Even though Thanksgiving is later than usual this year, it’s never too early to start planning your menu. Whether you are hosting at home or assigned to bring something to a friend or family member’s house, the green bean casserole is a classic dish for the occasion.
We asked Ally Stephens, chef and owner of Season to Taste Catering, to come up with a healthier version of this traditional side and Stephens went back to the basics. “Everything in this dish is made from scratch and you can pronounce all of the ingredients,” Stephens said. “We’ll skip the preservatives that can be found in the canned cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans or crispy onions.”
The crispy onions are one of the reasons this is such a popular item and has been since the 1950s. Stephens is able to mimic that taste and texture by using ground almonds (or panko if there is a tree nut allergy) to maintain that crunch factor. Instead of getting the can of cream of mushroom soup, which is a staple in many casseroles, a mushroom sauce is made from a base of almond milk (again, swap if there is an allergy) and fresh sliced mushrooms.
This healthy version of the green bean casserole will still pair well with the rest of the meal and vegetables will balance the heaviness of the other items on the table.
It will also be a crowd-pleaser because of the nostalgia of the dish.
“Traditions hold a special meaning for a lot of us,” Stephens said. “Preparing and sharing dishes that our parents and grandparents made every year makes us feel like we are home, wherever we are.”
Stephens suggests other ways to cut calories on this big feasting day:
- Bring a salad and put it onto your plate first so you get some nutrients before filling up on other high-calorie foods.
- Roast sweet potatoes instead of the candied and marshmallow version.
- Grill some veggies in order to provide more side dishes to the meal.
- Serve shrimp cocktail as an appetizer rather than cheeses, heavy dips, etc.
- Eat your dessert the night before or for breakfast.
Wait, dessert for breakfast? “Our family sometimes eats Thanksgiving dessert the night before or in the morning we’ll have a piece of pumpkin pie,” Stephens said. “It may not be cutting calories for the day, but you’re more likely to not force your body to overeat after a few glasses of wine and trips to the buffet table because you feel you have to have dessert. You’ve already had it.”
Here’s the recipe for the green bean casserole below, or you can leave the cooking to Season to Taste. Stephens is taking orders for everything from the turkey and sides to appetizers and desserts. The deadline for orders is Nov. 21 at 4 p.m. Delivery will be on Nov. 27. Contact Stephens for more details at www.seasontotasteco.com.
Healthy green bean casserole recipe
2 pounds green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup ground almonds (or panko if nut allergy)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or nutritional yeast)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
10-12 mushrooms, thinly sliced (baby bella, cremini, etc.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoon flour (or any other flour to keep it gluten-free)
½ cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other milk if nut allergy)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or nutritional yeast)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large casserole dish with olive oil and set aside. Blanch the green beans. To make the crispy onion topping, heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes or until they are tender and starting to brown. Remove the onions and place into a medium bowl. In the same pan you used to cook the onions, add the ground almonds. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Transfer the toasted ground almonds to the bowl with the onions. Stir in the 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and salt. Set aside
In the same pan, heat a little more olive oil until hot and add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms, and stir to combine
Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth, then whisk in the almond milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened.
Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese is melted then add the blanched green beans and toss to combine
Pour the green bean mixture into the prepared baking dish and then top with the crispy onion topping. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.