Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Green Bean Casserole – The King of Holiday Side Dishes



It seems that you can always tell when Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are approaching.  This is the time of the year when the green bean casserole makes its annual appearance. I talk to lots of people about this dish.  Some people always had it on the holiday table.  Others are just kind of ho-hum about it.  No matter, everyone has an opinion about it. 

And why not serve green bean casserole for Thanksgiving dinner.  It is a uniquely American dish.  The green bean casserole was developed by the Campbell Soup Company in 1955.  The idea was to make a quick and easy dish consisting of items that most people would always have on hand – green beans and cream of mushroom soup. The original casserole contained only 5 ingredients – green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce and French fried onions.   

We decided to update this American classic. We started with a cream sauce and used real mushrooms, onion, and frozen green beans.  It is a little more work than the original, but worth the effort.  However, we did keep the original onion rings.  No one was willing to part with them.  And why should we, this is, afterall a comfort dish and it is the holidays. 

Even though our version is a little more work, it can be assembled ahead of time.  On the day of the dinner, top with onions, bake and serve.  So go ahead and enjoy a little of an American classic.

Green Bean Casserole

Serves 8.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 package (16 ounce) frozen green beans or
            1 pound fresh
1 can (2.8 ounce) French fried onions

 Directions:

1.      Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms, cook, stirring until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Stir in flour.

2.      Slowly add the broth, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

To Assemble Casserole:

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.      Combine sauce and green beans.

3.     Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour green bean mixture into baking dish.  Place in oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 25 minutes.  Top with fried onions and bake for about 10 minutes.

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