Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Christmas is just around the corner. That means a lot of decorating, favorite activities, presents, and holiday dishes - in other words, holiday traditions. I love most holiday traditions until I don’t. Sometimes even my favorite Thanksgiving dishes need a “re-do”!

A few years ago, I made the standard green bean casserole - you know the one with the recipe on the back of the soup can - and it was horrible. I blame the frozen green beans, but it got me thinking that I needed to jazz up this holiday tradition. During my musings on ways to improve this dish, I found today’s recipe. It was a hit and has now become our new family tradition.

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For me, the key to this recipe is that all the ingredients, except the fried onion topping, are fresh! The green beans aren’t frozen or canned, and the sauce is made with fresh mushrooms, cream, butter, garlic and cheese. Even the fried onions can be done from scratch but who has the time at Thanksgiving? You can revive some of the flavor by a quick bake in the hot oven if you like.

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Thanksgiving Day is always hectic, so as a time saver blanch the green beans a day ahead. This will save you considerable time when you are frantically running around the kitchen wrapping up the big meal – all while your hungry guests are stealing bites of turkey and eating all the rolls!

Just remember that it’s not all about the food. It’s about spending time with family and friends and giving thanks for the people and things you have in your life. Live, Laugh, Love and Give Thanks.

BA’s Best Green Bean Casserole

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Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP olive oil divided
  • 1 pound cremini (or baby bella) mushrooms, sliced, divided
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 Large sprigs thyme, fresh
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely grated (or substitute 3 TBSP minced garlic)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup French-fried Onions (store bought)

Working in small batches, blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling water for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from boiling water with slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet to let cool. Repeat until all the beans have been processed. NOTE: If you use an ice bath to quench the beans, you may want to increase initial baking time by 10 to 15 minutes as beans may be a little undercooked. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 TBSP oil to the skillet. Cook half of the mushrooms without stirring until they are brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 3 more minutes. Add 2 TBSP butter to the pan with 2 sprigs of the thyme. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally until butter browns and the mushrooms are dark brown and very tender, about 4 more minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil, mushrooms, butter, thyme, and salt. Set aside.

In the large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 TBSP of butter over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until the roux is golden brown and smells mildly nutty, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer, whisking often until the béchamel sauce is thick and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the garlic, Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Arrange the green beans and mushrooms in a 2-quart baking dish. Pour sauce over the vegetables (it doesn’t look like enough, but it is). Cover tightly with foil and bake until sauce is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until casserole is lightly browned around the edges, 15 to 20 more minutes. Top with the onions and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions start to brown and become fragrant. Let casserole sit for about 10 minutes before serving.