Growing up, I never understood the whole green bean casserole thing. Why? Because I’d never had it, that’s why. I know, it’s hard to fathom. I did live here in America, really. I guess my parents never grew up eating it, so it was never a traditional dish at our family gatherings. The first time I had it was the first Thanksgiving that I spent with my husband’s family. My mother-in-law served it, and was it ever good! The funny thing is, I hear many people say if they have green bean casserole one more time, they are going to be sick. It’s a necessity for me during the holidays…probably because I jumped on the bandwagon so late! Yes, I’ve made it with the frozen or canned green beans, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and French’s french fried onions. Hasn’t everyone? Last year I decided to modernize it a bit by using fresh green beans, sliced cremini mushrooms, and made my own creamy cheese sauce. That’s when my Freshest Green Bean Casserole was born. Boy, was it ever good.
I’m not going to lie to you, making the sauce from scratch and using real green beans is more time consuming, but it’s something you can make a few days ahead and keep in the fridge so your not fussing over it the day of. It really does taste better, and it is worth the extra steps. If making the sauce yourself is not for you, just use fresh green beans and mushrooms like this recipe calls for, and you will still notice a difference. I must confess that I did not make my own french fried onions…I still used French’s. Maybe next year I’ll experiment with fried shallots? Please don’t quote me on that.
There are a few steps involved here, but they are all tolerable! First, prep your veggies. Clean your mushrooms with a damp paper towel. If you douse them in water they will become soggy…we don’t want that. Pull off the stems and slice in whatever thickness you desire. Next, wash the green beans and trim off the tops. Chop into about 2″ pieces. Mince the garlic cloves — I like using a garlic press for this. There, the veggies are prepped.
Now we need to cook our veggies. The green beans should be cooked in a large pot of boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes. They should be just fork tender as they will cook longer when the casserole is baked. If we wanted soggy beans, we would use the canned version, right? Drain, and set aside. Saute the mushrooms with the garlic next. This takes about 6-7 minutes. Set the mushrooms aside. From here you can place your cooked veggies in the fridge and tackle the rest later, or carry on to the sauce making.
For the sauce, we need to make a roux, which is basically melted butter with flour, salt, and pepper added to it. The roux is what helps thicken the sauce.
It’s whisked for about 2 minutes, then the milk is added. This is where you’ll be whisking constantly until the milk comes to a boil. Make sure you’re comfortable, because it takes about 8-10 minutes.
Once the sauce is nice and thick, add one cup of grated cheese and stir it until it’s melted. Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper if needed. Don’t add salt until after the cheese is added. Cheese has salt in it, and we don’t want our sauce too salty.
Now we’re ready for the assembly line. Place the green beans and mushrooms in a large bowl. Add the sauce and some french fried onions, and stir until well combined. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. If you’re ready to bake it now, top it with more french fried onions and pop it into a 350 degree oven. If you’re not, cover the casserole with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to bake it, remove the casserole from the fridge about 2 hours prior to baking to bring it to room temperature. Don’t forget to top it with those french fried onions, either. Bake it for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and nicely browned.
I used all my 2 qt. baking dishes so I used a pie plate! Whatever works. Cool slightly and serve. By the way, this was my favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving, dessert included. Maybe because it was in the pie plate.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and chopped into 2" pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups non-fat milk (or whatever your preference is)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup French's french fried onions, plus more for the top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and a bit of salt and pepper. Saute until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms have softened, about 5-7 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and add the green beans. Boil 5 minutes, or until just fork tender. Drain in a colander.
- Melt the butter in the same saute pan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and whisk constantly for 2 minutes until the roux is thick and bubbly. Add the milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, about 8 minutes. Bring the milk to a boil and continue whisking for about 2 more minutes, or until nice and thick. Remove from heat and add the grated cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted.
- In a large bowl, combine the green beans, mushrooms, cheese sauce, and ½ cup of the french fried onions. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with french fried onions. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and nicely browned. Remove from heat and cool slightly.