Green bean casserole was one of my most favorite memories from Thanksgiving. Mom would crank the top off Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, mix it with canned green beans and top it with a whole tin of french-fried onions. It was dirty. And perfect.
Times have slightly changed, but green bean casserole still holds a special place in my heart. I will be honest, although this version includes cream and a biscuit top, and does its part to reduce the continuous heap of green beans coming in from the garden, I will always pine for my childhood version. But this one does contain some serious pull. So without trying to compete with childhood loyalties, I give you:
Fresh Green Bean Casserole with Buttermilk Biscuit Top:
*8 cups loosely packed fresh green beans, tops removed and chopped into quarters
*2 cups quality whole milk
*1 cup fresh cream
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter
*3 heaping tablespoons AP flour
*1 small sweet onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*fresh ground black pepper
Buttermilk Biscuit Top:
*2 cups quality AP flour
*1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
*1 cup buttermilk
Place a large pot filled 3/4 with salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add prepared green beans. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until beans are tender but still bright green. Strain.
Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add flour and mix into a roux with a wooden spoon. Brown roux stirring often then add the onion and garlic. Stir. Once aromatic, add milk and cream. Whisk. Bring to a simmer whisking constantly. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Allow liquid to reduce by a third, and thicken before adding the strained green beans. Stir. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Set aside.
Make biscuit topping by mixing the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Cut in the butter and blend with fingertips into the flour until it resembles a course meal. Mix in the buttermilk with a fork until completely incorporated. Do not over mix.
Gently flatten about 3 Tablespoons of dough into pieces and place over green bean mixture to create a top with small gaps between dough pieces.
Bake until cream sauce bubbles and biscuit top is golden, about 20-25 minutes.
This is not a way to sneak zucchini into your meal. In fact, a stack of these will go fast, even among kids. My friend Joy introduced me to this idea and it has been a mainstay since.
If you are scratching you head trying to figure out how to utilize all the summer squash in your garden, look no further. The recipe is loose, so play around. I have made these with shredded cheddar and jack cheeses (whatever is on hand), and often make a tzatziki sauce to serve alongside.
Zucchini Feta Cakes:
*3 medium summer squash, whole, ends removed
*1 cup crumbled feta
*1 small sweet onion, skin removed
*2-3 fresh eggs
*high quality AP flour
Shred zucchini into a large mixing bowl. Lightly sprinkle with salt and stir. Allow to sit for 10 minutes then transfer to a mesh sieve. Gently press shredded zucchini into sieve to strain excess water. Return to mixing bowl. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Shred about 1/4 cup of the onion into mixture. Stir. Mix eggs into mixture with a fork, followed by the feta. Then add enough flour to create a batter, slightly thicker than pancake batter.
Line a cooling rack with paper towels.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Spoon mixture into hot skillet to create small cakes (about 3 tablespoons of batter for each cake). Loosely shape and flatten slightly with a fork. Brown each cake golden, flipping halfway through.
Transfer to cooling rack and repeat with remaining batter, oiling skillet as needed between batches.