The first time I saw a werewolf movie as a young boy it gave me nightmares for a month. Mentioning the “classic” green bean casserole has the same effect on me. It’s terrifying. Overcooked canned beans smothered in a sodium heavy, vaguely mushroom flavored ooze and topped with rapidly softening fried onions.
Who thought of this? Who told us we were supposed to like it?
The components of a green bean casserole are all ingredients that I love, it’s the end result that I’m not fond of, and I know of a whole lot of other people who share that dislike. This is the green bean casserole for the rest of us.
The original concept for this dish came from an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on Food Network. He chose onion rings as his garnish, but I find that making a proper onion ring, or any other deep fried onion for that matter, without a professional fryer is extremely iffy, so I went with caramelized onions instead. I also upped the mushroom content quite a bit.
The components are all things found in the classic, but with a new twist, and about 1/3 the calories of the original. Technically it’s not a casserole, but you can get around that by tossing the serving dish in the oven for 5 minutes at its lowest setting *wink*
- 1 lb. whole green beans (fresh or frozen).
- 1 very large onion or two normally sized onions, halved and sliced into thin strips.
- 8 oz. crimini (baby portabella/portabello) Mushrooms, sliced.
- 4 oz. shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 tbsp. butter.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While waiting for water to boil, melt butter in a saute pan over low heat. Add onions, stir once and allow to sweat. (you don’t want to hear any sizzling.) Stir occasionally until all onions are a deep golden.
- Add green beans to boiling water. cook until just crisp-tender (approximately 2 minutes.) Remove from pan and either submerge in a bowl of ice and water, or place in a colander under cold running water until completely cooled.
- (This is a good time to check your onions)
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add shitake mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add crimini mushrooms and cook,stirring often, for approximately 5 more minutes, or until mushrooms are done to your liking.
- (Again, this is a good time to check those onions… Do they look nearly golden? If so, add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, stir and kill the heat.)
- Strain green beans and add to mushroom mixture. Toss until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and place in a serving dish.
- Arrange caramelized onions along the outside of casserole or serving bowl.
I prefer to serve this as I would the classic version. A nice serving bowl or casserole in the center of the table.
If you prefer, you can plate individually by placing a serving of the bean and mushroom mixture on a plate and topping them with a small mound of the caramelized onions. this is a bit more of a restaurant style presentation, but it works well if you’re not serving these as part of a holiday buffet.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I’m going to be honest with you. I never thought in a million years that I would post a recipe for any type of green bean casserole. This, however is a wonderful dish. The only thing I can think of that would make it better would be the addition of bacon (I’m thinking of you, Biggles!), perhaps some slivered almonds or a little added Parmesan cheese, just to add the dairy to it that I’ve removed from the classic version.