Anyone who’s gone vegan, sugar-free or gluten-free knows that often in our attempts at recreating old favorites to fit our dietary restrictions, we end up creating a dish that’s inherently much healthier as well.
This is not one of those dishes.
I’m sorry to say, but there comes a point in ones life where health concerns must surrender in the interest of taste, and for me that point is usually somewhere around the month of December. We can always change back our ways come the new year — that’s what resolutions are for, right?
Now, before I go giving this grean been casserole such a bad rap, let me just say that, well, it is made with a vegetable after all. And vegan sour cream is somewhat less fat-laden than the dairy-made stuff. And I made the topping using reduced fat potato chips — not the full-fat kind. So, there. Take it for what it’s worth.
I was inspired to make a vegan green bean casserole by my friend Charlie, who made one for Thanksgiving using canned mushrooms (thickened with some cornstarch) and dairy-free sour cream. He then topped his with the traditional french fried onions. As my unofficial guinea pig for a green bean casserole recipe (I was secretly waiting to see how his idea turned out before attempting my own…), he reported positive results and rave reviews from his Thanksgiving taste-testers. Thus, confidence in my own green bean casserole attempts immediately soared. Thanks, Charlie!
Because my own taste-tester (that would be the hubs) has some sort of mushroom phobia, I had to proceed with caution in this department. There are only a few things, I’ve learned, that he will really pick out of his plate, and one of those things seems to be certain types of mushrooms (though he will tell you he’s coming around to liking them). As a result, I decided to go with the clear front-runner on his mushroom list, which would be shiitakes. Luckily, their earthy flavor and somewhat meaty texture make them a great addition to green bean casserole, along with some caramelized onions in the filling.
To replicate the crunch of french fried onions in the topping (the ones I’ve seen in stores are not gluten-free), I had many ideas. I considered making my own french fried onions, but nixed that thought once I considered the work that would involve. I thought about baking the casserole with gluten-free bread crumbs on top. I also considered using no topping at all, but immediately dismissed this notion as culinary blasphemy. I mean, what is the point of green bean casserole if you’re not going to top it with something salty and crunchy? Ultimately, I went with crushed potato chips, with the addition of a little nutritional yeast for flavor. It may not be traditional, but it yielded a nice crunch and a wonderful contrast to the creaminess underneath.
Here are some other veganized green bean casserole recipes that might be of interest:
And just to remind everyone, leave a comment on my previous post (eggnog ice cream) to enter the giveaway for a Cuisiart Mini Food Processor. Even if you already have a food processor, a mini one is great for small-prep items and even has a grind function on it. It’s a great space-saver as well. And, since I’ve heard some feedback that while the food processor is nice, what everyone is really pining for is an ice cream maker, I got to thinking (since it is the holidays, after all). That I might just follow-up this giveaway with a little something along those lines. And, since (in the interest of fairness) all winners will be chosen at random by my computer, who’s to say someone might not get lucky and win both? Anyways, stay tuned…
Green Bean Casserole:
1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
10 shiitake caps, sliced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 cup Follow Your Heart Sour Cream Alternative
1/3 cup Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons nutritonal yeast
40 Kettle Brand baked potato chips, crushed (next time I make this I am going to crush the chips a little more coarsely than shown in the picture for some more texture and crunch)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. In a large saute pan, saute onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes over high heat, or until onion is soft, transluscent and browned. Add shiitake caps and saute until soft (1-2 minutes). Add vegetable broth, stir, and turn off heat. Stir in sour cream alternative, vegenaise and green beans. Toss to combine and add a pinch of salt to taste.
4. Turn out green bean filling into a 2 qt. shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with nurtitional yeast. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes, or until green beans are softened to your liking and sides are bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with crushed potato chips and serve immediately.