Green Bean Casserole & Mashed Potatoes

Although I’m not at all a fan of cold weather (I can never get warm!), there are certain things I like about fall. One of them is Thanksgiving, and all the wonderful food that comes with it. I know, you’re probably wondering what a vegan eats for Thanksgiving. Enter the veganized green bean casserole.

I don’t know why green bean casserole has to be reserved for holidays. Yesterday I couldn’t come up with one good thing to eat all day, but around 11pm I suddenly remembered I had some French fried onions. I knew I *had* to have THAT casserole for dinner!!! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (unless, like me, you also want to bake a few potatoes. Then preheat to 425 and put the washed potatoes in right away).

I used a large can of green beans, I think a 28 ounce. There’s an easier recipe right on the back of the can that uses canned soup, but I didn’t have any vegan cream of mushroom soup around. Making it from scratch is still pretty simple, anyway.

I started by sauteing chopped onion in about 2 Tbsp of Smart Balance margarine.

I didn’t have fresh mushrooms, but I actually like this kind that comes in a jar. Make it as mushroomy as you like – I used about half the jar. Cook until the onion starts to become clear, season with salt and pepper to taste. I also added one minced clove of garlic.

Then add your green beans, drained. Mix them in and let them cook for a minute or two, then taste and add more seasoning if necessary. I added a little onion powder, but that’s optional.

Add 3 Tbsp flour, stir to coat.

Now for the liquid. I reserved some of the liquid from the mushrooms (in my fav mug), leaving enough to cover the mushrooms I left in the jar. Pour it over the green bean mixture. This, too, is optional, but I think it gives it a nice flavor.

For sure you need a milk substitute. I used my old standby, plain unsweetened almond milk. I suppose if you’re in a pinch you could use water – actually, Thanksgiving always falls during the Nativity Fast for we Orthodox Christians. I think generally there is a dispensation from the fast that day, but for those who want to keep it, using water would be a little more Lenten, I guess : ) Anyway, stir in your liquid a little at a time. I kept mine pretty thick, probably a little thicker than the traditional version which calls for one can of soup plus 1/2 cup milk. So, you could add 1 1/2 cups of liquid and probably be okay.

Now for the best part, the French fried onions! I added a handful, then a couple pinches more because I love them so.

Once the onions are stirred in, pour the mixture into a small casserole dish. (If you have potatoes in there baking at 425 you may now turn the heat down, leaving the potatoes in. Don’t worry about waiting for the oven to cool down before putting the casserole in, just keep an eye on it). The original recipe needs 25 minutes to bake, but ours is already hot to begin with. 10 to 15 minutes should do. Then remove it from the oven and sprinkle more French fried onions on top, and bake another few minutes until the onions get crispy and begin to brown.

It should look something like this. Not sure why the onions are ridged like potato chips, but actually, I bet potato chips would be good in this, too.

I decided to make mashed potatoes. I added almond milk, margarine, salt, pepper & garlic.

I cannot tell you how satisfying this was. I guess this is a good life lesson…I could’ve eaten any old thing and been full, but unsatisfied and probably disappointed and unhappy. But my patience paid off, and in the 11th hour my happiness was fulfilled. Good food comes to those who wait, unless you’re at a bad restaurant with poor service.

That’s why it’s better to eat at home. I think I’ll continue on this theme leading up to the holiday in case anyone needs ideas. For example, it would’ve been awfully nice to have dressing and gravy with this meal. And I still need to perfect my pumpkin pie recipe. I don’t usually do a fake meat, but maybe I can come up with something.

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