Green bean casserole is a guilty pleasure. A lot of people bemoan the dish as an exemplar of horrible mid-century American cooking. Yet, every time it is brought out at a family dinner everyone digs in for a heaping serving spoonful. Interesting.
The challenge becomes what to do when you come to the realization that your daughter is lactose intolerant and you cannot fall back on the wonders of canned cream of something soup. Add in an overarching desire to reduce the consumption of animal based products—the whole striving to be vegan, but failing a lot—and you will find yourself in a conundrum.
Kitchen conundrums are only solved with knife in hand and a pot on the range. The first step is to start with a grip load of vegetables:
I cut up about one and half medium onions, a half dozen ribs of celery, and a few cloves of garlic. I sautéed these in about eight tablespoons of vegan margarine. Once the onions, celery, and garlic were soft and aromatic I added eight ounces of sliced mushrooms. You could adjust these to your own preference, but remember that you are trying to make up for the flavor that was coming from a cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup.
Here is where things get tricky. For this particular batch I thickened 2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk with 6 tablespoons of flour:
As the mixture thickened, I thinned it out with a little additional cashew milk. In other batches I have had to use more flour to achieve the desired thickness. It is really dependent on the day. Season with salt and pepper to personal preference. Remember, the green beans you use may contain sodium so be careful with the salt shaker.
Mix in four 14.5 ounce cans of green beans and the mixture is done. Pour about half of the mixture into an oven safe casserole dish, spread a layer of fried onions, and pour the remaining mixture into the casserole dish. Finish with a layer of fried onions:
One of the best things about this dish is that everything is fully cooked before going into the over, so it can be cooked alongside another dish at its particular temperature. I just watch to see when the top starts to brown a lot.
Where this recipe fails in being totally vegan is that on one half of the dish I spread a layer of shredded aged cheddar cheese. She may be gung ho for getting rid of the meat in our diet, but she draws the line at totally eliminating cheese.