At Thanksgiving, the traditional green bean casserole produces some pretty strong feelings. People either claim it as their favorite holiday side dish, or they dismiss it as old-school and unappetizing. I'll admit that I've always been in the second camp and decided I had to do something to lighten up and kick up the flavor of the traditional casserole.
The first step was to do away with the canned cream of mushroom soup — be gone! In its place, make a light cream sauce, using just a few tablespoons of butter, flour and low-fat milk. To turn up the flavor, a handful of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper is stirred in at the end. The green beans are quickly blanched in boiling water, then tossed with a mixture of sauteed mushrooms and shallots, and the lightened-up cream sauce. Sprinkle the casserole with sliced almonds for a little crunch and bake until bubbling.
This is sure to please the traditionalists and the more health-conscious guests at your table.
Green bean casserole with sauteed mushrooms & shallots
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed & cut in half diagonally
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 12 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until the green beans are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and thyme, and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the all-purpose flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is light brown. Gradually add the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper and salt.
- Add the mushrooms and the thickened sauce to the greens beans. Stir to combine, and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
- Top the casserole with the sliced almonds, and bake until the mixture is bubbling and the almonds are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve.