Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Marlyle's Green Bean Casserole

When I became a vegetarian, I set out to buy a vegetarian cookbook, only to discover that they were all pasta cookbooks. Okay, not only pasta; they also included rice, other grains, and beans. But the thought that one could eat and enjoy well-seasoned vegetables seemed not to exist! And, knowing my body, I knew I would gain about 400 lbs. the first year, if I followed the odd notion that vegetarians needed heavy carbs to get filled up!

So, I went home, looked in my freezer, grabbed the green beans, and started thinking things like, Onions go well with most things, and so does garlic.... This is the first dish I made as a vegetarian. My family liked it then, and now we all consider it comfort food. And if it's comfort food, the beans are well-cooked! None of that "crisp-tender" stuff! LOL!

I hope you enjoy this!

1 Tbl olive or canola oil

1 medium onion, halved vertically and thinly sliced horizontally (halving the onion first makes it easier to slice!)

1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 cube frozen, 1 tsp. jarred, 1/8 tsp powder)

1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried leaves, crushed between your fingers as you add it)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. black ground pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika (plain, not smoked)

1-1 1/2 lbs. fresh (cleaned) or frozen (easier!) green beans. (1 lb. makes 2 large servings and is baked in an 8x8 square baking dish; 1 1/2 lbs. makes 4 medium servings and is baked in an 8x10 baking dish. The extra beans dilute the onion, garlic, thyme, and paprika flavors somewhat, but it's not enough to make me want to chop and add more of them!)

2 Tbl. water

2-3 ozs. cream cheese (2 if using 1 lb. beans, 3 if using 1 1/2 lbs.)

Optional: 4-6 Morningstar Farms breakfast patties, diced in 1/2 inch pieces (This adds a lot of flavor and makes the dish more filling. Use 4 patties in 1 lb. beans, 6 in 1 1/2 lbs.)

1/3-1/2 c. shredded jack or cheddar cheese (same division for green bean amounts!)

1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray baking dish with oil spray, and set aside

In a large pot--I use my soup pot--heat the oil, and sauté onions until soft. Add garlic and continue cooking another minute or two, until you can smell the wonderful scent of garlic and onions! (One of my daughters can't smell, but I'm certain that anomaly doesn't apply to everyone else, too!) Add the thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir into the onion mixture. Add the green beans and water. Stir the beans and onions until they're mixed. Cover and cook on low heat until the beans are almost as done as you like them. (It's okay to taste them if you're uncertain.) I usually cook them past bright green and into dark green, edging into the weird green that signifies "overcooked" in the crisp-tender vernacular! (I think that's about 15-20 minutes, but I'm a "taster!")

Once the beans are as done as you'd like them to be, add the cream cheese in 3 or 4 chunks (this helps it to melt faster), stirring it occasionally as it melts. Once it's melted, stir the whole mixture until the cream cheese is distributed evenly throughout the beans. Here is where you add the diced patties, if you're using them. Heat them through, and stir them so they have cream cheese on them, too. Note: over-stirring them causes them to break apart.

Pour the mix into the appropriate sized baking dish. Sprinkle your cheese choice across the casserole, and top with the Parmesan.

If you like a browned-cheese top, leave it uncovered, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. (This will also make a drier casserole.)

IF, however, you like a creamy dish, cover it!!! Bake it for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is how I serve it as "comfort food," and we devour its creamy goodness in the living room in front of the tv and the fireplace, with the window open. (Hey, we live in Southern California, so we have to make some concessions to sitting in front of a cheerfully burning fire in the fireplace, like letting the heat out of the house, so we don't bake to death!) If dinner is late, or if I'm serving this to others, I usually add garlic bread and salad with balsamic dressing. MMMM!


  1. Have you seen any of Jeanne Lemlin's vegetarian cookbooks? She does a good job avoiding the pasta pitfall. This recipe looks great!

  2. This sounds great - I'm going to make it tomorrow. Thanks!

  3. Emily, I haven't seen those, but we'll definitely check them out. I know my mom especially is always on the lookout for non-starcy vegetarian dishes!

    Harriet, I have to admit that this is one of my favorite things that Mom makes. SO. GOOD. For serious.

  4. Damn. I hit "post" too soon, and I don't know how to fix it in Blogger.

    But I meant to say, let us know how it turns out for you! :D

  5. I made this tonight and it is so good! I used the smaller quantities, and it was actually a side dish, so I would say it served 4. I can't wait to heat up more tomorrow for lunch, I bet it will be great as leftovers. Thanks for a great recipe!

  6. Oh, Harriet, I'm so glad you liked it! This is really one of my favorites. (The other is cabbage with cream and cheese. Holy mother of God, that's good. I'll have to get Mom to post it!)

  7. Cabbage with cream cheese sounds good. My grandmother always made cabbage sauteed slowly in butter and we'd eat it over noodles. Yum.

  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's also good with sliced almonds sprinkled over the top. I know this, because I had a couple of tablespoons of them left over from some other recipe...and what do you do with that few of them? Oh, I'll toss them on this, I thought. And it added crunch! I don't know about nutrients; I bought them at Costco, so they were probably processed! Ha!


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