Green bean casserole can be found on many Thanksgiving menus. French green beans are tossed in a mushroom sauce, topped with onions and baked for a few minutes.
The traditional dish called for fried onions (see tips), but I made a "light" version using caramelized onions and a roux (combination of butter, flour and a liquid) made with vegetable stock. No cream or any dairy ingredients involved except a little butter. Don't get me wrong; this version of green bean casserole is still packed with flavor from the onions and the cherry tomatoes tossed in garlic. But it will be nice to have something healthier on our table to balance out all the richer dishes I plan to make.
Servings: 8 servings
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups vegetable stock (or canned vegetable broth), warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave
1 (10.5-ounce) package cherry tomatoes
½ cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise.
Brush a baking dish with olive oil.
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick pan. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and slowly cook until caramelized, stirring often. Transfer the onions to a platter. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes. Toss well until wilted. Transfer to a platter. Set aside.
Add the beans. Toss well, leaving the heat at the highest setting for about 3 minutes until the color changes and becomes translucent. Add salt (this step will ensure a bright green color). Transfer to a platter.
Add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the crimini mushrooms. Toss well for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms. The flour should absorb the butter instantly and form a paste. Add the warm vegetable stock in 3 stages. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans and tomatoes. Stir until well coated.
Transfer to the baking dish and bake for 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle with the onions and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Allow to cool a little. Serve warm.
Haricots verts are available this season in many markets. You can find them at Trader Joe's, Costco and in farmers' markets. If you don't have haricots verts, use the thinnest young fresh green beans you can find. To check for quality and for freshness, just break one in half; it should snap and be crisp.
You could make the same recipe with other greens such as asparagus or broccoli.
It's important to pour ladlesful of warm stock to avoid lumps of flour.
For a vegan version, replace the butter with olive oil.
If the calories don't bother you, you could sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese before placing the dish in the oven.
If you prefer topping the dish with fried onions, toss half of a sliced onion in a blend of flour (about 4-5 tablespoons), 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a nonstick pan. Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes, until crispy and golden. Flip the onions and cook on the other side. Voilà!
You could also mix the onions with slightly crushed crackers or toasted sliced almonds for more crunch.