July 1st, 2012

Ray’s Beans, June 2012 edition

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His knock at the door caught me by surprise–and yet it shouldn’t have.

“Here they are,” neighbor Ray proffered a rumpled brown bag and shrugged. “I’m a little behind this year. I was so concerned with getting my tomatoes in early, these got planted later than usual.”

Ray’s famous green beans. My yearly allotment! It’s become a June tradition, the gift of these young and slender haricots verts, just picked from his backyard garden. They are special. Each year, I strive to prepare them in a way that both honors their nature, and the modest, generous gardener who grew them.

You may remember them folded with creamy new potatoes here or in that lush salad with bacon, corn, and buttermilk here.

Of course, they are sweet and delicious on their own, gently steamed and buttered.

So, how to do the beans justice this time?

No doubt many of you recall the green bean casserole from the way-back machine that has shown up on the tables of umpteen potlucks, church suppers, family Thanksgiving dinners. It’s the one made from many canned items: french-cut green beans, cream of mushroom soup, crispy fried onion bits. (We used to call this a “dump-and-go” casserole.)

The idea is good, certainly easy to prepare, although it results in a mushy, rather sodium laden dish.

What if it were remade, in a fresh, and more deconstructed style?

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That was my notion, to update the old green bean casserole.

I’d cook the green beans quickly–blanche ’em in boiling water seasoned with salt and a few slivers of garlic. I’d oven roast sliced onions to a crisp. Rather than smother the beans in a thick sauce, I’d layer them–show off those pretty pods!

It all hinges on making a mushroom veloute–

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—using meaty shiitake mushrooms.

There’s no dairy in this dish. I know; it sure looks like there is. The rich flavor of the shiitakes is further deepened with mushroom broth, which becomes a creamy sauce when cooked in a bit of flour. If you want to be extra-fancy, you can enhance the sauce with a splash of sherry or marsala wine. But, staying true to the standard–but renewed—casserole, it’s not necessary.

Enough said–I’m a bit behind myself, in posting!

Delectable, eye-appealing:
Presenting Ray’s Green Beans, June 2012 edition

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UPDATED GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

THE BEANS
2 lbs. fresh young Green Beans
1 clove Garlic, sliced
1/4 t. Sea Salt

Place beans into a pot of simmering water that has been seasoned with salt and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Test a bean–it should be “tender-crisp.” Plunge into icy water, to stop the cooking process, and set the bright green color.

MUSHROOM VELOUTE
2 T. Butter (or use olive oil, if preparing vegan)
8 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 bundle Scallions, white and green parts chopped
Salt and Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 c. Mushroom Broth
a few fresh Thyme leaves

Saute mushrooms and scallions in butter. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme, if desired. When the vegetables are softened (after 5 minutes or so) stir in the flour. Allow the flour to coat the mushrooms and scallions, and cook. Keep stirring, scraping up the browned bits.

When you can no longer see any traces of white flour, pour in the broth. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes creamy. Taste for seasonings, and adjust if needed.

CRISPY ONIONS
1 small Onion, thinly sliced
Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Lightly coat onion slices in olive oil. Lay out on a baking sheet pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in a hot (400 degree) oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Remove and allow to cool.

ASSEMBLY
Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with warm mushroom veloute. Place a layer of blanched green beans. Spoon more sauce over the beans and repeat layers. Finish the top with oven-crisp onions.

Bake until thoroughly heated in a 325 degree oven (about 15 minutes) and serve.

This can be made up ahead of time, refrigerated and then baked for about 30 minutes.

Serves 8-10

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Posted in Recipes, Sauces, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

24 Responses to “Ray’s Beans, June 2012 edition”
  1. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Such a special dish this is Nancy! Justice achieved with this deconstructed bean casserole. I like that main components of this dish is made distinct, and each could be celebrated on its own instead of being lost in the pot.

  2. Beth Says:

    I love fresh green beans, and that’s a great way to serve them. I’ll be checking out your other green bean suggestions too!

  3. Nicole Says:

    You are so lucky to have a neighbor like Ray! Those beans look amazing, as do the dishes from previous years. The salad with corn, bacon and buttermilk is calling my name. Yum. Fresh crispy onions – you’ve done a great job updating this dish!

  4. Eileen Says:

    Ooh, that mushroom sauce sounds perfect with green beans! And how lucky are you, with fresh beans delivered right to your door. :)

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    It’s true. I am lucky to have Ray as a neighbor, and privileged to have him bring his exceptional beans to my door.

  6. Barbara Says:

    I sure wish Ray lived in MY neighborhood!
    You’ve taken an old retro recipe and brought it right up to date. Fresh and flavorful, nancy.

  7. ernestine lawson Says:

    Oh my
    I have a bag of fresh green beans waiting for me to pick up in
    the morning.
    Going to cook for the 4th when youngest daughter and
    her family visit.
    Now you have given me a new way to prepare them.
    What a mouth watering image….

  8. Kath Says:

    Is it a year already since Ray’s beans? Blimey, where does the time go?

  9. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    That old ubiquitous casserole never appealed to me except for those crispy bits. But now you have made a fresh and tasty-looking riff on what’s destined to become a classic.

  10. Faith Says:

    Wish I lived next door to Ray. ;) I love what you did with your beans this year…I am bookmarking this one for Thanksgiving!

  11. Barbara Says:

    This looks wonderful Nance. We are trying our best to keep our garden alive-our green beans seem to be o.k. so far. If we are lucky with them, I would love to try this recipe.

  12. rhonda Says:

    simply beautiful! thank you.

  13. fluffy Says:

    Sting Ray’ Beans are best!

    hooray

    summer is here

  14. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    This looks so good, Nancy. I love green beans. In Greece we usually prepare them very simply with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and potatoes and of course lots and lots of olive oil.
    Your dish is something I would try in an instant! The mushroom veloute stole my heart!

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you Magda! Your Greek version sounds divine–a great idea, the next time I make something special with Ray’s Beans

  16. Nancy Says:

    Such a sweet neighborly tradition :) I think you’ve made Ray extra-proud this year – the casserole looks fantastic. Love that creamy shiitake veloute!

  17. Teresa, foodonfifth.com Says:

    Isn’t is nice to have things you can count on in this life? Like the seasons, great books, old friends and Ray’s beans. This is my favorite recipe so far. You now have a trio all beautiful, tasty and dependable. Just like that knock on the door every summer.

  18. Tammy Says:

    Great story Nancy and I’m excited about the veloute. Looks like it has many uses!

  19. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    What a remake. Nice work. This is a green bean casserole I can see myself eating, soon. I just wish I had some of Ray’s beans.

  20. kelli Says:

    the beans are back! I’ve been waiting for this post!

  21. goodfoodmatters Says:

    I know, Kelli—this one is long overdue! Enjoy.

  22. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, this bean dish looks delicious, like the shiitake mushroom sauce…so tasty!
    Thanks for the recipe and have a wonderful weekend :)

  23. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    these beans look to die for! Just delicious and fresh and flavorful! Love Love getting a post from you! Always enjoy your recipes and this is indeed yummy! hope you are doing well

  24. shuhan Says:

    the crispy shallots are the best, it’s my must-have staple in the kitchen, to add the final finishing flourish to not just veggie dishes, but noodles, or soups!



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