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Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole
November 16, 2011
By Jennifer Chandler

Fresh haricots verts and mushrooms are the base for this fresher, more modern take on green bean casserole, a Thanksgiving classic. Chopped pecans, panko bread crumbs and french fried onions make the topping.

JENNIFER CHANDLER/SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

Fresh haricots verts and mushrooms are the base for this fresher, more modern take on green bean casserole, a Thanksgiving classic. Chopped pecans, panko bread crumbs and french fried onions make the topping.

Green bean casserole, made with canned green beans and condensed cream of mushroom soup, is an iconic dish that most Americans expect on their Thanksgiving table.

I took the basic elements of this classic dish and gave it a fresher, more modern spin.

I substituted tender haricots verts for the canned green beans.

What are haricots verts? They are very small and slender green beans. (Haricot vertsis French for "green beans.") They tend to be more tender and flavorful. Most markets carry them fresh and frozen.

Next, instead of using canned soup as my sauce, I made a quick cream sauce and flavored it with shredded sharp white cheddar cheese.

Then, I tossed chopped pecans and panko bread crumbs with classic french fried onions for a crunchy topping.

This homemade version of the classic bean dish is sure to become a favorite at your house. It's so good, you'll serve it year-round.

Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) and "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99). She is the national spokeswoman for French's Mustards and French's French Fried Onions. She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters.

Cheddar-Pecan Green Bean Casserole

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish

1 1/2 lbs. fresh or frozen haricots verts, trimmed

8 oz. button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup french fried onions

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with butter and set aside.

Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to combine. Slowly stir in the broth and heavy cream. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the green beans and stir until well coated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

In a medium mixing bowl toss together the french fried onions, bread crumbs, and pecans. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir the melted butter into the onion mixture. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the green beans. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Source: "Simply Suppers" by Jennifer Chandler


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