The canonical American Thanksgiving green bean casserole is full of dairy, plus it makes liberal use of midcentury favorites, like condensed cream of mushroom soup. Here's how to make your own kosher (dairy-free), doable version with real mushrooms and fresh green beans.
If you ask me, Thanksgiving is not the time for heroics. Sure, it's NBD, for those of us who regularly produce consecutive three-course meals on yom tov, and just to up the ante, with the cheapie vegetable peeler on Pesach. (But why didn't I just spend the $3 more to get a decent one, you ask? Excellent point.) I mean, Thanksgiving! You can just turn the oven on and off and up and down whenever you very well please! But hear me out. One guy needs the sweet potato casserole. Another guy needs the cornbread. You definitely need the stuffing, and are you really going to skip the mashed potatoes, considering the gravy situation? No, you're going to have to make all the sides, and you're going to have to ration shelf space in the meat oven, and it's going to be a thing, and you don't need to be a hero.
And that's where this kosher green bean casserole comes in, the understated star of Thanksgiving sides, and now, in a doable iteration. It's got the from-scratch goodness of fresh mushrooms and green beans, but cheats a little in using store-bought fried onions and, optionally, mushroom soup mix for a little extra mushroom kick. Though there have been years, as in more than one, that I have insisted on making the whole thing from scratch, I would not recommend this. It involves deep-frying onions. (It doesn't work to oven-fry them; I know, because I tried.) Do you really need to add deep-frying to your Thanksgiving cooking olympics? If you do, I hear that, and I've included instructions below for the heroes among us. But if you want to just buy the fried onions, they are OU-parve and honestly perfect in green bean casserole. You can find kosher organic ones, too. And if you're already preemptively annoyed at having to use up the leftover fried onions that you buy once a year for Thanksgiving, they make great schnitzel coating. You're welcome.
Prepping the green beans
If you didn't buy your green beans trimmed (in the small bag) then you're going to have to snip off the tips. Either way, you're probably going to have to cut them in half, which I like to do with a pair of kitchen shears to make it go faster.
Next, we're going to blanch the green beans in a big pot of boiling water for a few minutes to soften them. You want them just slightly blanched, so take them out when they're a nice, bright green color, like in the photo at top left. By the time they go into the mushroom sauce (like in the photo at top right), they're still nice and bright and non-mushy.
Making the (dairy-free) creamy mushroom sauce
You'll want to make the mushroom sauce in your largest skillet, because you'll eventually be adding the green beans into the sauce. You start out by trimming and dicing the mushrooms, then cooking them down in a bit of margarine for 4-5 minutes. Then the garlic and nutmeg go in, and the flour gets sprinkled on top. After that, the chicken stock and then almond milk are added and simmer until thickened, 6-8 minutes.
In lieu of butter and cream, we're substituting margarine (I like Earth Balance) and almond milk here. To thicken the sauce, we're going to use a small amount of all-purpose flour, which you sprinkle over the the diced, cooked-down mushrooms. Chicken stock makes up the majority of the sauce—you can also use veg stock or water—with ½ cup almond milk for creaminess. The sauce will thicken up nicely and you'll have a creamy, kosher green bean casserole to show for it.
To make your own fried onions
Okay, heroes: thinly slice two onions into half-moons. Toss them with a mix of ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons cornmeal or bread crumbs, and a generous dash of salt and black pepper. Heat about 2" / 5 cm of high-temperature frying oil and deep fry in batches, removing with a skimmer and draining on a cooling rack set over absorbent towels.
Assembling the green bean casserole
Once the mushroom sauce is ready, you'll stir in some of the fried onions (⅔ cup) and toss the green beans with everything. Empty into a large baking pan, top with the more fried onions (another ⅔ cup), and bake until bubbly, 15-20 minutes.
Dairy-Free Green Bean Casserole (parve)
- 4 cups green beans - about 1 lb. / 500 g fresh
- 1 ⅓ cups fried onions - divided
- Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.
Blanche the green beans:
- First, boil the green beans for several minutes, until just softened and still bright green.
Make the creamy mushroom sauce:
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, plus mushroom soup powder, if using, and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the almond milk. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
Assemble and bake:
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in ⅔ cup fried onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining ⅔ cup onions.
- Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.