This is a healthier take on the classic holiday green bean casserole that we all have known and loved. Notably, this recipe does not include canned cream of mushroom soup or the common packaged fried onion ring topping. Instead, replacing the cream of mushroom soup is chicken stock and half and half, and we are roasting sliced onions instead of opening that package of fried onion rings.
I found this recipe online from Alton Brown, well known from the Food Network, and made it just this Thanksgiving, and it was well received by family.
I will warn you: this recipe does have a number of ingredients and there are a number of steps. However, as long as you are always one step ahead with the next ingredients ready to go, you will be fine. I think it is worth it, particularly if you are only making it once or twice a holiday season.
One other point worth noting: The recipe’s nutritional breakdown puts the sodium level extremely high, which surprised me. There is very little salt added: two Tbs in the boiling water that blanches the green beans, one tsp added to the onions that are roasted and one tsp added to the mushrooms as they cook. If you’re concerned about the sodium levels, then I would suggest you cut out the Tbs of salt in the boiling water and the 1 tsp of salt added in with the flour and panko breadcrumbs that coat the onions that will be roasted.
Alton Brown created this recipe so that you can prepare the casserole in a large skillet and cook it in the skillet in the oven and serve it immediately from the skillet at your dinner table. As that wasn’t convenient for me, I simply transferred everything from the skillet into a porcelain baking dish when I was ready to cook it in the oven and that worked very well (porcelain or glass baking dish that can withstand a 400 degree F oven). So, if you are preparing it to serve immediately and you have room on your table for a large skillet, go with the first approach; if not go with what I did.
Ok, we’ve cleared all that up. Let’s forge ahead with the recipe.
2 medium onions (or 1 large onion, which is what I used), thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt (As I mentioned, if you feel better, skip this tsp of salt)
nonstick cooking spray
Beans and The Mushroom Mixture:
2 Tbs salt (Again, if you feel strongly, you can cut this out and not add it to the boiling water)
1 tsp salt
1 lb fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved (if you’re making this close to Thanksgiving or Christmas, your grocery store will probably have done most of the work for you, with bags available of trimmed fresh green beans. As you’re cutting them in halves, however, keep an eye out for those odd beans that haven’t been trimmed and cut off those bits.)
12 ounces of mushrooms (whatever your preference), sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbs unsalted butter (I recommend using something like Smart Balance butter)
1/2 tsp ground back pepper
2 garlic cloves minced or grated
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (I grated fresh nutmeg for this recipe, but if it’s easier, and it probably is, go ahead and portion out a quarter of teaspoon from that container of dried ground nutmeg that you have in your cabinet.)
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup store-bought chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
There are essentially three stages to this recipe: preparing the onions, preparing the beans, and preparing the mushroom mixture. I recommend that while your onions are in the oven roasting, you get the beans boiled and cooled off. Once the onions are taken care of, and the beans have been blanched, cooled and set aside, start on the mushrooms and sauce.
We’re beginning with the onion topping. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F. Peel and thinly slice two medium onions or one large onion.
Place the onion slices in a large bowl.
Add the panko breadcrumbs, flour and tsp of salt (if you’re using) to the onions and toss everything together to coat the onions. Use your hands (wash them first please) as they are the best utensils in this instance to coat the onions. I didn’t use the tsp of salt here, so you won’t see a photo of it going into the bowl.
Spray a baking sheet with the nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread out the onions on the sheet. Don’t be upset if in the process of transferring the onions to the baking sheet that you find flour and panko breadcrumbs sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Just sprinkle the flour and crumbs over the onions on the pan and all will be good, I promise.
Place the baking sheet into the 475 degree heated oven and roast onions for about 30 minutes, turning the onions several times (The recipe says until golden brown, but they really don’t achieve that color. Don’t worry if some of the pieces get a little charred, you can break off the ends or throw those pieces out. Just pay attention during the roasting so that they all don’t burn). Remove and set aside. Turn your oven down from 475 to 400, as that is the temperature the casserole will bake in.
Now for preparing the lb of green beans. As I mentioned above, it’s easiest to buy the packaged green beans that have already been trimmed for you. Rinse your beans first. I would spend a minute sorting through and cutting off those little nubs on those errant ones that haven’t been trimmed. Cut the beans in half, or at least the largest pieces.
Bring a gallon of water and 2 Tbs of salt (again, if you are so inclined, don’t include the salt here) to a boil in a large saucepan or pot. Add the beans and blanch for five minutes (All that blanching means is that you are cooking your vegetables in boiling water for a short amount of time and then plunging them into cold water to stop them cooking further).
After five minutes, remove the beans from the heat and immediately drain in a colander in your kitchen sink and quickly plunge them into a large bowl of ice water.
Drain the beans and set aside in a bowl.
Ok, the beans have been taken care of. Now we move on to the mushroom mixture.
You’ll want 12 ounces of trimmed mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. I used white mushrooms the first time I tried this recipe and the second time baby bellas, and both were great (Make your life easier by buying packaged sliced mushrooms; they should be about the right size when sliced and if you think some slices are too big, you can always cut them before sauteing or break them up while sauteing with your cooking utensil).
Melt the 2 Tbs of unsalted butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper into the skillet.
Cook the mushrooms for about four or five minutes, stirring regularly. Add the minced garlic (or grated as I do) and the nutmeg and cook for one or two minutes more.
Now sprinkle the 2 Tbs of flour over the mushrooms and stir to combine, cooking for a minute.
Pour in the chicken broth and let the mixture simmer for one minute.
Decrease the heat to medium-low and introduce the cup of half-and-half.
Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring often, about six or eight minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add all of the green beans and 1/4 of the roasted onions .
Now, here is the decision you make about whether you’re going to cook the casserole in the skillet and serve it immediately at the dinner table or transfer the casserole into a baking dish like I have done.
In either scenario, you top the casserole with the remaining 3/4 of the roasted onions and place in the 400 degree F oven to cook for about 20 minutes or until you see the casserole beginning to bubble. Take out and you’re good to go:)
Serving Size: About 1 and 1/4 cup
Cal: 183; Total Fat: 9.3 g (Sat Fat:5.5 g); Chol: 25 mg; Sodium: 3,268 mg*; Fiber: 3.6 g; Carbs: 20.4; Pro: 6.7 g.
*As stated at the top of the post, this is incredibly high. By taking out the salt added to the boiling water and to the roasted onions, this number should be dramatically reduced.