Perhaps an unpopular opinion: Green bean casserole is the star of Thanksgiving. I said it! Who can resist the creamy, salty, umami-rich mushroom base; the melt-in-your-mouth green beans; the counterpoint of the crispy French-fried onions? Certainly not me. The worst part about green bean casserole (or GBC, as I lovingly like to call it) is that not everyone at the Thanksgiving table can enjoy it—until now.
Here, to satisfy omnivores and vegan eaters alike, I recreated the good old GBC with just as much of the rich, comforting vibes and textural contrasts as the original. We'll use caramelized fresh mushrooms and cashew cream in place of the mushroom soup mix, and we'll make our own fried shallots, too (this takes a second to prep for, but it's so easy and so worth it). We'll also make this entirely on a stovetop so we can save oven space for the stuffing and pies—both savory and sweet.
A few notes before you begin:
1) You won’t use all of the shallot oil in this recipe, but that’s a good thing—keep it covered and at room temperature for up to a week. Use it to roast or saute vegetables or toss with cooked noodles; stir it into hummus, dip bread into it; and so much more.
2) You can whip up the cashew cream ahead of time and store it in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use. Just take it out of the fridge as you're making the rest of the dish to let it come to room temperature, and thin out with shallot oil as needed.
3) You can also pre-cook the green beans ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the dish; also feel free to use an equivalent amount of frozen and thawed green beans if you'd prefer. I haven't tested this one with drained canned green beans, which I know is traditional for the dish, but it may lead to an extra-mushy result and I wouldn't recommend it for this particular iteration of the casserole. —Brinda Ayer
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 4
(5.2 oz, or 150 grams) whole raw cashews
large shallots (or 4 to 5 small ones), sliced, plus 1 large shallot (or 2 small ones), finely chopped
neutral oil, for frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
garlic cloves, minced
red chile flakes
finely minced rosemary leaves
mixed mushrooms, sliced (I went for cremini and button, but shiitake or oyster would also be very good here, as would rehydrated and chopped shiitakes or porcinis)
- Add the cashews to a medium heat-proof mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. (The cashews can soak while you slice and fry the shallots and steam the green beans.)
- Prepare the fried shallots: To another medium bowl, add the flour and a big pinch of salt and stir with a fork or whisk to combine. Add the sliced shallots and toss in the flour mixture until they’re well coated and a very rough, shaggy crust forms on top of the shallots.
- Heat a medium heavy-bottomed skillet (like cast-iron or stainless steel) over medium heat and fill with enough oil to come up about ½ inch up the sides. Prepare a paper towel-lined plate and grab a spider or slotted spoon. When the oil is shimmering, add a single battered shallot to gauge the heat level. If the shallot immediately sizzles, you’re good to go; if it sinks to the bottom without any bubbles surrounding it, turn the heat up a smidge and wait another minute. When the oil is hot, add the shallots in an even layer and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Keep an eye on these, as they go from toasty and fragrant to burnt and bitter in an instant. Remove fried shallots from the pan immediately and place on the paper-towel lined plate, sprinkling with a pinch of salt while they’re still hot. Cool the shallot oil in the skillet for a few minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl to remove shallot solids. Discard any shallot solids and keep the oil aside. No need to wash the skillet, as you’ll be using it a bit later.
- Meanwhile, cook the cut green beans. You can do this in the microwave (my favorite shortcut!) by setting them in a large microwaveable bowl and letting them go on high for 4 to 5 minutes, until the beans are bright green, fork-tender, and still a little snappy. Alternatively, set a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Cook beans in the boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, strain, and immediately add to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.
- Make the cashew cream. Drain the soaked cashews, then in a high-speed blender, combine drained, soaked cashews, ½ cup fresh water, 2 tablespoons shallot oil, and nutritional yeast. Blend until very smooth and creamy, starting on low and going up to high, about 5 minutes. Add additional water or shallot oil as needed, one tablespoon at a time, if your blender gets stuck. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, blend again to combine, and set aside.
- Grab the skillet that you used to fry the shallots and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved shallot oil, heating over medium heat. When it’s shimmering, add the chopped shallot plus a big pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic, chile flakes, and rosemary, plus a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, cooking for another minute until very fragrant. Add the mushrooms to the pan, plus another pinch of salt, and saute until the mushrooms have expelled most of their liquid and begun to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the soy sauce and stir, lowering the heat so the sugars don’t burn. Add the cashew cream to the mixture and stir well to incorporate, adding water (for a lighter sauce) or additional shallot oil (for something richer and more unctuous), a tablespoon at a time, as needed for the mixture to become the consistency of hollandaise sauce. Finally, add in the cooked green beans and toss, coating with the cashew cream mixture and warming the beans through, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Take the beans off the heat, then transfer to the serving vessel of your choice (or serve in the same skillet). Top with the fried shallots and serve.