Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A lovely twist on a family tradition

It couldn’t be any less fall-like outside. If you look closely, you will see some of the leaves starting to fall from the trees, but the weather here in Portland is warm and summer-like.

Yet, as I sat outside with my lunch yesterday, I thought about the date on the calendar. It’s the middle of September and before we know it, we will be bundling up in sweaters and long-sleeved shirts, and (here in Portland) donning our rain-proof gear. We will be planning holiday get-togethers and cooking holiday meals.

Growing up in Minnesota, fall was always my favorite season. Never mind the drop in temperature and adjusting to the beginning of another school-year, I loved the fresh crispness in the air, the beautiful colors in the leaves on the trees, and the atmosphere of growing excitement over the upcoming holiday season. Fall reminds me of chasing leaves as they blew off the large trees in our backyard, and my sister and I taking turns burying each other in them. We would collect the small green apples from our two apple trees and mom would bake an apple pie or two.

And presenting itself at every thanksgiving was the traditional green bean casserole, complete with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. I used to make a variation on this casserole, using fresh (not the canned, fried variety) sautéed onion and adding cooked chicken breast. Living on my own, I could make this on a Sunday evening and eat it for dinner about four or five nights in a row.

Since going gluten free, I haven’t tried to make this casserole because the creamed soup is out. Thinking of fall, and having those lovely genuine French-style green beans in season, however, prompted me take a stab at my own version of this family favorite.

I poked around for a creamed soup recipe and adjusted it to remove the dairy and cornstarch (can’t eat either). I didn’t have any chicken on hand, so I used ground turkey breast instead. It turned out delicious! (and very Minnesotan!) Try it out and think about the upcoming holidays, family, and cool weather (maybe it’s already cool where you are?).

Green Bean Casserole:

1 pound ground turkey
1-1 ½ pounds green beans (if you don’t have access to the French ones, use ‘french style’)
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
½ -1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp rosemary
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp sea salt

For the “cream of mushroom soup”:

1 cup milk substitute (I used hazelnut milk)
2 Tbs tapioca starch/flour (see note)
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp gluten free bullion (I use Herb-ox in my cooking, since it’s gluten free and sodium free)

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey, adding the cayenne pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sea salt. Drain the juices and set the turkey aside.

In the same skillet, sauté the mushrooms and onion until the onion becomes soft and the mushrooms begin to shrink. Add the mushroom mixture to the ground turkey.

In a large pot with a lid, add the green beans and a splash of water. Cover and steam on low heat.

Meanwhile, pour the hazelnut milk in a small saucepan and add the tapioca starch. Mix well. Begin heating on medium heat, adding the butter and bullion, and stirring often. Once the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook a while longer, still stirring, until sauce becomes good and thick. Set aside.

Once beans are tender, drain liquid and place in a large casserole dish. Mix in the turkey mixture and the “soup.”

Bake in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes.


Note: Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing. You may use any kind of starch in the place of the tapioca, such as potato, arrowroot, corn, etc.

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