Every Thanksgiving, green bean casserole is a traditional dish to serve, and for many families it’s a woefully bland experience, with the freshness—in terms of both taste and texture—of the green beans totally lost. This weekend, my fiancé and I pre-gamed Thanksgiving by doing a turkey, and we made sides with ingredients we already had to hand: frozen green beans,* a red onion that I had to use up, and gravy made from turkey stock I already had in the freezer. The green beans, as an impromptu dish, were a bit of an experiment, but they also turned out to be amazing, and had all the elements of a green bean casserole that I could wish for. They have umami and crispiness from the fried onion topping, which compliments the slight sweetness and almost creamy texture the green beans take on from the roasting. They take almost no effort or time to make, so you can have them going and just keep an eye on them while you take care of the more complicated dishes you’ve got planned for your Thanksgiving table, and the results taste better-than-restaurant quality. Bonus: they have the best elements of a green bean casserole, but are low-carb!
*While I used frozen green beans, I recommend using fresh, just because it makes the roasting even easier and takes less time. If you do use frozen, then roast just the green beans for 5 minutes to defrost, then add the garlic and follow the instructions as given.
2 lb green beans
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Olive oil, to coat (if you have duck or turkey fat, all the better—melt and use rather than the oil)
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
About 2 cups canola oil, to fry
Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the green beans and garlic with the olive oil, spread in an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until the green beans take on a little char.
Meanwhile, add the sliced onion to a large frying pan and add just enough canola oil to cover. Turn the heat to high and cook until the onions begin taking on color, stirring every several minutes. Once they’re golden brown (about 5 minutes), turn the heat to medium and stir fairly frequently, until they’re deep brown but not burnt (about another 10 minutes). Remove from the oil with a spider (skimmer) to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
When the green beans are ready, top with the crispy fried red onions and cook under the broiler for another minute to crisp up the onions a bit more.