fancy green bean casserole

September 15, 2010

This green bean casserole is a fresh take on the Midwestern classic, but it loses none of its creamy, buttery taste and texture.

You won’t find any cream of mushroom soup or canned fried onions here, I’m afraid.  This casserole isn’t really all that fancy but it does omit those crazy ingredients and instead focus on whole, real ingredients to create something pretty delightful.

Butter, shallots, shiitake mushrooms, fresh parmesan, more butter….you see where this is going. Cayenne pepper and nutmeg give the Béchamel-type sauce a real depth that I’m pretty sure you can’t get in a can.

I’m convinced that the smell of onions sauteing in butter is one of the greatest smells of all time. That, coupled with the beautiful 80 degree, September sunshine beaming into my kitchen made cooking this a truly great experience.

We got these green beans at the farmers’ market last weekend and they were still perfectly crisp and fresh a week later. Love.

Fancy Green Bean Casserole

adapted from Martha Stewart


Serves 8

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with mushroom mixture; set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk gradually, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine.
  4. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole.
  5. Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  6. Heat broiler, positioning rack about 8 inches from heat. Cook casserole, covered, until mixture is bubbly and heated through, about 10-20 minutes. Uncover, and cook until top is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle fried shallots over top, and serve immediately.

Hot, creamy, buttery, perfect. Eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven to taste it in all its piping-hot cheesy glory. Yum.

For more “fancy” takes on American classics, you might want to try:

> posh mac and cheese

> eggplant parmesan

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