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Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onions


One of my favorite dishes to bring during the Holidays is this Green Bean Casserole. This recipe has nothing to do with cream of mushroom soup or French’s French Fried Onions. The original recipe I discovered a few years ago in Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

It’s not complicated, but it is a process. If you are doing the entertaining, I definitely recommend making this the day before. The original recipe called for fried shallots on top, but I am a huge fan of caramelized onions, so I made that one small adjustment. I start caramelizing the onions at the same time I begin the casserole. The onions take a while and require a stir now and then, so its easy to manage both at the same time, and they’re ready when you need them. You can find directions for caramelizing onions here.

INGREDIENTS

8 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more for dish (2 reserved for caramelizing onions)
2 Medium Onions. 1 cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 6 ounces) the second sliced very thin for topping
1 Red Bell Pepper, ribs and seeds removed, flesh cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 pound Button Mushrooms, sliced or quartered
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (I used Lactaid skim milk, and it works just fine)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Remove from heat. Let cool completely.

2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans; cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice-water bath to stop cooking. Drain beans, and dry. Toss with mushroom mixture, set aside.

3. Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup flour; whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk; continue whisking until mixture thickens, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and remaining tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Remove from heat; let cool completely, stirring occasionally. Pour over bean mixture, and toss.

4. Butter or spray a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Spread half the bean mixture into dish. Sprinkle with half of the Parmesan (I tend to use a little less than 1 cup. Seems like a lot of Parm to me so use your own judgment here.) and then top with the remaining bean mixture. Combine remaining Parmesan with Bread Crumbs and sprinkle on top of casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 1 day); bring to room temperature before heating.

5. The original recipe says to place the casserole under the broiler until hot and bubbling (about 10 minutes). I have not found this very effective. Instead, I bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil at the very end to brown the top under the broiler. Cover with caramelized onions and keep warm until ready to serve.