img_4555As much as we look forward to that glistening, golden turkey every Thanksgiving, I’m sure we can all admit that the real stars of the big show are those side dishes. I’m almost certain that 80% of my calorie intake that day comes from side dishes. Year after year, its those pesky sides that make me want to moo under the covers for the next 3 days. (Contrary to popular belief, turkey is actually not at fault for feeling sleepy after Turkey Day. There is more tryptophan in cheddar cheese than in your Thanksgiving bird.) And yet, we can never pass up those delicious sides, no matter how full they make us feel.

The good news is that you can essentially have your cake and eat it too! If you pay a little more attention to the ingredients that go into those side dishes and alter them slightly with healthy alternatives, you can present similar family favorites with a little less guilt. For example: green bean casserole. A close second to my favorite stuffing, green bean casserole has graced almost every one of my Thanksgiving tables for as long as I can remember. It is also one of the main contributors to that glutinous guilt I feel every year. So I made it a goal of mine to create an updated, healthier version with just as much flavor and a little less fat. And I have to say, this recipe is a pretty tasty alternative…. You might even say it’s better than the original. But wait, there’s more! Not only is this a one-pot dish but you can separately par-cook the ingredients earlier in the day and then warm it just minutes before dinner begins. One less T-Day recipe to stress about! At this rate you’ll be able to enjoy those appetizers while watching The Kennel Club Dog Show right along with your guests!

img_4550“Green Bean Casserole”

Yields 5 portions
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 oz wild mushrooms (I used oyster), trimmed if needed but leave whole
  • 1 lb French green beans
  • ½ red onion, thinly julienned
  • 3 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. neutral oil (avocado, vegetable, or canola)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. asiago or parmesan cheese, shaved
In a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp oil. When the oil is shimmering, add in the julienned onions. Spread the onions in an even layer and cook, without stirring, for 30 seconds. The goal here is to create a crispy, “fried” texture instead of a soft consistency. The less you stir the onions, there more the sugars in the onions will caramelize and get crispy. When the onions are crisp, place in a separate bowl and set aside until serving.
In the same sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tbsp oil. When it’s shimmering, add the crimini mushrooms, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked (about 5 minutes. They will be soft on the inside with slight browning on the outside). When the criminis are almost fully cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the wild mushrooms. If you’re using a delicate mushroom like the oysters that I did, you don’t want to cook them too long or they will turn limp and lose their beautiful shape. Set the mushrooms aside in a separate bowl until later.


When Thanksgiving dinner is 5 minutes from being served, add 2 tbsp oil to that same pan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, sauté the garlic for 1 minute. When the garlic is soft, stir in the green beans. Sauté until al dente (5 minutes). At about the 1-2 minute mark, stir in 2 tbsp of water to “pan steam” the beans. This will help breakdown the fibers in the beans and cook them properly without burning them or drying them out. When the beans are al dente, stir in the mushrooms, onions, pepper and more salt to taste, and the sherry vinegar. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes. And don’t forget that generous finishing touch of shaved cheese on top!


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