Shame on you for eating tomatoes in December, we say. Forgive you for you have eaten a peach in January. These are the rules we food people hold ourselves too: Thou shalt not eat out of season.
They’re good rules, mostly: Tomatoes suck in December where I come from; peaches are barely ghosts of themselves in the dead of winter. If we break our rules sneakily on occasion, year-round, we break them loudly and with abandon on Thanksgiving: On our northern tables, at least, we sin with corn pudding and with my aunt’s cherry-studded cranberry sauce. We sin with green bean casserole.
This recipe comes from Michael Solomonov (and his latest book Zahav), who riffed on green bean casserole in honor of the coinciding of Thanksgiving and the first day in Chanukah in 2013. This hadn’t happened in over 100 years, he writes in his headnote, and won’t for another 77,000, so if there ever was a time to upend grandma’s green bean recipe, it was then.
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Let’s keep messing with tradition this year: Do as Solomonov does, and put tahini in your green bean casserole. And lentils, a whole mess of them, fried until brown and crispy with shards of garlic. And don’t bake any of it—just sauté and mix and plate and serve. No French’s fried onions, no Campbell’s cream of something soup. Take a deep breath. Remember: Thanksgiving is our Rumspringa. We are allowed to be doing this. What happens on Thanksgiving stays on Thanksgiving.
I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.