05 December 2012

A Holiday Dinner Staple - Green Bean Casserole

Family Traditions ... December's Virtual Supper Club Theme
I wonder. Is there's a household in America that has not prepared this holiday staple at least once for one the big holiday meals? It has been a tradition in our family for over thirty years! Imagine my surprise to find a leaner and cleaner version of the original recipe!


This is not your mother's green bean casserole . It's a lighter version with far less salt and fat than the Campbell's Soup version that we all grew up with ... I came to it through a challenge from this month's Virtual Supper Club's Family Traditions theme. Turkey is a huge staple of our holiday tradition, but that main entree was taken by the time I began to think about the challenge post, so I fell back on this other mainstay of our family holiday meals. It's guaranteed that green bean casserole will make it onto the holiday table at either Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years ... this year, it was Thanksgiving.

We're still getting good green beans in the markets, so I made a small dish of Cooking Light's version of the old standard. It's a far cry from the old Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup and French's Fried Onions version, although the Cooking Light recipe does give French's the nod. There's still a small amount of those crispy onions topping the casserole! Some things are sacred, after all!

The lighter version has a bit more sophistication, though. The mushroom blend is Shitake and white buttons that are sauteed with onion and then given a dash of dry Sherry to flavour them. The sauce is lightened up with low-salt chicken broth ... I added a dash of half & half to mimic the 'cream of'' factor from the original recipe. The amount of sauce is greatly reduced so that the green beans and mushrooms are center stage instead of the goopy sauce that I remember from the original recipe. Overall, it's a much healther take on our holiday classic. Yum!

The beauty of this side is that the sauce can be made and the beans can be blanched ahead of time They're set aside until just before dinner time. While all the fussy dishes get put together, this little dish is just waiting for a quick toss together and a twenty minute finish in a hot oven ... easy and delish. That's why I love it.

Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole

Serves 8


1 ½ lb fresh green beans, washed, tipped and halved on the diagonal
2 tbsp olive oil
3 c. sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
8 oz. Shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
⅓ c. dry Sherry or Madeira wine
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. Flour
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
¼ c. half & half
1 c. canned fried onions (French’s!)
½ c. grated fresh Parmesan
sweet paprika for sprinkling

Making the Dish:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the prepared green beans and blanche them for exactly 4 minutes. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Place them in a bowl of ice water and set them aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and thyme. Sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue the sauté for five minutes.
  3. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until absorbed, then add the chicken broth to make a sauce. Once the sauce has thickened, add the half & half, stirring to make a smooth cream sauce.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 425 ° F and spritz a casserole dish with pan spray. Drain the green beans and add them to the sauce, tossing to combine.
  5. Turn the casserole into the baking dish.
  6. Mix the fried onions and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and sprinkle over top the casserole. Sprinkle on a bit of paprika and bake for 20 minutes or until the casserole bubbles and the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve piping hot.
Stop in to see what other members of Cooking Light's Virtual Supper Club are making to serve up their family traditions! This has shaped up to be a wonderful holiday meal! Here's hoping your holidays are happy and healthy!
December's Virtual Supper Club Menu
Appetizer - Tourtiére - Val of More Than Burnt Toast
Soup - Cioppino - Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen
Main Dish - Honey Thyme Brined Turkey Breast - Sandi of Whistlestop Cooking
Vegetable Side Dish - Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole - Susan of The Spice Garden
Dessert - Panettone - Jerry of Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants





  1. It is a wonderful tradition, isn't it? I love your addition of shitake mushrooms; must add a dash of earthiness. And the sherry would add a little "what is that" to! Great additions.

  2. Oh I'll have to try this! I'm not a big fan of the traditional dish, but my husband loves it. Of course, with his heart, he probably shouldn't be eating it, so perhaps this recipe will offer a good compromise!

  3. what a brilliant idea... i've never heard of this before so it must be very American... like a cauliflower cheese but with beans... I LIKE it!

  4. Leave it to Cooking Light to lighten up this classic holiday dish. I don't think it can get any more traditional than this! Thanks for joining Susan!

  5. Oh my - I have never EVER made this and I can't even think why not. I love the reduced sodium version - and am trying it this year for sure.

  6. This is a 'must have' at the McMichael table... now we can enjoy it guilt free!


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