On a holiday lauded for its leftovers, the green bean casserole doesn’t hold up. Try these green bean casserole-inspired deviled eggs instead!
On the often monochromatic Thanksgiving tablescape of taupe turkey, white potatoes, and beige gravy, the green bean casserole offers at least the suggestion of greenery. This vestige of vegetal matter is traditionally composed of canned, heavily salted, and overcooked green bean fragments bobbing like mossy driftwood in a cream of mushroom swamp. Most would agree that the redeeming feature of this casserole is the crispy fried onion topping. The fried onions are delicious because they are salty and crunchy, but in conjunction with the mushroom soup component, they tend to leave a greasy coating clinging to the tongue, like you’ve just licked clean a can of Crisco. To make matters worse, the green bean casserole may be the only side dish that doesn’t hold up well as a leftover due to the fact that the fried onions become soggy rather quickly. While the rest of the tasty cast members of Thanksgiving are giving repeat performances, delighting our appetites for days beyond the holiday, the green bean casserole has walked out on the job, no understudy to take its place, a sloppy mess that eventually has to be scraped out of its dish into the trash.
Why then, given the typically low ranking that the green bean casserole holds amongst all Thanksgiving side dishes, do we continue to make it year after year? Is it the compulsion to abandon reason in exchange for the comforts of tradition? Is it an effort to placate the familial preparer of the green bean casserole? Is it a means to convince ourselves that, on a day devoted to eating, we have adequately balanced our dietary choices with consumption of some green vegetables? (See also: Reagan-era proposals allowing ketchup and relish to count as vegetables in government-subsidized school lunches). Whatever the answer, I hope that the test kitchen chefs and advertising staff of Campbell’s Soup Company all received fat Christmas bonuses in the year 1955 when they invented the dish that is now branded into the hide of American nostalgia as a means to sell more cream of mushroom soup.
Allow me to suggest an alternative to the traditional green bean casserole in the form of these deviled eggs. They are guaranteed to capture all of the nostalgia and comfort food flavor of the original, but they sure do look a lot prettier - and you won’t need to worry about leftovers, as they’ll be gobbled up before you can say “please pass the gravy”.
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, sliced,
yolks set aside for filling
12 hard-boiled egg yolks
4 oz. whipped cream cheese spread
2 T. mayo
1 T. plain hummus
1 T. butter or margarine
¼ of a large yellow onion, sliced
½ package (appx. 2 - 3 oz) sliced shitake mushrooms
2 sage leaves
2 pinches of salt
1 pinch black pepper
12 green beans
Canned fried onions
Saute the onion and shitake mushrooms in butter or margarine along with the sage leaves, salt, and pepper until the mushrooms and onions have softened and have darkened slightly. Discard the sage leaves. Set mushrooms and onions aside.
In a food processor, combine the yolks, cream cheese, mayo, and hummus. Yes, hummus! The acidity from the hummus cuts through the richness of the mixture yet doesn't disrupt the creaminess. Blend until smooth. Add the mushrooms and onions and blend again. You want to be able to see some small bits of mushroom in the final mixture, so take care to not over blend. Pipe this mixture into your hard-boiled egg halves.
In a small saucepan, bring ⅔ c. of water to a boil. Add green beans and cover for 3 minutes to steam. Immediately drain. If you're feeling really chefy, plunge the beans into an ice water bath to stop them from cooking and keep them as firm and crisp as possible. Slice the green beans in half on a diagonal and slice the ends off on a diagonal as well. Arrange two bean pieces atop each filled egg. Top with one or more fried onion pieces.