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.