Thanksgiving is often a meal of big rich heavy flavors—stuffing, gravy, meat, creamed onions, mashed root vegetables, with lashings butter and cream—but green beans inherently are light and clean and almost refreshing. I wanted to bridge the gap.
I love to use crème fraîche in place of cream or sour cream because I like the very delicate sour tang with the rich full fat that rounds out of texture and flavor. I add toasted hazelnuts to mimic the fried onions of tradition, and they bring crunch as well as a pleasing buttery flavor contrast. Since green beans aren’t in season anyway, I suggest you use delicate and thin haricots verts instead of meaty green beans: They will be more delicate and tender, as well as a little sweeter, than overly large fall green beans (at least in New England, the original home of Thanksgiving!).
I couldn’t decide if casserole had to be baked or could be called casserole just on the basis of the dish it's served in, but in the end decided that yes, it could just be the serving platter. And the green beans are delicious enough that no one will miss the canned fried onions! —Sara Jenkins
Whisk the crème fraîche, vinegar, mustard, and olive oil together. Fold in the chives and set aside to reserve at room temperature.
Toast the hazelnuts in a pan on the stove over low heat about 4 to 5 minutes until just beginning to get golden in color and to smell nutty. Remove from the heat, roughly chop, and set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans until just bright green and crisp. Drain, then toss immediately with the crème fraîche mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with the toasted hazelnuts