A Fresher Green Bean Casserole

A historic Florida inn skips the canned soup in their interpretation of a holiday classic

Photo: Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Creamy green bean casserole topped with crispy fried onions has been a decadent staple on Thanksgiving spreads for generations. But if you’re looking for a lighter, fresher adaptation of the dish, chef Erik Osol of the oceanfront Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in northeastern Florida shares a recipe that’s a lot like the 1928-built resort: updated yet still classic. Osol’s version features a roasted onion sauce, fresh green beans, and a medley of mushrooms, finished with an optional panko bread crumb topping. Much of the recipe is dairy- and gluten-free as well as vegan, but for a more traditional take, “you can always add cream or butter,” he adds.

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  • Green Bean Casserole (Yield: 4–8 servings)

  • For the filling

    • 2 lb. green beans, cut into 1–2 inch pieces

    • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

    • 1 tsp. black pepper, ground but not fine-ground

    • 1½ lb. crimini, portobello, or button mushrooms, or any combination thereof

    • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    • ½ tsp. salt

  • For the onion sauce

    • 4 Spanish or Vidalia onions, sliced

    • 12 cloves garlic, minced

    • 12 leaves fresh sage, chopped

    • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

    • 1½ tbsp. kosher salt

    • 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

    • ¼ cup water

  • For the gluten-free bread crumb topping (optional)

    • 1 cup gluten-free panko

    • 1 tbsp. granulated onion

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Make the topping: Toast the gluten-free panko in a dry pan on medium-low heat. When it begins to get brown, add the granulated onion and parsley and mix for a minute longer, being careful not to burn, and then set aside.

  3. Prepare the green beans and onions: Place the green beans in boiling water and cook until there is no squeak and they are easily bitten. Submerge in ice water to cool down. Drain well. (Note: This can be done at any time, even the day before.)

    Process mushrooms by slicing, dicing, or making a combination of cuts for the look to be more interesting. Slice onion.

  4. Make the onion sauce: In an oven-safe pot with a lid (or one that you can cover with paper and aluminum), heat oil to medium and add thyme and sage. When the herbs begin to sizzle, add the sliced onion and garlic and stir for a minute. Continue cooking, doing your best not to create any color in the pan, and then add the water and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes. Cover the pot and place in a 375° oven for 30 minutes. Make sure the pan is covered well to keep the moisture in the pot. 

     When the onion mixture is soft, blend the entire mixture in a blender until smooth. (If you want to add extra fat, you can blend with 1 cup of heavy cream.)

  5. Sauté the green beans and mushrooms: Sauté the mushrooms and sliced garlic in extra virgin olive oil with black pepper and salt for 2 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for another couple of minutes.

  6. Combine and bake: Add the pureed onion mixture into the casserole dish with the green beans and mushrooms and stir to combine. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and hot.

  7. To serve: Before serving, top with the gluten-free breadcrumb mixture.

  8. Note: You can add butter, cream, Parmesan, or any number of fatty elements as preferred. For example, you can put the casserole under the broiler with Parmesan and breadcrumbs, or put truffle oil on top, or add the typical canned shallots. Add salt to taste.