Seasonal Flavors: Green Bean Casserole

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One of the quintessential elements of the American Thanksgiving dinner is green beans in mushroom soup with the crunchy onions on top. Don’t we love them! But oh, my goodness, that mushroom soup has some ingredients (modified food starch, monosodium glutamate and way too much sodium) that we should be loath to eat now that it is two thousand fifteen and we should all know better!

So to keep the taste but improve the nutrition, I propose making it from scratch. If this makes you gasp, just assign it to your most industrious guest, assuring them of everyone’s gratitude for the improved nutrition and virtuous feeling imparted to the dinner.

It’s not that onerous. Cook the beans and dry them. (I will be using quarts of green beans that I canned this summer so I just need to drain and dry.) Sauté the mushrooms, caramelize the onions, add some sauce fixings and then—and if you are like me, you are not a complete purist—be frivolous and go ahead and use those packaged crunchy onions. The worst thing in them is palm oil and you can’t beat that crunch.

The result will be delicious. You or whoever made it can brag that you are providing an oh-so-delicious alternative. And we can be thankful. As we are thankful. I thank you for reading my column.

Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole From Scratch

  • 6 handfuls of fresh green beans (or 3 cans of green beans)
  • 3 large onions
  • 1 pound assorted (or not) fresh mushrooms
  • ¼ cup butter for the onions and 2 T for the mushrooms
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 can crunchy onion topping, if you dare
  • ½ tsp salt
  • As much fresh ground pepper as you are willing to add

Cook the fresh green beans in salted boiling water until just tender. Drain and lay on a tea towel to dry. This and other steps keep the dish from becoming too mushy.

Thinly slice the onions and put in a large fry pan with ¼ cup butter. Keep heat low and cook for about 45 minutes until tender and caramelized (just starting to brown).

In a separate fry pan, melt the 2 T butter and add the olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms until they release their liquid and then allow that liquid to cook off, leaving the mushrooms cooked and shiny with the oil, with no extra liquid in the pan.

Combine the beans, onions and mushrooms and add the yogurt, salt and pepper. Put all into your prettiest baking dish and top with the crunchy onions. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes.

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