Okay you guys….as I write this it’s still summer. The kids are back in school, but the weather is definitely summer like and Labor Day is a week away yet. Labor Day of course brings us to the unofficial end of summer and start of Fall! Which leads me to think about Fall holidays, and then because I always get carried away, right on to Thanksgiving and Christmas! But, as I’m a certified(able) pre-planner, I feel like now’s the time to start testing recipes and planning ahead for the holidays. In fact, my daughter calls me a con-crastinator because I’m the polar opposite of a procrastinator! 😉 We’re only looking at 8 1/2 weeks until Thanksgiving, which means just over 12 until Christmas. Do you know how quickly that time will FLY by?
This year the holidays will be different for us for many reasons, not the least of which is that I’ve adopted the CEBH lifestyle, so many of our more decadent holiday dishes and treats will either be eliminated or I will need to re-vamp them. For many of us Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a traditional Green Bean Casserole. However, that traditional casserole is loaded with processed foods, fat, and artificial ingredients in the form of canned cream of mushroom soup and crispy fried onions.
I’ve tried to make a somewhat healthier version of Green Bean Casserole in the past, but I’ve never really nailed it until now. And the reason this version is so good is thanks to our secret weapon – cashew cream…so this recipe becomes #6 in our CEBH Cashew Cream recipe series! The creaminess of the cashew cream mimics the consistency of the cream of mushroom soup perfectly! Once I’d managed to find a substitution for the soup the next hurdle was those yummy, crunchy, salty, crispy, fried onions! I knew it would be a challenge to duplicate the exact crunch, but I feel like I’ve come really close! By shaving a couple shallots super thin, quickly sautéing them until crispy, and combining them with pan toasted panko, I’ve managed to match the flavor and crunch of the canned onions!
As a matter of course, I’d obviously prefer to use fresh green beans, but the beans at the store were pathetic and there were none at the farmers market, so I opted for frozen. This is a perfectly wonderful option for when fresh vegetables are not readily available – think Iowa from about October through April! I just really implore you not to use canned green beans for this dish if you can avoid it. The texture and color tends to put me off, plus they’re a little squeaky when I chew them and that grosses me out! But as with all my recipes, use what you have access to and what your family likes. Better canned beans than no beans I always say…actually I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, but it’s still true nonetheless! 😉 All the other ingredients in this recipe should be available year round at your local market. It’s a simple list that of course includes green beans, fresh or frozen, onion, shallots, mushrooms, cashews, panko, and a few other basic pantry items!
Preparation of this green bean casserole is only slightly more complicated than the traditional recipe. Mostly it just takes a little pre-planning (see above regarding my pre-planning *issue*) to soak the cashews for the cashew cream. The cashew cream, just like in our other recipes, is made simply by blending the drained cashews, water, and seasonings in the blender. Cooking the mushrooms and onions is a pretty basic kitchen task for most everyone I think. Frying the shallots and browning the panko is easy because both steps are accomplished in short order using the same pan – first the shallots, then the panko! If using fresh beans they’ll need to be trimmed and steamed for just a couple minutes, as they’ll continue cooking in the oven. Frozen beans can be set out an hour or two ahead to thaw. Once all the components are prepared the casserole goes together in under 2 minutes and bakes at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until bubbly and heated through. The aroma this green bean casserole emits while baking may cause you to go weak in the knees…I’m just sayin’…in case you’re susceptible to those sorts of things! It will most definitely get you in the mood for dinner though – I promise you that!
Crisping the shallots is a simple process of melting 2 teaspoons of coconut oil over medium high heat and very quickly browning the thinly sliced shallots until dark and crispy. Remove them from the pan to drain on a paper towel. While the pan is still warm, add the panko with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and stir the crumbs around the pan for just a few seconds until they turn golden brown, then remove them from the heat. If you find the pan is too dry after sautéing the shallots you may need to add another teaspoon of coconut oil. The beauty of using the same pan is that the shallot flavored oil left in the pan helps to infuse the panko crumbs with scrumptious shallot-y flavor!
Once everything is ready, mix the green beans, cashew cream, and sautéed mushrooms and onions together. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish, sprinkle the crispy shallots and then the toasted panko evenly over the top, pop it in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, covering the dish with foil after the first 20 minutes or so to keep the shallots from burning.
I hope this is a recipe you’ll try serving to your family and friends this year! I fact, I think the CEBH Green Bean Casserole is even tastier than the traditional version thanks to the fact that it’s made from scratch with no artificial ingredients!
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen green beans, thawed if using frozen
- 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced
- 24 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 2 to 12 hours in water, then drained
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko crumbs
- 2 medium shallots, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tsp refined coconut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lightly grease a baking dish and set aside.
- In a blender, blend drained cashews with 1 cup fresh water, garlic, and white wine vinegar until smooth and creamy.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Set aside
- Sauté mushrooms and Vidalia onion in a large skillet drizzled with EVOO until cooked through and pan juices have reduced. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet melt the refined coconut oil until hot and shimmering.
- Quickly fry the sliced shallots until brown and crispy.
- Remove from pan to drain on a paper towel.
- In same pan, toast the panko crumbs for just a few seconds until golden brown, adding another teaspoon of coconut oil as needed. Season crumbs with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl combine the beans, cooked mushrooms and onions, and cashew cream.
- Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle with crispy shallots and toasted panko crumbs.
- Place casserole in oven and bake 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- If the shallots are getting too browned, cover the dish with foil after the first 20 minutes baking time and continue baking.
- Remove from oven and serve piping hot.
- The cashew cream can be made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until ready to assemble the casserole.