Just a warning up front for all those who are dairy-free. This recipe does contain dairy. A lot of dairy. More dairy than even I usually eat, and I totally love me some dairy. This is definitely a special occasion, holiday, sometimes-food. Or, a “better bad,” as we like to say. It has cheese, sour cream, butter, and a bit of heavy cream to make the soup. So if you don’t eat dairy, I can only offer my apologies because I have no substitutions to give. If you want to try it with coconut milk, or coconut oil, or vegan cheese, or something like that, I’d love to hear how it turns out! But I haven’t tried it myself, so I make no promises. Moving on…
My all-time favorite Thanksgiving side dish in the whole wide world is Green Bean Casserole. Not the recipe that most people know, with the little onion things on top and the gross mushroom soup. I actually hate that kind. No, I always looked forward to my mother making her special Green Bean Casserole, and it’s been my go-to dish for potlucks and holiday dinners for at least 10 years. I can’t count how many people have asked me for the recipe. And now…now I’m not supposed to have it anymore. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty irritated by this, what with Thanksgiving being this week and all.
Sure, the green beans are fine. And since I do eat dairy, the cheese and sour cream are no problem. Butter, check. Onion, check. The slivered almonds sprinkled on top? Perfect. The problem is the Ritz Cracker crust, the corn, the condensed cream of celery soup and whatever that’s actually made of… Huh. That’s really only three problem ingredients. Maybe I can do this…
OK, so the crushed cracker crust is a pretty big problem, because it’s the best part of the whole damn thing and it can’t be left out. But I’ve used almond flour and butter before to make a sweet berry crumble topping – if I seasoned it with salt instead of stevia and cinnamon, that should work…right?
Now, for the corn… As we know, it’s actually a grain, not a vegetable, yada, yada, yada. And honestly, it really doesn’t bring anything to the party anyway, aside from adding some more texture. Realizing that, I figured this could actually be any small veggie, so I opted for diced red pepper. It adds a little color to an otherwise green and beige-ish dish, and the sweet pepper is a nice substitute for the sweet corn. And if I was gonna dice up a fresh red pepper, I figured I really should go the extra mile and boil fresh green beans.
So my last hurdle…condensed cream of celery soup. I didn’t have very high hopes of finding a recipe to create a condensed soup. I really thought that any recipe I found would either be too runny, or would call for ingredients I couldn’t use. But I happened upon this great gluten free recipe for – tada! – condensed cream of celery soup! The internet can be a beautiful place sometimes. It’s a little time consuming, because you have to first sauté the celery and onion, and then add water and let that cook down, and then puree it, and then add cream, but still it was completely easy. I made a few adjustments to the recipe, but otherwise followed it exactly. I used a tablespoon of almond flour instead of tapioca flour 1) because I have no idea what tapioca flour is or if I’m supposed to eat it, and 2) I wasn’t running out to the store for something I would only use one tablespoon of. Almond flour worked just fine. I also used heavy cream instead of half and half, and butter instead of olive oil. Just because.
I know what you’re thinking…But isn’t the whole point of a casserole that you just toss a bunch of canned stuff in a dish, stick it in the oven, and forget about it for 45 minutes? Truthfully, yes. And so maybe this recipe is too much trouble for most people. I mean, if I found it on some random recipe site, I’d probably think it was too much trouble. But if you could somehow taste this dish through your computer – well, first of all, that would mean I had created some kind of really revolutionary and amazing software and could quit my job – but secondly (and more importantly for our purposes here) I promise you, you would do whatever necessary to set aside the extra time to make this stuff. I initially only went to the trouble of making it as sort of challenge; To see if I could create a Primal-friendly version of an old childhood favorite. But I ended up taking something I already loved and making it even more mindblowingly awesome. So, that’s what using fresh, real ingredients can do, huh?
Primal Green Bean Casserole
1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ an onion, finely diced
8 ounces sour cream
¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 batch Homemade Condensed Cream of Celery Soup (It helps to make this ahead of time and have it ready in the fridge)
2 cups almond flour
1 stick butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and boil a medium sized pot of salted water. Add the cut green beans to the boiling water and cook about 10 minutes, or until tender. In a large bowl, combine the cooked green beans, diced red pepper, diced onion, sour cream, cheese and premade soup, then pour into a 13×9 baking dish.
In a smaller bowl, combine the almond flour and salt, and then pour in the melted butter. Mix together until it forms a thick, somewhat crumbly batter. Spread it over the top of the casserole filling, then sprinkle evenly with slivered almonds.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until crumb topping is golden brown and crisp.
I swear, if you can get past the time commitment and extra effort, you will not be disappointed! This isn’t just “as good as” the original, it’s better. My mama’s never gonna forgive me for messin’ with her recipe…