This fresh, vibrant & dairy free take on green bean casserole from is rich & creamy, topped off with the crispiest (and easiest) fried shallots ever.
For the green bean casserole:
For the crispy shallots:
SOFTEN: Put the cauliflower, onion, garlic, sea salt and broth of choice into a saucepan. Cover with the lid and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat until the broth is simmering but there isn’t lots of steam trying to find its way out of the pan. Cook until the cauliflower is fork tender, about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.
BLANCH: Trim the green bean ends. While the cauliflower is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the top & tailed green beans to the water. Reduce the heat so that the beans simmer evenly and become a bright green color, about 5 minutes. You don’t want the beans to be completely cooked through at this point, they should still have some bite and firmness to them. Drain the blanched green beans into a colander and cool under running water so that they stop cooking. Lay them out to dry on a cloth while you make the sauce.
BLEND: Transfer the cooking liquid, cauliflower, onion and garlic to a high powered blender. Wipe out the saucepan and save it for later. Carefully, allowing the steam to escape through the top of the pitcher, blend until you have a smooth, lump-free puree. Add the coconut milk, nutritional yeast, thyme, garlic and black pepper to the blender, then blend until you have a smooth, soup like consistency.
THICKEN: Whisk the cassava flour up with a fork in a little bowl, adding just enough water to make a slurry that combines smoothly. Pour the slurry into the blender and blend for a few seconds to combine. Reserve the sauce in the blender once thickened.
COOK: Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Slice the mushrooms, then roughly chop them so that you have not-too-big pieces that will be flecked throughout the sauce – no chunks! Coat the saucepan you saved from cooking the cauliflower earlier with the avocado oil over low-medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they have released their moisture and reduced in size by about half, about 15 minutes. Don’t brown them – this step is to dry them out a little so that they don’t dilute the sauce when it’s cooking in the oven later. Remove the mushrooms from the heat.
MIX: Pour the sauce into a mixing bowl, as well as the cooked mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms through the sauce. Add the green beans and fold them through the sauce with a spatula until they are evenly coated and creamy. (You’ll be tempted to mix this in the casserole dish: don’t. Trust me.)
BAKE: Pour the creamy green bean mixture into a 2 1/4 quart baking dish or similar size, leaving a little room at the top for bubbling space. Smooth the top and bake, uncovered, for 40 – 45 minutes, until the green beans are tender and the sauce has browned slightly and bubbles at the edges.
PREP: While the green bean casserole is baking, make the crispy fried shallots. Peel the shallots and use a mandoline to slice them evenly thin, about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick. Use your hands to break up the slices into little rings. Place a bowl large enough to fit all of the hot cooking oil to the side of the stove top, with a strainer on top of it. Line a bowl or plate with about six layers or so of paper towels.
FRY: Add the shallots to a high sided saucepan and cover them with the avocado oil. Over high heat, cook the shallots, stirring often, until the oil begins to bubble and foam from the water the shallots release. Stir often and watch as the oil begins to stop foaming and recede back into the saucepan: this is when the shallots will start to brown very, very quickly, so watch carefully! When the shallots begin to turn a light golden brown, carefully pour them into the strainer so that the oil is caught by the bowl. You want to remove the shallots from the oil before they look like they’re done, because they will continue to cook after they’re strained, due to the residual heat of the oil.
CRISP: Pour the strained shallots onto the paper towels and shake gently. Carefully remove the first paper towel from beneath them and, when each paper towel looks oily, repeat and discard. Once the shallots are dry and oil free, let them cool on the plate.
SERVE: Just before serving the green bean casserole, top with the crispy shallots. They will soften as they sit on top of the hot casserole, so you can also pop them on the table in a bowl and let people help themselves, if you like. I also topped with a little crisped bacon, but it’s totally not necessary.
MAKE AHEAD: You can blanch and chill the green beans overnight. The green bean casserole sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance, along with the sauteed mushrooms. You can stir the shrooms into the sauce then, but be aware that they’ll turn the sauce more of a beige color if you leave them sitting together like that. The crispy shallots can be made, cooled and kept in an airtight container for weeks. You can make the whole casserole, assemble it and then cover & refrigerate it at least overnight, then bake it per the directions above, adding a little extra cook time for it to heat through.