Beans on toast is a timeless classic, whether you have beans on wholemeal for lunch, beans and fried bread for breakfast or beans with bread soldiers as part of a full English following a gruelling weekend hangover. Beans and toast are simply a marriage made in heaven. You can adapt this classic combination in so many ways, but my favourite by far is to add cheddar cheese, mushrooms and rosemary over a thick and crusty end of the loaf.
This is certainly a filling meal no matter the time of day. I wait all week to collect the ends of the bread from our weekly loaf, as it gradually decreases each time I make pack lunches for the children. And when just the ends of the loaf are left, in the early hours of a bright summer morning when I’m up with the children, rubbing my eyes and dawdling along in my dressing gown, nothing goes down better with a cup of cold milk than a hearty beans on toast in the garden listening to the birds.
I start by toasting the ends of the bread under the grill on a medium heat to cook it slowly and ensure that it doesn’t burn. Whilst this take several minutes to toast both sides, I slice a handful of mushrooms into a saucepan with a couple of spoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I flash fry them for a minute or so before adding a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce and allow it to cook on a medium heat for another several minutes until it becomes more of a paste in texture.
I then move back to the toast, which is now nicely golden brown on both sides. I slice a block of extra mature cheddar cheese into thin slithers and layer them loosely across the surface of each piece of toast, I don’t plaster it in cheese as it can become soggy and heavy and I much prefer a light and savoury punch to a nice crisp toast. Also I never use butter or spread as the cheese melts and turns gooey when cooked and the beans have plenty of sauce of their own. I return the cheese on toast to the grill again on a low heat for the cheese to bubble up and melt into the toast, looking for the edges to turn slightly darker than the rest for that mouth-watering crunch when you bite into it.
I have a herb garden in a railway sleeper outside, and a sprig of fresh rosemary tops the cheddar, mushroom and beans piled onto the toasts beautifully. Sometimes I add garlic or onions to the mix and a sprinkle of ground sea salt and chilli flakes. It also works well with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and ricotta cheese.