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Thanksgiving Green beans: Traditional Casserole vs. Lighter (no less delicious!) Salad

November 21, 2016



Thanksgiving, the food lover's highlight on the seasonal calendar. I've written before about how Thanksgiving is a new holiday to Charlie and I, as the British calendar does not include it. It is, however our fourth festive season in the States and, we are very lucky to be able to say, our fourth season of Friendsgiving dinners!

That over-full and completely stuff feeling post dinner is about as traditional as the turkey itself! This year, if you're looking for a lighter version of the classic green bean casserole try my recipe for a lighter (but no less delicious!) salad version, complete with creamy (but not naughty) garlic dressing.



Ingredients:

1 lb green beans
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1oz butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sherry (optional- but highly recommended!)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon flour
1 cup cornbread
splash olive oil
salt and pepper


Steam or boil the green beans, whichever is your preference. If you have purchased packaged green beans its super simple to stab a few holes in the bag and throw in the microwave to steam for 4-5 minutes until tender. What ever method of cooking you use, cook the beans until tender but not soft, and allow to drain completely.


In a large pan, like a dutch oven or stock pot, melt the butter then gently fry the garlic for a few minutes on a medium heat.


Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry. Conventional cooking wisdom would warn you against overcrowding the pan with mushrooms, I would completely agree in circumstance when you desire a crispy mushroom, however overcrowding isn't a concern in this recipe.

The mushrooms will release a lot of liquid as they cook, which would make for soggy mushrooms if you we're intended to cook them quickly. Keep on cooking the mushrooms for 25 -30 minutes on a medium heat, until they have reabsorbed all the liquid- this will make them dense and rich with flavour.





If you are using sherry- turn up the heat under the pan to high, when the mushrooms are sizzling fiercely, splash in the sherry and cook until it has reduced to almost nothing. Turn the heat back to medium. 

Add the cream and stir in well, cook everything together for 10 minutes- use a teaspoon of flour to thicken the sauce if neccessary, the consistency should thickly coat the back of a wood spoon.

Turn out the heat then add the beans to the sauce and stir to coat, pour everything into a large baking dish and spread the crumbled cornbread over the top. 

Bake in the oven at 360F for 35- 40 minutes, until the cornbread is golden and crunchy, and the sauce bubbles up around the edges of the beans.



* this is a pre oven final photo, I made this to bring to a Friendsgiving and we ended up having so much fun we ate everything before I took a final cooked photo! Imagine this, just browner!





Ingredients:

1lb green beans
1 tablespoon fennel seed
splash of olive oil
salt and pepper
5oz arugula
4oz pecan nuts
4oz dried cranberries
about 8oz cornbread

For the dressing:

10 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons 0% fat greek yoghurt
1 heaped tablespoon roasted garlic
salt and pepper



Cut the cornbread into cubes about an inch square. Spread out on a baking dish, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Lay the beans out evenly on a baking dish, use more than one dish so that the beans aren't layered too thick. Sprinkle over the fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and drizzle over the olive oil. Toss the beans in the seasonings and oil, then roast the bean and cornbread croutons at 375F for 30-40 minutes, the beans should be tender with a little colour and char on the edges, the cornbread croutons should be deep gold in colour and crunchy.


Allow the beans to cool completely- you can roast the chill the beans up to two or three days before assembling and serving the final salad.


In a food processor (or in a bowl paired with an immersion blender), mix the dressing ingredients until smooth.

The yoghurt makes for a really creamy, comforting dressing whilst keeping the dressing relatively low in fat!



Build the salad on a large platter, start with a base of arugula leaves, drape the beans across the platter, then generously sprinkle over the cranberries and pecans. 



Finish with the croutons on top, rather than dress the salad, I offer the dressing on the side for guests to add themselves- this was they can choose how indulgent they want to be: few croutons and a little dressing for a truly virtuous plate; piled high with crunchy cornbread bits and heaps of creamy dressing for a little more comfort!




Which green bean dish do you think you'll be making this Thanksgiving?


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