Summery Green Bean Casserole

We've lightened up a winter favorite, keeping all the flavor elements intact (thick mushroom sauce, bread crumbs, green beans) but with a welcome summery twist.
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Photo: Edward Pond

By Julie O'Hara

Serves: 6
Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 lb green beans, rinsed, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Scant 1/4 tsp sea salt, divided
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon-pepper salt-free seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk (not skim)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Mist a 2-qt baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans and cover until water returns to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until tender-crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, place a colander in the sink and fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain beans in colander and immediately add to ice water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain. (NOTE: Beans may be cooked up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil on medium-low. Add onion, season with scant 1/16 tsp salt and pepper, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown. Transfer onion to a bowl. Coat skillet with cooking spray and bring to medium heat. Add mushrooms, lemon-pepper seasoning and scant 1/16 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 8 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add remaining 2 tbsp oil to saucepan used to cook beans and heat on medium-low. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Increase heat to high and slowly whisk in milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1/8 tsp salt, coriander, rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, beans and mushrooms. Mix well, adjusting seasoning as desired. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and cover evenly with a layer of onion, followed by a layer of panko.
  5. Bake until liquid is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

TIP: Steps One through Three may be done up to 1 day ahead. Simply cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook. Increase baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutrients per 3/4-cup serving: Calories: 166, Total Fat: 8 g, Sat. Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 g, Carbs: 23 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 8 g, Protein: 7.5 g, Sodium: 266 mg, Cholesterol: 4 mg

Nutritional Bonus: The combination of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium in green beans supports bone health. And surprisingly, green beans actually provide heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, also found in walnuts.

BLANCHING IS BETTER:
Freshly cooked in-season green beans have a wonderful tender-crisp texture that can’t be matched by frozen or canned varieties. And by blanching your beans (plunging the hot, just-cooked beans into an ice bath), you’ll accomplish two key things: It halts carry-over cooking so the beans stay crisp, and it prevents their bright green hue from turning dark and dull.

READER RECIPE TESTER:
Irene Cho
Winfield, Illinois
“What a fresh, clean version of the classic green bean casserole! I have a gluten intolerance, but this recipe was easy to alter – all I did was substitute whole-wheat pastry flour for my gluten-free flour. My husband and I loved the flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes in the casserole.”