Continuing with my make-ahead Thanksgiving theme this week, I wanted to share with you a make-ahead green bean casserole made only with the freshest ingredients and that can be made ahead and tucked in you freezer for the big day.
Walmart challenged me to share my meal preparation strategies for getting my Thanksgiving dinner on the table and my strategy this year, and all the years in the past, is to get as much done early as possible so that I can truly enjoy the day with my family. I am taking you along on my make-ahead Thanksgiving meal preparation journey by providing some really great dishes that you can make early so you also can enjoy that special day with your family.
Have you been following along in our make-ahead series? If not, here are the recipes I have created so far!
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dish Ideas:
Brandied & Orange Cranberry Sauce
Fancied-Up Store-Bought Pies (make the whipped cream & fun pie additions a couple of days before your feast)
This week I will be sharing my final dishes: a Make-Ahead Gravy & a Make-Ahead Apple, Sausage, & Sage Sourdough Stuffing, and Make-Ahead Buttery Bread Machine Rolls so please come back so you don’t miss those fun dishes!
Green Bean Casserole is one of those dishes that our family absolutely loves, but this year I wanted to create a dish that didn’t rely on canned food ingredients and instead relied only upon fresh ingredients.
Fresh green beans and mushrooms are tossed in the the world’s most delicious cream sauce and then topped with a crunchy topping of fried onions, that we all know and love, along with a healthy dash of panko (found in the Asian foods section of Walmart) to create the ultimate crunchy topping.
To prep this dish ahead, I purchased some inexpensive foil pans and poured my casserole into it. On the lid, I jotted down the instructions for the big day. The panko & onion topping was poured into a baggie and placed in my pantry so it doesn’t get soggy in the freezer.
The difference between the canned casserole versus the fresh casserole is amazingly different. The green beans are crispy, the cream sauce and mushrooms remind me of a rich and creamy mushroom soup, and the panko adds a crispy crunch to the dish that helps to round out the flavors. Although this dish is far more time consuming than a canned casserole, one bite will have you (and your guests) convinced that this is a dish worth repeating every year!
Make-Ahead Green Bean Casserole
Author: Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Recipe type: Casserole
- ½ cup panko
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 oz.)
- 2 lbs green beans, ends trimmed and halved
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lb sliced white button mushrooms
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- In a small bowl, mix together panko and fried onions with two tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. of water to boil. Add two tablespoons of salt and the green beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, approximately 6 minutes.
- Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Set aside.
- Add butter to your now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoons salt, and ⅛ teaspoons pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.
- Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3 quart (or 13 x 9″) baking dish.
- Store your onion & panko topping in a baggie in your pantry. Freeze in a freezer-safe container or in a foil pan. Allow the casserole to thaw 1-3 days before your event.
- Heat the casserole in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then add the topping and bake for 1-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling on the edges.
Do you have any Thanksgiving meal planning strategies to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!