Ah, what would the holidays be without the ubiquitous Green Bean casserole? Each food company, national chef and home cook has their own version of this holiday treat. There are as many recipes available as there are opinions! They range from a simple three-point simple, 3-can recipe to a 30-step recipe that entails rare and hard to find ingredients, that require difficult culinary steps that must be carefully tended after.
During my childhood, my mother was of the ‘three can’ method of making Green Bean Casserole: one can of cream of mushroom soup, one can green beans, one can french fried onions. Add dashes of soy sauce, worcester, mix well, pour in a 13×9 pan and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Pure bliss! It was also pure sodium, preservatives and additives.
My recipe falls somewhere in the middle. The ingredients are simple, easily found in your grocery store but there are a few steps you must follow. These, too, are easily and simple to follow.
Here is the simple recipe as found in my cookbook, “Simple, Healthy, Fresh 1.0”:
1 bag frozen cut, french or whole green beans.
2 cups homemade cream of mushroom sauce/soup or 2 cans low-sodium cream of mushroom soup (add 2 tbsp Marsala wine for a more sophisticated taste)
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp worcester sauce
Spices: 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp black pepper
Mix green beans and cream of mushroom soup, thyme togther. Place in sprayed or greased baking pan. Top with crispy onions.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.
Now, the cream of mushroom soup or sauce is a recipe in and of itself. It also is found elsewhere in my cookbook. But i’ll give it here, so you have the full recipe!
Start a roux of either cornstarch or flour, 1 tbsp for each tbsp of a fat (either EVOO-FCP, unsalted butter or plain vegetable oil). Each tbsp of flour & oil will go with 1 cup of liquid. For a creamier, full-fat soup, use full fat milk, half and half or heavy cream-though watch the heat as the dairy will burn. For a more clear soup or sauce that is lower fat and lower carb, I use stock–either chicken or beef. For this recipe, I use a low-sodium beef stock, plus a few tbsp marsala or deep red wine. This adds depth and character to the finished product.
After the roux is fully cooked, whisk in the beef stock until roux is thoroughly dissolved. Add the Thyme and pepper and turn heat to low, to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, add 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 tbsp EVOO-FCP and 1-2 diced or pressed garlic cloves. While butter is melting, slice 2 pounds fresh mixed mushrooms (or whatever is on sale at your grocery store) and add to the pan. You may need to add more fat, as mushrooms soak it in. Add fresh cracked pepper, Herbs de Provence and/or thyme. For a more adult flavor and continuity to the recipe, add a few tbsp Marsala/red wine. When wilted, add to the cream soup you just made. Let simmer for a few minutes, to let flavors meld.
Instead of preservative-filled crispy fried onions, make your own! Thinly slice one large onion (or use one of those machines to julienne). Put a few tbsp vegetable (or other healthy oil for high heat) in a pan and add the onions over low to medium heat and let caramelize to a crispy finish. Divide into 3/4 and 1/4.
If using full, fresh green beans, rinse and top/tail before starting recipe. If using canned green beans (shame on you), rinse thoroughly to get rid of all the sodium and additives. Frozen green beans are a great substitute for fresh! They are flash cooked to keep color and crispness then frozen right after. Rinse to get rid of excess frost, place in bowl.
Now to mix, add two cups of the homemade cream of mushroom sauce, 2-3 cups green beans, 3/4 of the fried onions, with 2 tsp thyme, dash pepper, the low-sodium and worcester sauce. Mix thoroughly and place in a 8×8, 13×9 or whatever pan you have. Spread evenly and put the last 1/4 fried onion over the top.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.