Green bean casserole is one of those side dishes that always seems to show up at holiday gatherings. Made with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onions, the dish is traditional fare at Thanksgiving feasts in many homes around America.
For those of you who are adventuresome and are looking for a new side dish for the upcoming holiday, here is a green bean casserole with a little twist.
Green Bean Gratin
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for the baking dish
¾ cup sliced shallots
1 red bell pepper, seeded, finely diced
8 to 10 ounces mixed sliced mushrooms such as shiitake (remove stems) and cremini
Kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry sherry
2 cups whole milk or 2 percent milk
1 round (5¼ ounces) Boursin cheese (regular or light)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¾ cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
¾ cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or favorite casserole dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans, then plunge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking. When beans are chilled, drain and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the mushrooms have given up their liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in the sherry, mixing well, then add the milk while whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute, then cook for 3 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the Boursin cheese, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon zest and tarragon. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the reserved green beans and toss to combine. Transfer to the baking dish. (The recipe may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
To finish: In a small bowl, stir together the panko, Parmesan and almonds. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and pour over the bread crumb mixture and toss to combine. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the green beans. Bake until the topping is golden and the bean mixture is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Note: You can trim and blanch the green beans for this recipe up to 2 days in advance. Store them in a plastic sealable bag in the refrigerator.
Yield: Serves 12 (generously as a side dish).
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 277 calories, 61 percent of calories from fat, 20 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 18 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 446 milligrams sodium, 41 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams fiber.