My family has never embraced the tradition of eating that infamous green bean and mushroom soup casserole that is so popular on Thanksgiving. Mushrooms are a no-no for most of them and I vowed that canned soup, in any shape or form, would never cross my lips again. Ever. So this year I took it upon myself to start a new tradition and build a green bean casserole from scratch with flavors that everyone would love.
This starts with fresh green beans and a basic béchamel sauce made with a roux of butter and flour. The béchamel is seasoned with onion, garlic, red pepper and thyme. Italian favorites. Mozzarella cheese gives it an ooey-gooey creaminess and buttery Ritz crackers mixed with Parmesan cheese makes for the best golden brown, crispy crust. It was completely delicious and one of the highlights of my dinner, aside from my Mom’s stuffing. The stuff(ing) dreams are made of. . . but that is another story.
This is a tradition I can open my arms wide for! Any day of the year.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 casserole pan. Gently steam the green beans just until tender but still firm. Arrange in pan.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisk in milk, bring to a simmer, stir in red peppers and cheese. Turn off heat and stir until cheese is melted. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Taste and re-season if desired.
- Pour the sauce over top of the green beans. Crush the crackers into crumbs and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, combine along with Parmesan and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly all over and golden on top.