Did you grow up with green bean casserole on your Thanksgiving table? I actually did not. If we were at Grandma’s house, she made her usual green bean side with home-grown green beans, bacon and onions, which I refused to eat because I only liked canned green beans. C’mon, little Kate. If we were at our house, Mom heated up canned green beans with nothing else, which was exactly how I liked them.
Turkey and Great Grandmother Lucille’s twice-baked cream cheese mashed potatoes recipe were constants either way. I really need to figure out a more redeeming version of that recipe, because it puts all other mashed potatoes to shame.
My first experience making green bean casserole was in college when I signed up to make it on our Friendsgiving menu list, for reasons that I still can’t explain. This was before I knew how to cook, so I Googled the recipe and went with one of the top picks.
Canned mushroom soup, canned green beans, canned fried onions. Easy enough to manage, but I was put off by the canned mushroom soup. I didn’t like the final result much, but my friends did, probably because that’s what they had grown up eating.
That’s the extent of my green bean casserole story, until now! I have a mostly homemade green bean casserole recipe for you that’s made with fresh green beans and mushrooms (over 2 pounds of them). I love it. The rich mushroom flavor really shines through and makes this vegetarian casserole dish taste spectacular.
I used one shortcut, which might sound a little crazy, but hear me out. I used crushed potato chips instead of homemade or store-bought fried onions, for several reasons.
For one, homemade fried onions are tricky. You have to either deep-fry them, which uses a ton of oil and makes your entire house smell like fast-food onion rings for days. Or, you can attempt one of the baked “fried” onion options, which produce inconsistent and not-quite-awesome results.
Store-bought fried onions tend to contain some suspect ingredients, as well as flour, which means that they’re not gluten free. I’m not a gluten-free eater myself, but several of my closest friends are, so the wheat in the store-bought option was problematic for Friendsgiving.
I used Kettle Brand Chips’ amazing organic sea salt chips, which are made of organic potatoes, organic vegetable oil (safflower and/or sunflower oil) and sea salt. Man alive, they’re so good. Don’t get me going about the necessity of air pockets in chips; Kettle Brand Chips have lots of them.
To make up for the missing onion flavor in the topping, I cooked the mushrooms with lots of chopped shallot. I used just half the amount of half-and-half that most other recipes call for, too, so the flavors really shine through. (See my recipe notes for dairy-free alternatives.) Most of the creaminess of the mushroom mixture comes from the roux, anyway, which is formed when you cook the flour in butter and add liquid.
In the making of this recipe, I learned a few tricks to making epic green bean casserole. For starters, you have to use fresh green beans. Even the pre-trimmed varieties might have some stringy bits attached, so be sure to trim those off yourself. Then, cut the green beans in half so you don’t have any extra-long green beans poking out of the casserole.
You’ll need to blanch the green beans for a few minutes before you mix them into the mushroom mixture (this step is super easy). Otherwise, your green beans will still be tough by the time the rest of the casserole is finished baking.
Another key is to lightly brown the mushrooms when you add them to the pan. That coaxes tons of savory flavor from your average grocery store baby bellas. Medium-high heat does a good job of browning the mushrooms, but soon the pan starts smoking, so just under medium-high heat is the way to go.
As we’re entering an especially indulgent season, and in light of last week’s events, I’ve been pondering how to give back more. This year, maybe Friendsgiving can help feed kids in need.
Join Kettle Brand and sign up to host a Friendsgiving for No Kid Hungry and you can do some serious good this holiday season. I was too late to sign up our own Friendsgiving, but it’s never too late to donate. I just did, and hope you’ll join me!
- 2½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 1½ pounds fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped shallot (2 to 3 medium shallots)
- 12 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, rinsed free of debris, trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat, use all-purpose gluten-free flour for gluten-free casserole)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup half-and-half
- 1 to 1½ cups crushed Kettle Brand Organic Potato Chips with Sea Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a large bowl with ice and water for when you’re done blanching the green beans.
- Bring a large (large!) pot of water to boil, with enough room to add the green beans. Add the green beans and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Once the mixture comes back to a boil, let the beans boil for 5 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander and immediately pour them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Then, drain the beans again in your colander, and set aside to drip-dry while you prepare the rest.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet* set between medium and medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is starting to turn golden brown in places, add the shallots and mushrooms. (If using olive oil instead of butter, wait until the oil sizzles when you add a piece of mushroom.)
- Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and about 15 twists of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to release some liquid and turn brown on the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring constantly. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute, while stirring constantly.
- Slowly pour in the broth, while using your spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, then decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the half-and-half and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the drained green beans. Evenly sprinkle the mixture with crushed chips. Bake until the edges are nice and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Serve promptly.
*If you don’t have a cast iron skillet: Cook the mushroom mixture in a large skillet as directed. Then, mix the mushroom mixture and green beans in a 9 by 13-inch baker. Top with chips and bake as directed.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Use olive oil instead of butter. I haven’t tried, but I’m confident that replacing the half and half with ¾ cup thick cashew milk (made with 1 cup cashews and 2 cups water) would work well.
Change it up: If you prefer cheesy green bean casseroles, sprinkle 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese over the mushroom and green bean mixture, before topping with chips.
Make it ahead: You can prepare the green bean and mushroom mixture 1 day in advance. Store it in a 9 by 13-inch baker or a mixing bowl (not a cast iron skillet), covered, in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, pour the mixture into a baker (if it's not already) or skillet, top with chips, and bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes or a little longer.
This post was created in partnership with Kettle Brand Chips. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!