Fall is in the air.
For the first time in a long time, I broke out the extra blankets and almost turned on the heater before going to bed. I love Fall. The kids are back in school, the leaves are beginning to change colors, the air is cooler, you get to wear your bulky sweaters and boots and your mind turns to comfort food. Mac and cheese, chili, soups and casseroles.
Bring it on.
When I think of casseroles, the ever classic Green Bean casserole comes to mind. Now, even though it’s Fall and we’re wearing those bulky sweaters, that is no excuse to go crazy. We’re eating less meat over here at my house so I naturally gravitated towards this casserole. Here is my attempt at presenting to you a delicious, filling and lighter Green Bean casserole.
How did I get creative? This casserole only uses fresh ingredients and nothing out of a can. I also tried to cut down on the fat so this may not look like your typical casserole . . thick, creamy and cheesy. .
But it still tastes delicious.
I ate this much in like 3 minutes.
What do I love about casseroles? They are easy to make and they can serve a lot of people. And if you’re one of those people who have no time on the week nights to even think about cooking or what to eat for dinner. . . Make a casserole on Saturday or Sunday and freeze it. You’ll have dinner (depending on the size of your family or household) for at least 2 nights covered. Worried about the fat, calories or your waistline? Casseroles are seriously what you put into them so bake healthy. Add in just a little heavy cream or don’t add any at all. Go light on the cheese. Stay healthy and fresh with the ingredients.
Anything is possible with a casserole.
Since we’ve been cutting down on the meat here, I’ve noticed that vegetables can be the stars of the meal too. I seriously have a newfound love for broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms and squash. I absolutely love the green beans and mushrooms in this casserole. And hey, you can’t have a Green Bean casserole without crunchy, baked onions on top, can you? They are here and they are seriously delicious. When making this recipe, I was inspired by a Lemon Ricotta Béchamel so that’s in here too. And I actually used 2% milk for the béchamel sauce (remember lighter, and this is actually the only kind of milk we have in the house) and Country Crock! It was delicious!
A thing or two about casseroles. . I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love them because I love comfort food and I often equate casseroles with warm, filling, yummy goodness. But, as a food blogger, I hate them because they never seem to photograph well. They look horribly ugly.
You know it’s true.
But let me tell you. This one ain’t pretty but it sure is delicious! I hope you give this one a try. . I’m adding this casserole to my Thanksgiving Day dinner menu for sure. And don’t fret. This one is also doable for a weeknight meal: main or side dish. As with any meal, just plan ahead, have all of the ingredients ready to go and you can do it. You do most of the cooking before the casserole actually goes into the oven, so once it’s in the oven for 15 minutes, clean up and set the table and get ready to enjoy!
Green Bean Casserole. . Reinvented.
For the casserole:
- 2-3 tablespoons Country Crock spread
- 1 fresh garlic clove; minced
- 1 pound fresh green beans cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil; split
- 3-4 cups cremini mushrooms; sliced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme; leaves only
- 1 medium onion; cut in half and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- fresh ricotta cheese; in small chunks or crumbles use as much or little as you want
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh parsley; diced
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons Country Crock spread
- 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour start with 2 and add another tablespoon if needed
- 2 cups milk; whole or 2%
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- shallow baking dish
For the casserole:
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat the Country Crock spread in a large pan over medium-high heat. After it starts melting a bit, add the garlic and then after a couple minutes, add the fresh green beans and cook until softened, for about 4 minutes.
- While the green beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. After a minute or two, add the mushrooms, onion powder and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, for about 3 to 5 minutes. During the last minute or two of cooking, add the fresh thyme and continue cooking. Combine the green beans and mushrooms, pour into the baking dish and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, paprika, garlic powder and salt in a separate shallow dish. Add the sliced onion and toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. After a minute or two, add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
For the Béchamel Sauce and remaining steps for the casserole:
- In a medium saucepan, heat the Country Crock over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk until smooth; you will have a semi-thick batter. Warm the milk in a separate saucepan or in the microwave and add in the milk, 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Whisk to combine and pour over the green bean and mushroom mixture into your casserole dish.
- Mix altogether so the green beans and mushrooms are coated with the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle on the ricotta cheese, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (just enough to lightly cover the top) and crispy onions to cover the top and then sprinkle on the fresh parsley.
- Bake the casserole until bubbling, for about 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.