Gluten-Free Thanksgiving: How to Make Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole
November 21, 2011
A few years ago, when one of my readers asked me to create a gluten-free version of Campbell's green bean casserole, I was excited. Until then, I had never eaten the classic Thanksgiving side. After perfecting the recipe, a funny thing happened: several of my friends revealed themselves to be secret green bean casserole lovers. Now I make this for Thanksgiving every year. Another huge part of the tradition is munching on the freshly fried onion strips.
Canning the Cans
The canned soup had to go, of course, because it isn't gluten-free. It's replaced with an easy-to-make white sauce and chopped mushrooms. During recipe development I wanted to stay true to the original and not tinker with the flavors too much. Since cream of mushroom soup isn't aggressively mushroom flavored, I used white button mushrooms in the sauce. They do a great job of letting you know they're there but not shouting at your tastebuds. (If you'd like to use a more flavorful mushroom, go for it. This dish welcomes interpretation.)
The last canned good to go was the canned french fried onions. (Which I noticed this year are no longer in a can but rather in a plastic tub.) This is my favorite part of the casserole (anyone else?). I usually double (cough, triple it, cough) because I we eat so many before topping the casserole.
To make Thanksgiving prep a little easier, you can make the casserole the night before. (Don't top it with the fried onions the night before or they'll get soggy.) About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, heat the casserole in the oven and then top with the freshly fried onions.
What's green bean casserole without fried onions??? Unlike making batter-dipped onion rings (the kind you'd find on bar menus or frozen), these fried onions are thin strips. To do this, cut your onion in half and then cut each half into strips. Using your fingers, "break" apart the onion slices.
After dusting the onion strips with the flour mixture, drop them into hot oil. You'll need to divide the onions into batches. If you fry too many onions at one time, the temperature of the oil will drop, making for greasy onion strips. Usually four to five batches of onion strips are best. As you can see, I don't use a deep fryer. I cast iron skillet is perfect for this job.
The finished onion pieces should be golden brown and crisp. (I am so glad you can't hear the sound of my nibbling on the other side of the screen. These babies are addictive!)
For the mushroom sauce, chop the mushrooms into small, bite-size pieces. These pieces don't need to be perfect--at all! As you'll see, the mushrooms get very small and soft.
More onions (and garlic too)! Begin the white sauce by sweating onions and garlic together until soft. Once the onions are soft and aromatic, add the mushrooms.
Cook until soft.
Add the milk and bring to a boil. This is important. Cornstarch needs to come to a boil to fully thicken. If you don't boil the milk, your casserole will be thin.
Add the green beans and spoon the entire mixture into a casserole dish.
Top with fried onions and cheese. (I snapped this picture before I added the final addition of cheese. Sorry!)
Bake and you're done!