As we’re all sitting down to plan our Thanksgiving menus this year, I know lots of them will include some version of green bean casserole. Whether you go the old-school route with canned green beans, condensed cream of mushroom soup and French’s fried onions, or the new-school route with everything freshly made, I’m here to tell you to throw them all out.
I have something even better, with all the same great flavors. Let’s call it the new-new-school version. It doesn’t involve using mushy canned green beans or require the tedious task of cutting and blanching fresh green beans. Who has time for that when we have a million other sides to make? For those who fall victim to nostalgia, don’t worry: This dish still has all the components of the casserole you grew up with, but with an elevated feel.
Instead, the main star of this dish is kale. Not only is it more nutrient-dense, but it’s actually easier to make. The kale is cooked in the same pan as the cream sauce, making it almost a one-pot dish. The second pan is used to make fried shallots, but we’ll get back to that later. I prefer to use kale because the sauce sticks better to kale leaves, getting into each groove so everything comes together in a cohesive, delicious way. I also stir freshly grated parmesan cheese into the sauce to add a strong, nutty flavor.
Lastly, I top it all off with homemade fried shallots. They cook in less than 2 minutes and make such a difference. The canned variety can taste waxy and stale, while a quick homemade version packs a strong onion flavor to balance out the richness from the cream sauce. Don’t be afraid to make extra, as there’s always a sneak lurking around the corner grabbing handfuls of this fried goodness. Any leftover oil can be strained and used throughout the week in other dishes. Use it just like you would olive oil. Just be sure to store the oil in the fridge to keep it from spoiling.
This dish is even better the next day — I’ve been known to spread it like mayo on my Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich. Here’s to new traditions this Thanksgiving that are more delicious and just a tad bit better for you.
Creamed Kale Casserole With Homemade Fried Shallots
8 tablespoons butter, divided
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bunches of kale, stems discarded, leaves chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chicken stock
6 tablespoons flour
3 1/2 cups half-and-half (at room temp)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
1. Add canola oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large, heavy, high-sided skillet, leaving at least an inch of space from the top of the skillet. Heat over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Add shallots and cook until crispy and lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Use slotted spoon to remove to paper-towel-lined plate. Let excess oil drain off and season with salt. Reserve for later.
4. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot at medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
6. Add the kale in batches and toss until wilted.
7. When all of the kale is added to the pan, stir in chicken stock. Cover and let cook until kale is softened and chicken stock has evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.
8. Remove cover; add remaining butter and cook until melted.
9. Sprinkle flour over kale and cook for 2 minutes.
10. Slowly whisk in half-and-half and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
11. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan. Season with salt to taste.
12. Transfer creamed kale to casserole dish, top with crispy fried onions. Serve immediately.
13. Alternatively, this can be made ahead and kept warm in an oven at low heat — just add fried onions right before serving.