If you're really watching your calorie and fat intake, Thanksgiving, and frankly the next six weeks, can be extremely challenging and frustrating. You don't want to undo the slimming effects of all those sit-ups but with a table piled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cornbread etc. to say nothing of desserts, what's a body to do? And add in to the mix that cheated feeling you get when you deny yourself all of those once-a-year treats. Well, with this lightened up version of the classic green bean casserole, not only will you literally save over 100 calories per serving, you'll also gain (no pun intended) amazing flavor and texture that the original version just can't stand up to. I think that once you make this version, you'll be hooked and definitely lighter!!
Growing up the traditional Campbell's soup and French's fried onion rings green bean casserole wasn't a tradition for me. Thanksgiving was generally my aunt's holiday and she and her mom never made it, but somewhere along the line, I did eventually taste it and I have to say it did not really make much of an impression on me, But recently I was talking with someone about Thanksgiving veggies and she told me she'd never experienced a Thanksgiving without it. Then I remembered this recipe I'd been hanging onto for some time and the crispy shallots sounded enticing enough to get me to give it a try. And I am so glad that I did! This casserole is amazing tasting, with crisp fresh green beans and plenty of sauteed mushrooms in a light cream sauce covered by those addictive crispy shallots and grated Parmesan. And each serving is not only lower in calories but also in fat, sodium and cholesterol.
You start by frying up a whole lot of shallots--
Meanwhile you steam the green beans and saute a whole lot of mushrooms.
Next, you make an easy white sauce out of low fat milk and flour and then stir all those delicious things together, adding in some parmesan, parsley and spices.
And transfer to a baking dish where you top the whole mixture with those fried shallots and some grated Parmesan.
The casserole bakes up up with a crunchy cheesy top and tender green beans and mushrooms below. It's everything you want this classic dish to be, just a bit less rich, which even if you're not concerned with calories is kind of nice when you think of all the other holiday goodies you'll be filling your plate with. If I were a betting sort of girl, I'd wager we'll be starting a new tradition in this house!
Holiday Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots-Lightened Up
Makes 8 servings--you'll need to double this if you're a big Thanksgiving party and you can definitely make it one day ahead and cook before serving
Prep Time: 35-40 minutes; Bake Time: 20 minutes
1/4 cup olive oil
6 medium-sized shallots, sliced into thin rings
1 1/2 pounds string beans, trimmed at ends
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups cold 1% milk
3 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Steam the green beans in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, covered, for about 3 minutes, until bright green and still crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. In a small frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. In batches, to avoid overcrowding, fry shallots, turning and stirring them for about 2 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to paper towels to drain. Repeat the process until all the shallots are fried. Transfer the oil to a larger, deeper, non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the liquid given off by the mushrooms evaporates and they are brown. Add the garlic and thyme and stir for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Don't wash the pan.
4. In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the milk and flour, until the flour is completely incorporated. Add the mixture to pan and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Lower the heat to medium-low and and cook for 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens up a bit, whisking every now and then. Remove from the heat and pour over the green beans in the bowl. Add in the mushroom mixture, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the parsley and the salt and pepper and stir everything together well.
5. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with vegetable cooking spray and transfer the green bean mixture into it. Spread it out evenly and scatter the shallots and remaining Parmesan across the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
Note: Recipe adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger. I cut the nutmeg entirely and reduced the amount of garlic from 6 to 4 cloves because it was a little bit heavy on the garlic the first time I made it.