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Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onions

30 Aug

This casserole contains all of the richness of a traditional green bean casserole with a good deal less of the fat, calories, preservatives, and additives.  Though there is a fair amount of fat and cholesterol from the cheese, I lightened it up by omitting any cream (or cream-based soups) and instead making use of 1% milk, cutting way down on the butter you might find in a traditional casserole, and setting aside the fried onions in favor of more flavorful caramelized onions.  Consequently, this had all of the flavors and textures that I love about a green casserole with a lot less of the guilt.  I substituted tomatoes for mushrooms in this casserole to add a layer of bright, summery flavor as a foil to the richness of the cheese and sweetness of the caramelized onions.  The homemade tomato bread crumbs added a lovely crunch that contrasted with the soft tomatoes and creamy sauce.  I also refrained from cooking the green beans into oblivion, leaving a nice bit of crunch.  If you like them soft, increase the blanching time accordingly.

Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onions

1 medium onion, sliced 1/8″ thick

1 tbs. olive oil

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 – 1 1/2″ pieces

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 tbs. unsalted butter

1 tbs. all natural, whole wheat flour

1/2 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup farmer’s cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Gouda cheese, shredded

1/2 cup homemade tomato bread crumbs

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375º.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add onions and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Sauté 30-45 minutes until onions are golden brown.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add trimmed green beans and cook 4 minutes.  Drain and transfer immediately to an ice bath to stop cooking and maintain color and crisp.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  While whisking, add flour.  Cook about a minute, continuously whisking, until a smooth, light golden brown paste forms.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking continuously, until thickened and milk is heated through, about a minute.  Remove from heat and whisk in plain Greek yogurt, and cheese.  Stir continuously until cheese is melted.

Spray a small casserole dish with with non-stick cooking spray (I used a 3″ wide x 9″ long x 3″ deep casserole).  Add green beans, garlic, tomatoes, and cheese/yogurt mixture to the pan.  Using a pair of tongs, toss thoroughly to combine.  Top the casserole in an even layer with the caramelized onions.  Top with bread crumbs and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Transfer cast iron pan to oven and bake, uncovered, 20-30 minutes.  Let stand 8-10 minutes until cream sauce sets.

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