During the fall semester, I uncovered an interesting book from my local library. It's called "Vegetarian SlowCooker." And in it were a great number of magical recipes to use in that kitchen appliance that I, of late, have little to no use for. Needless to say, some of them looked so yummy, it prompted me to plop one of the black friday sale price 20 dollar slow cookers into my mother's Kohl's stroller-cart and say, "I want this for Christmas!"
Then, as is wont to happen in stories of this nature, I took my new kitchen appliance home, stuck it happily into an empty cupboard, and forgot about it. When the book came up for renewal for the fifth time, I copied those recipes I'd been eyeing onto 3x5 index cards, stuck them into my recipe card organizer, and returned the book.
This would have been the end of it had I not gone through my recipes two days before my birthday, struggling to find something tasty and adventurous to make for my year-over-a-quarter-of-a-century birthday. I opted, as some might recall, on a Cook's encyclopedia recipe for souffle, but among my forgotten trove of recipes, my eye caught a black bean chili, a soup with kale, slow cooker veggie pot pie, and the most exciting of all... green bean casserole!
I know what you're thinking... "That's it? That's the thing she was so excited to make?" But green bean casserole is one of my favorites. It's comfort food. It's homey and inviting. It was one of the first things I ever learned to make. And I never screwed it up. One can campbell's cream of mushroom to two cans french-cut green beans in a casserole dish and then heated in the microwave for 7 minutes and TA DA! a scrumptious meal. And it sure beat my first attempt at tuna and noodles, when, after many boxed pasta roni meals, it didn't occur to me that I might need to drain the noodles and it didn't occur to my mom, when she gave me the instructions for making it, that anyone would not know that noodles need to be drained. What resulted looked more like soup than casserole but green beans, they have never led me astray.
I've come a long way since then, but I still love my green bean casserole. And I was immediate anxious to give this recipe a go (not to mention break in that forgotten slow cooker), a green bean casserole that uses a white bean and mushroom sauce in place of the standard can of cream of mushroom.
Green Bean and White Bean Casserole
(from Vegetarian Slow Cooker)
What you need:
1 T olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 c. chopped white mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15.5 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (These puppies were not easy to come by but I finally found some Goya brand ones. Post-cooking thought: Great Northern Beans would work just as well... many even navy beans)
1 c water
salt and pepper (be generous with the salt)
1 1/2 lbs green beans, cut into one-in pieces (I translated this into 2 cans of no-sodium french cut green beans, drained)
1/2 c sliced almonds, toasted in skillet to light golden
1. Heat oil in large skillet over med-heat, add onion, cover, and cook to soft, 5 min. Transfer onion to blender. In skillet, add mushroom and garlic. stir to soft over med-high heat, 3 minutes. The stirring is very important, and if you get bored, use a long wooden spoon with which to bang about to skillet as you stir, creating a tune akin in sound to a steel drum player. Entertainment. Set aside mushrooms.)
2. Add white beans and water to blender, season with salt and pepper, and process to smooth. I used the "cream" button. It seemed very cream of mushroom soup to use the "cream" button. The blender will whir and spin and in seconds, sauce, liquid-y and looking very much like the tahini sauce I made on Monday for falafel. But I digress.
3. Place green beans and mushrooms in 4 QT (bigger is fine, just not smaller) slow cooker and pour white bean sauce over them. Cover and cook on Low 4-6 hours.
4. When ready to serve, sprinkle beans with almonds.
It was a surprisingly quick-prep and easy to follow, but a little bland (hence liberal salt and pepper). I think next time, I would cook up twice the number of mushrooms and puree half of them with the white beans, for a bit more flavor. I'm also going to think for a while on what seasonings would mix well with the beans. Suggestions would be appreciated. It was something I'd make again but with a few alterations, my own bit of flare. The almonds, I'd say, are a must, however. They add a nice nutty flavor to add a bit of pep to the blandness, along with a bit of crunch to the mush that is green bean casserole.
Note: Despite my recent addition of pictures to accompany blog posts, this one is lacking a picture. This is not due to technical malfunction, but merely a realization on the blogger's part that there is no way to attractively photograph green bean casserole. Just picture any green bean casserole and top it with sliced almonds in your mind's eye. Now, put it in a slow cooker. That's about it.