This is yet another dish inspired by my mother. As in most families, green bean casserole is a mainstay at holiday tables. The over salted, mushy veggies, and lack of mushroom flavor is unfortunately the main characteristics of what I grew up with; this dish couldn't be further from what we've come to know. When my mother made this for me to try, I couldn't believe how good it was - I ended up eating all of it with no accompaniments. Although I love green beans, this side will probably still please the most discernible pallets i.e. my 21 month old.
In the time it takes to make a traditional green bean casserole (probably less), you get tender crisp beans and lots of mushroom flavor. Best yet, the creamy texture and taste is provided by soy milk and nuts (either cashews or almonds).
The recipe makes a good sized batch, so it is plenty to dress green beans for a crowd. I freeze half of it when I make it for just the 3 of us, and it keeps for up to a month in the freezer in a tightly sealed container. Just place it in the fridge the night before you plan on using it to let it thaw, then warm it in the microwave.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small or 1/2 medium sweet onion finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp fresh
1/4 c dry sherry
1 c soy milk**
1/2 c raw cashews or raw almonds
1 lb trimmed and cleaned green beans (or 2 to use the entire batch of sauce)
1 tbsp salt* for boiling water
pinch salt and pepper
If you plan on boiling your beans, fill a large pot 2/3 full of water and bring to boil. Add 1 tbsp of salt.
In a your largest skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Add sliced creminis with another pinch of s & p, and saute till the liquid in the mushrooms starts to release.
Sprinkle the thyme over the mushrooms, breaking it up between your fingers if it is dry to help release some of the oils. Saute till all the liquid is gone (about 5 - 6 minutes) and add the sherry. Cook stirring occasionally till the sherry has nearly evaporated.
Once the water for the beans is boiling, add them to the pot and stir well. Once the water has come back to boil, let them boil gently for 3 minutes (or 2 if you like them a bit more crisp).
Meanwhile, add the soy milk and nuts to a food processor and blitz for about 30 seconds. I tend to prefer cashews here, although I know almonds are a very popular pairing with green beans. Since I already find a subtle almond nuttiness to the beans, I like to use the cashews since they are milder in flavor and allow the mushrooms to become more of a main flavor of the dish. If you are wild about almonds with green beans, those are still nice to use- whatever you prefer.
Add the cooked mushroom and onion mixture to the processor and run for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and blitz for 45 more seconds. Drain the beans and add back to the saute pan, and pour half of the sauce over the beans and stir till fully combined. Serve immediately, or let hang out in the pan (covered), and heat over low to rewarm them when you're ready to serve.
*I prefer to boil my green beans, but you can cook them in the same pan as the mushrooms and onions. Just add 1/3 c of water to the pan, cover and cook till they are done to your liking.
**An important note about the soy milk you plan on using - it must be plain and unsweetened. I like to use Trader Joe's Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk because not only is it vegan and gluten free, it is the only one that they carry that doesn't have carrageenan, which has been found to be a carcinogen.