I can remember the very first time I tasted Green Bean Casserole. I was 10 years old. We were on our way to Nova Scotia from Manitoba and my parents had decided to go through the states to get there. My mother's cousin Polly and her family lived (and still do) in Vermont. We spent some time visiting with them and enjoying their hospitality. Supper was served out in their garden at a picnic table and Green Bean Casserole was on the menu. It was love at first bite.
I have to say that no green bean casserole I have ever tasted since has come close to the memory of the taste of that one we enjoyed in the dusk of an early summer evening, sitting at that picnic table outside that old house on top of a Vermont hillside. I am sure it was the company which made it even more delicious.
This is a lighter version of that. There are no cream soups involved. I make my own sauce. There is plenty of caramelized fresh onion, which more than makes up for the lack of tinned french fried onions. There is plenty of crunch on top from crushed cracker crumbs . . .
I could sit and eat a whole plate of this and nothing else. It pleases me that much. It went very well with the Gingersnap Glazed Ham I baked the other day.
It felt good to be eating something a little bit lighter than all of that indulgence of our Christmas feasting. This is a dish I make every now and again, and everytime I do I ask myself why I don't make it more often.
Probably because it is a dish I reserve for special occasions, choosing in my every day life to eat my vegetables simply steamed . . . were it not so, I daren't think of the size I would be. In any case its a new year and there is no better way to begin it than with a happy memory and a delicious side dish.
*A Lighter Green Bean Casserole*Serves 4 - 6
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves12 round buttery crackers, crumbled
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Blanche the green beans in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the chopped onion, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, over low heat until the onions begin to caramelize. This will take about 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a shallow casserole dish.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions in the saucepan. Cook, stirring for several minutes. Whisk in the warm chicken broth. Whisk constantly until thickened. (It will be fairly thick.) Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper. Stir in the thyme leaves. Add the green beans and stir well to coat. Spread in the casserole dish. Crumble the crackers over top.. Cover tightly with a buttered sheet of foil. (In truth I spritz it with a bit of low fat cooking spray.)
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the beans are tender and the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Remove and keep warm. Serve warm as a delicious side dish.
Bon Appetit mes amis!! ! Bon Appetit!