Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not Green Bean Casserole-Part 1

Does anyone actually enjoy that sickly greenish grey concoction that takes up space on many tables in America on Thanksgiving day? I grew up in Canada, so I'm not used to it I'll admit. But why is it there if if doesn't taste good?

Don't get me wrong, I love green beans. They're one of my favorite foods.

The monstrosity known as green bean casserole however bears no resemblance to the vegetable I love. And I intend to rescue it from such shameful treatment and bring it back into the realm of tasty. Ready?

To begin with, nix the canned beans. Look, I understand that long ago, before refrigeration, people need to preserve their summer vegetables to keep them from going to waste, and to have something green to eat in the winter. And though they have less nutrients after the canning process, canned green beans are still better than no vegetables at all and scurvy. But it's the 21st century now. We have a choice. You can purchase them fresh and raw in November, or frozen at peak freshness. Either of these taste much better than the store bought canned version. (I say store bought because I've known some amazing canners in my lifetime and their canned green beans were tasty, crisp, flavorful, and usually also pickled and spicy. MMMM.)

So to rescue this traditional vegetable from mushy, nasty flavor hell we first need to start with fresh or frozen. Already the flavor will be improved 100%. Frozen is actually cheaper than canned these days. I can buy 1.5 lbs of frozen french green beans at Trader Joe's this month for $2. In fact, I just did. It would take at least 8-10 cans at $0.60 each to give me the same number of green beans.

Next, stop with the cans of onion soup! Please! Just back away from the green beans, put your can opener down. I will show you how to serve these.


Steam them, in a steamer, or pot, but only for a few minutes. Do this less than 10 minutes before you serve dinner. AS SOON as they turn a lovely shade of very bright green remove them from the heat. "I will never ever again eat gray green beans." Say it with me.

As soon as you take them from the heat add a generous amount of real butter to them, as well as sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover and keep warm. Serve as soon as you can. (Don't yell at me about the butter. You were going to put canned cream of onion soup on it. Besides, it's Thanksgiving. Also, secret, you can cut a bit of butter and add more salt, which brings out the flavor of the butter and no one will ever know. Since it's sea salt it's not quite as bad for you.)

If you really love those crunchy fried onion things that usually top the casserole, go ahead and sprinkle them on top of the beans just before serving. Personally, I would go with slivered almonds or peanuts to add crunch.

I PROMISE. If all you do is this you will have people saying over and over, "These green beans are really good. Wow, what did you do with them?"

They just taste good if you treat them right.

Now, since this is my go to method of serving green beans, I like to jazz it up a bit for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I will tell you what I'm going to do with my green beans next week. Here it is.
Garlic and Chili Green Beans

photo by ccharmon Used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.

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