Yes, I do realize that it’s not actually Thanksgiving yet. So why the heck am I making a green bean casserole when summer has barely ended? Because my body was craving it. Plus, there were some fresh green beans and stale bread that needed to be taken care of from the weekend.
My fondest memories of Thanksgiving are from high school, when I would visit my best friend’s house in the morning to string bags and bags of green beans for their green bean casserole. The truth is, when I was growing up, my family never enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. There might be a turkey once every few years and the occasional appearance of mashed potatoes. But there was no green bean casserole, no pumpkin pie, no sweet potato pie, no stuffing, and no going around the table telling everyone what we were thankful for. Instead, we just ate a ton of seafood and Chinese BBQ.
So when my friend invited me over to her house to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving, I jumped at the opportunity, even if it meant stringing green beans for hours. There was always the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background to keep me entertained.
For all of you green bean casserole aficionados out there (I’m certainly not one of them), you may notice a few things that are different about my version:
- It’s vegan.
- It’s topped with breadcrumbs and not fried onions.
- There’s red peppers in it instead of the classic cream of mushroom sauce.
- There’s thyme.
I swear, this flavor combination works! Of course, I had to include a bit of onion in the toppings, so I used onion flakes instead of the usual fried onions. As for the breadcrumbs, I didn’t bother to grind them too finely. I like picking out small, crunchy chunks of seasoned bread!
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
- 1 lb (455g) green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
- 2-3 slices of whole grain bread, makes about 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
- 1 1/2 TBS onion flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 large red pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 3 TBS all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup (80ml) light coconut milk
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
- Fill a small pot with water (about 2 inches) and bring it to boil. Pour in the green beans and let it cook for 3 minutes. If you are using the skinny French green beans (haricot verts), cook them for 2 minutes. Drain the beans and put them in a bowl of ice-cold water. This will stop them from cooking more and preserve their crispness.
- Toast the bread lightly. When they are cool enough to handle, chop them into smaller pieces. Pulse the toast in a food processor until they get smaller. It’s ok if you have a few large chunks in there. Pour the processed toast into a small bowl. Stir in the oil, onion flakes, parsley, and salt. Set aside.
- Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add oil and the onions, and let the onions brown. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and add the garlic and red pepper. Let everything cook for about a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Add the flour, and make sure to coat the vegetables with the flour.
- Pour the vegetable broth into the skillet in about 4 batches. Wait for the liquids to thicken before adding the next batch. Mix in the coconut milk, thyme, salt, and pepper. When the sauce bubbles, turn off the heat.
- Place the green beans into the skillet, and coat the beans with the sauce. Top the green beans with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake the casserole for 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
- The casserole is best when served immediately! Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.
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