I never thought that string of words would come out of my mouth.
But you know, sometimes when you’re trying to find that balance, the inevitable happens. You set out to make a healthier version of the classic green bean casserole, and as you dip your little toe into testing those healthier waters you realize that, with just a couple of minor swaps, this dish could easily be transformed into a Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole.
So let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. Green bean casserole has always been a favorite of my dad’s, and I’d always eat it when it was set in front of me, but to be honest, it didn’t light up my life quite like a juicy roast turkey or a Sweet with Heat Yam Casserole.
Pair that blasé feeling with the fact that the classic green bean casserole recipe isn’t all that healthy, and you have your reason for why I had never 100% committed to the dish. But something happened to me this past year, and that thing happened to be my discovery of the amazing wonder-condiment called cashew cream.
I’ve already used cashew cream in sooo many recipes, like this Sweet Potato Toast with Broccoli Rabe, Tomato and Cashew Cream, these Spicy Stuffed Pasilla Peppers with Cashew Cream Sauce and this Curry Gnocchi with White Lamb Bolognese. It is just such a versatile ingredient, and I can’t help thinking of more and more ways to incorporate it into my balanced way of eating.
When I was brainstorming some new Thanksgiving recipe ideas for the blog this year, I figured I should finally try to tackle the typically lackluster (and very unhealthy) green bean casserole and make it into a recipe that I could really stand behind. Because when you’re a food blogger for a living, you want to make allllll the foods taste even better, you feel me?
We all know that one of the star ingredients in green bean casserole is cream of mushroom soup (Campbell’s has probably made a killing off of their recipe with those crispy French’s onions) but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not the biggest fan of heavily processed foods and try to avoid them whenever possible. Enter my new favorite condiment – cashew cream! I knew I could make a creamy, mushroom-y sauce just as delicious using this easy, healthy, three-ingredient sauce.
I also decided I wanted to make my own crispy onions in lieu of the classic French’s your grandma probably has stacked up in her pantry (see above mention of my aversion to heavily processed foods.) A quick search through the interwebs led me to Alton Brown’s from-scratch Best Ever Green Bean Casserole, and if anyone knows how to do a crispy onion like a boss, you can bet it’s Alton Brown. I kept his recipe by my side for guidance as I improv’d my way through creating a Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole.
So here’s the lowdown:
You’re going to want to start by making your crispy onions. Our onion rings are baked in the oven with a light coating of flour, salt and Panko breadcrumbs, so no need to worry about frying here. (Hallelujah!)
While the onions are baking, you’re going to want to blanch your green beans and blend up your cashew cream (you can also make the cashew cream up to a day in advance if you can get your act together in time.)
Next, it’s time to saute your mushrooms. Some garlic, some nutmeg, a light dusting of flour to thicken, and a healthy glug of white wine are all we need to make these mushrooms ones to remember. Then we simply stir in our cashew cream, some of the crispy onions, and our blanched green beans.
Transfer everything to your favorite baking dish, top with the rest of your onions, and pop back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so. Your Healthy (Vegan) Green Bean Casserole is complete!
You may already have your Thanksgiving menu locked down, but you can bet those vegan or health-minded individuals in your life would love you even more if you added this to the menu. What do you have to lose (besides a few extra calories to allow for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie?)
A healthy, dairy- and meat-free take on the classic holiday green bean casserole.
- 2 medium onions thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt divided
- 1 pound fresh green beans trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 16 ounces cremini or button mushrooms thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups cashew cream See Recipe in notes
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the onion slices, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup panko and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Pour coated onions onto baking sheet and bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times during this process to make sure they roast evenly.
While the onions are cooking, prepare the green beans. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Add green beans and boil for 3-5 minutes, until they feel crisp-tender. Immediately strain through a colander and then add green beans to an ice bath to keep them from continuing to cook and getting mushy.
Once the onions are done in the oven, remove and set aside. Turn oven down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, prepare the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a large, deep saute pan. Add minced garlic and saute in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add mushrooms, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine and let mushrooms cook until they have begun to release some of their water. Sprinkle mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to coat.
After a couple of minutes, add white wine and cashew cream. Stir everything until combined, then stir in ¼ of the onion rings and the green beans. Transfer this mixture to a casserole dish and top with remaining onion rings. Place in 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly. Be sure to keep an eye on the onion rings on top so they don’t burn. Serve warm.
To make the cashew cream: Soak 2 cups of raw, unsalted cashews in a bowl of water for at least 4 hours (or overnight.) Drain cashews and place in a high-powered blender with 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups filtered water. Blend on high until a smooth cream forms.
You can’t even tell it’s vegan!