A lighter way to do green bean casserole

EatingWell Tribune Media Services Originally Published December 20, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 19, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
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Tribune Media Services

This healthy version of a green bean casserole has about 160 fewer calories than the traditional recipe.

Typical green bean casseroles bathe ingredients in a heavy cream sauce and top them with buttered breadcrumbs or cheese. Our healthier version saves about 160 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat compared to a traditional recipe.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Serves 8

Active time: 50 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper

2 1/2 cups low-fat milk

1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see tips) or 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese

Directions:

  1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven; preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil until well coated. Divide between 2 baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, stirring once and rotating the pans top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add milk and continue to stir, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. (See tips.)
  4. When the green beans are done, remove from the oven. Preheat the broiler.
  5. Transfer half the green beans to a 2-quart, broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the green beans. Add the remaining green beans and top with the remaining sauce.
  6. Combine breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl (skip this step if you are topping with cheese).
  7. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture (or cheese) over the casserole. Place under the broiler and broil, watching closely, until the casserole is bubbling and beginning to brown on top, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

To make ahead: Roast green beans (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare the sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the green beans.

Tips:

To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs.

To add extra flavor to the cream sauce, at the end of Step 3 stir in 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage or parsley. Or make it cheesy by stirring in 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese, such as Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar or blue cheese.

Recipe nutrition per serving: 170 calories; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 4 grams monounsaturated); 4 milligrams cholesterol; 23 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams added sugars; 7 grams protein; 5 grams fiber; 303 milligrams sodium; and 367 milligrams potassium.

Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C, 25 percent daily value; vitamin A, 23 percent DV; and calcium and folate , 17 percent DV.

Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 vegetable and 1 fat.

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