Exactly once a year, around Thanksgiving, I get a craving for that classic green bean and cream-of-mushroom side dish topped with fried onion rings. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the holiday feast — but it’s made with far-from-perfect ingredients: frozen french-cut beans, Campbell’s cream-of-mushroom soup and Heinz crispy onions. In other words, a processed food nightmare.
This holiday, I’ve tried rebooting this old recipe so my family and I can enjoy this dish without supporting the industrial agriculture juggernaut and subjecting ourselves to known carcinogens in our food.
This dish is far too yummy to remain stuck in the 70s. Give a try with and without the optional “secret ingredient” — the Point Reyes blue cheese — and let me know what you think!
1 Lb fresh green beans, ends removed, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, diced
About a dozen Cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 T olive oil
2 t dried thyme
3 T flour
2 T butter
Approximately 1 C of 2% milk
1 oz Point Reyes blue cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C panko breadcrumbs
1/2 C raw dehydrated onions (look for them at Whole Foods)
Steam the green beans to al dente in lightly salted water, about 5 minutes. (My grandfather would let the water cool a bit and then drink it like a tea/health tonic. It’s really good — and loaded with nutrients exuded by the beans when they’re cooking.)
Meanwhile, sautée the onions and mushrooms in 1 T of olive oil until tender and lightly browned, adding thyme plus salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the green beans with the onions and mushrooms in a casserole dish and set aside.
Now create a roux with the butter and flour over low heat and slowly add the milk until you have smooth sauce-like consistency. Optionally, add the blue cheese and allow it to melt into the sauce. Add more milk if the mixture gets too thick. When satisfied with the sauce, pour it over the green beans, mushrooms and onions and stir to coat.
Top with breadcrumbs and dehydrated onions and bake for 10-15 minutes at 325° until the sauce bubbles and the onions on top start to crisp up. Allow to cool for five minutes before serving.