Green bean casserole isn’t called the "mother of all comfort foods” for nothing. The iconic American dish — which is estimated to appear on thirty million tables over the course of the holiday season — continues to set the Thanksgiving gold standard. This year, my family is going to borrow some Southern charm from that doyenne of holiday entertaining, Sister Schubert, using her recipe that features those delicious rolls as topping.
Sister Schubert's rolls are renowned throughout the South as the better-than-homemade detail that finishes every tabletop. Sister is, of course, a real person – a Southern mom named Patricia Barnes whose homemade rolls were so delicious that she built an empire on them. She learned how to bake at her grandmother's elbow, so you're still serving up a family recipe at your own table – it's just not your family.
Which in this case is probably a good thing. My grandmother's Green Bean Casserole was always out of a can, which is definitely easy, but doesn't always taste as homemade as it should. This recipe is not much harder than the old "dump-and-stir," but the results are about a hundred times superior. What really makes it better? Well first, a creamy béchamel sauce laced with mushrooms and shallots provides a rich and savory base, and crisp-tender beans offer a delightful bite to contrast with the rest of the creaminess.
The best part, however, is the inspired twist on the ubiquitous crunchy fried-onion topping. A generous handful of crumbled Sister Schubert’s rolls are tossed with olive oil and Parmesan, then sprinkled lavishly over the dish before cooking. The bread-y morsels are herby and sweet, and marry so well with the flavors in the dish.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be celebrating your own family's traditions. In fact, you should be adding to them. Sister Schubert's has just launched Needlequotes, a service where you can enter in your favorite family quotes or sayings – funny, poignant, or inspirational – and the site will generate a digital 'needlepoint' of that saying! Then you can share it with the family members of your choice. You can also enter for a chance to win two fabulous gift baskets from Sister Schubert's, one for you and one for the loved one of your choice, filled with all the things you've ever wanted for a gorgeous holiday tabletop – table linens, votives, salt and pepper shakers, a bread basket, and of course plenty of Sister Schubert's rolls to fill it out.
It honors Sister's love of needlepointing, but it also honors your own family. Whether it's your grandmother's pithy advice (mine was "Always remember to wear lipstick." Thanks, Nana!), a record of what each person was most thankful for this year, or the hilarious thing your uncle said that you can't stop giggling about, this is a fun new tradition for the family dinner table.
But back to our other new tradition – this exquisite Green Bean Casserole. You may long for the classic dish of your youth, but after one bite you’ll never look back. It truly is a dish made in heaven, and definitely worthy of plenty of thanks.
Sister Schubert’s Green Bean Casserole
Yields 6 - 8 servings
For the topping
6 Sister Schubert Parker House Rolls, defrosted and crumbled into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup 2% or whole milk
4 ounces regular or reduced fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces shredded white or yellow cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 pounds green beans, blanched, cooled and cut into 2” pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for topping and set aside.
Heat oil in a small skillet, add shallots and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until all moisture evaporates, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and continue to cook for 1 minute. Pour in milk and stir until mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Add cream cheese, salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Fold in cheddar cheese, add green beans and pour all into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle topping mixture over beans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Serve warm.