Baked beans, with their sweet, meaty elixir and mahogany complexion, are somewhat of an edible manifesto in New England. Bean stew, a perfect dish to let simmer unattended throughout the day, provided ballast to colonial life and remains a culinary cornerstone in these parts of the woods. So with baked beans on my mind, I set out to create my own version, which, in all honesty, strays quite far from tradition. Unlike its sweeter original form, this variation is deeply savory, with anchovies, bacon, and a brown butter–tomato sauce anchoring the whole thing. Forever a seeker of acidic bursts and layers of crunch, I decided to add a dilly salad plus salty feta. While it began as a playful ode to baked beans, the dish quickly turned into a celebration of the vast range and life cycle of beans themselves—from runners to shelling, fresh to dry.