Green Bean Casserole for a Healthier Diet

A Change in Tradition

Yeah, I know. You’ve seen this before. A new-fanged green bean recipe that tastes as good as the original and is better for you. When in fact, most of the time, many of these new recipes fall short of fulfilling the essential lure of what we enjoy about the casserole in the first place: A creamy thick saucy mushroom goodness enveloped around bites of green beans, and really folks, the kicker for most of us is the crunchy fried onion topping. So why, on say a special holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, would anyone ever want to change it? For the better.

Now, that brings me to my second question: What would happen if every dish you placed on the table became a little healthier? Believe me, of all people, I think it is sacrilege to mess with family recipes and change the teachings and ways in our southern cookery. Even though the addition of bacon was in our family’s way of preparing many dishes, I confess, coming up with a better one from time-to-time is a good thing. To take a recipe, one cherished by all in a family, and change it up a bit especially to make it better for us, can’t be all that bad, can it? I think not. That is why many times when cooking family favorites I choose to use one strip of bacon instead of four, or was that six?

This one, this rendition of America’s favorite side dish came out pretty darn good. The only thing I would change the next time is to make sure my fresh green beans were young and tender enough as the texture of the bean was a bit tough. This recipe makes a saucy base so if you like yours thicker, add a little more flour to the roux base. I actually liked the looseness of the sauce. Enjoy!

Good and Healthy Green Bean Casserole
8 to 10 side servings

for the topping:
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fried onion rings if desired
for the casserole:
2 1/2 pounds cut fresh green beans, blanched (or frozen, defrosted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup julienne red bell pepper
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese (low-fat if possible)

Times: Prep- 40 mins / Cook- 25 mins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt and stir. Cover and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, combine Panko with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and set aside. Once onions are caramelized, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add olive oil and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic, half of the cooked onions, and flour, stirring to combine. Pour in stock, sherry and half and half and stir constantly until mixture begins to bubble. Cook for 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens slightly, then add bell pepper, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Stir in green beans, cheese and transfer to a casserole dish.
Combine remaining onions with Panko mixture and top casserole. (You can add the fried onions now but be sure to cover.)

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: Cook time is for oven time only.
Add the green onion toward the end of baking for a fresher texture or as written for the toasted version.
If adding the fried onion rings, do so the last 5 minutes or cover with foil for the first 20 minutes.


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