Thursday, December 27, 2007

Farmer's Market Green Bean Casserole

I call this “Farmer’s Market” Green Bean Casserole because it uses fresh green beans, mushrooms, and garlic rather than the frozen veggies and canned soup called for by traditional versions of this recipe. I like it because it tastes good, it satisfies the emotional connection to “traditional” holiday food without pinging my vegan-dar, and most of the work can be done up to 24 hours ahead of time. This is a long one, so I’ll get right to it.

Farmer’s Market Green Bean Casserole
Serves 10 to 12
Adapted from Nov/Dec 2006 Cook’s Illustrated


Topping

  • 4 slices vegan sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters(1)
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter(2)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ ground black pepper
  • 6-ounce can fried onions (about 3 cups)

Beans and Sauce

  • Salt
  • 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter(2)
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean(3), and broken or chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached flour (or whole wheat or all-purpose – whatever you have on-hand)
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cups plain Soy Creamer(4)

To Do the Day Before

  1. BEANS AND SAUCE: Up to 24 hours ahead of time, bring 4 quarts water with 2 tablespoons salt to boil in large pot. Prepare beans while waiting and add them to pot when water boils. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. While waiting, fill a large bowl with ice water. When beans are done, drain them in a colander and immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain.
  2. Add butter to the now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add prepared mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 ½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 9 by 13-inch) baking dish. Allow to cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  4. TOPPING: Pulse bread, vegan butter, salt, and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Do not add onions until just before baking. Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator.

To Do the Day Of

  1. BEANS AND SAUCE: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and heat casserole in oven for 10 minutes.
  2. TOPPING: Remove topping mixture from airtight container, place in bowl, and combine with onions. Sprinkle topping on casserole and bake until top is golden brown (as you can see from the picture above, I left mine in a little too long - thank goodness it was still delicious) and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE ONE: If you don’t need to prepare the casserole and topping ahead of time, you can make this dish straight through by eliminating the initial 10-minute baking period. Simply arrange green beans and sauce in baking dish, sprinkle with combined topping, and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE TWO: If making a half batch, reduce the cooking time of the sauce from 12 minutes to 6 minutes (or reduce to 1 ¾ cups) and the final baking step to 4 to 10 minutes.

(1) I used whole wheat sunflower seed bread – just follow your intuition on your bread selection.
(2) I used EARTH BALANCE® NATURAL BUTTERY STICKS.
(3) Everyone knows not to wash mushrooms, right? Mushrooms will absorb any moisture they come in contact with and if you wash them, they’ll be slimy in your dish. Yuck! Clean your mushrooms by wiping with a soft cloth or with one of those fancy mushroom brushes.
(4) I used Silk Creamer.

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