November 20th, 2009

Greenbean Mushroom Casserole

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Serves 8

Did your childhood Thanksgiving come out of cans and boxes? And do you kinda sorta maybe just a little wittle bit miss it? That quivering cylinder of cranberry sauce, those salt spiked cubes of stuffing that came to life with a bit of water (or magic) and, my absolute favorite, I could eat it by the trough – the Greenbean Mushroom Casserole.

Now this was the real fake cooking, it had like three whole steps or something. Can of cream of mushroom soup, bag of frozen greenbeans, and if you could hold off on eating them, a tin of prefried onions.

There are plenty of Thanksgiving menus going around and maybe yours is already planned, but perhaps you can squeeze this baby in? It is a must for my table, all that creamy savory flavor and onion-y crunch. My version has a few real ingredients, but don’t let that fool you, it’s still as embarrassingly good as its predecessor.

This recipe is pretty flexible in terms of what kind of dish to use. My favorite is this 10×10 casserole I have, but if you don’t have that size, I’ve done it in an 11×13 pan and it was fine, just a little thinner. You can also double it for deeper casseroles. You’ll see that two of the ingredients are optional. I’ve done this with nutritional yeast and broth powder, and without. Those optional ingredients definitely add flavor, but you don’t miss ’em too much if they’re not around.

4 cups green beans (1 lb), fresh or frozen (ends chopped if fresh)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups creamy mushroom soup (one box)*
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder (optional, Frontier brand is my fave)
6 oz can of fried onions, divided*

Bring a pot of water to boil for the green beans. When ready, boil for about 7 minutes then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium-high heat, saute onions in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for 7 minutes more.

Mix the flour into the mushroom soup until very few lumps are left. Add to the pan along with the salt, peppers, and, if using, the nutritional yeast and vegetable broth powder. Stir often for about 10 minutes, until thickened.

Preheat oven to 375. Add the green beans to the pan and use your spatula chop them up a bit into smaller pieces (roughly in half). Mix in half of the fried onions. Transfer to an oiled casserole and top with the remaining onions. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until browned and bubbly. For yummiest results, let cool for at least 1/2 an hour before serving.

*A few words about finding vegan ingredients. The box of creamy mushroom soup is made by Imagine, and I believe they may have more than one vegan version. I remember a non-portobello one, but this year I couldn’t find it. But this is definitely vegan, for reference. Your Whole Foods will have it, but I bet it’s in well stocked groceries as well. As for the fried onions, French’s, the most popular brand, has Propylene Glycol, which seems to be questionably vegan and is, in any case, one of the main ingredients in under arm deodorant. Does that make you hungry? Probably not. Look for organic ones in your friendly neighborhood health food store. Here’s one brand from Holland, for reference. Last year Food Fight was carrying some good ones. But I had no problem finding them at a normalish grocery store in Portland.

Edited to add: Apparently Trader Joes is a source for healthier onions, too!

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