I will now admit to having a true fondness for the casserole, especially the French-fried onion part of the equation, but it’s time for a change. Right now, I’m leaning toward something simpler and lighter like sautéed chard or green beans with shallots. If you're one who likes to stick closer to tradition, I’ve modernized the recipe by using fresh green beans, a simple roux, shiitake mushrooms and sherry. For the topping, there are these little sesame stick snacks available in the bulk section of natural food stores. Of course it’s not the same thing, but I feel that it’s a tasty, chemical free and lower sodium option that stays pretty faithful to the spirit of the original.
Modern Green Bean Casserole
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup turkey or chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1/4 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup sesame sticks
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Blanch green beans in salted water for 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender, drain and set aside.
Warm the milk and broth together in a small saucepan.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm the butter until foamy. Add the onion, mushrooms, thyme and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Add the flour and lower heat. Stir flour into the vegetables for about a minute and then gradually whisk in the warmed milk and broth. Whisk until smooth, add sherry and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Toss in the cooked green beans and stir to coat with the sauce. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole, top with sesame sticks and bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.