A Fresh New Classic - The Little Dragon Alternative to Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving and Christmas
Fresh, Flavorful and New
This is a side dish for any special occasion that takes a little more time to prepare than the soup and french fried onion variety, but also uses fresh ingredients and is worth your efforts. Instead of the canned fried onions, we use pecans or toasted almonds. Fresh mushrooms and Greek Yogurt or sour cream substitute for the soup for a different flavor and fewer calories.
Homemade French-bread fresh breadcrumbs, rather than dried or day-old bread types, are a delight in this dish. You can use them as-is, or you can season them with any of your favorite herbs and spices that you enjoy in croutons. Remember that the tarragon in the recipe below will be a strong flavor in itself.
Tarragon - Little Dragon of Flavor
In French, our tarragon is estragon and means approximately little dragon or dragon herb, indicating its strong flavor and perhaps reflecting the plant's coiled roots. The herb is one of four major herbs (fines herbes) in French cooking and a major ingredient in Bearnaise Sauce, often used on finished steaks.
Interestingly, Estragon is also the name of a character in the play Waiting for Godot. This lends another level of meaning to the production, which already has endless levels.
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Tarragon Green Beans or Dragon Bean Casserole
Serves 8 at about 180 calories per serving.
This recipe calls for a few lo-fat ingredients, so don't hesitate to use the Butter and Olive Oil.
- 1 Pound fresh long green beans
- Table Salt
- 2 TBSP Butter
- 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil, separated
- 1 Yellow Onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thin
- 3 or 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 Pound of white button or cremini Mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
- 1 Cup lo-fat Chicken Broth
- ½ Cup Lite Sour Cream or Lite Greek Yogurt
- 2 TBSP of fresh-snipped Tarragon (or 2 tsp of dried tarragon), or to taste. The fresh herb will offer much more flavor. Too much can be overpowering. [1 or 2 tsp of Anise Seed can be substituted, but the flavor of the dish will different].
- 3/4 Cup fresh-bread breadcrumbs made from dense French Bread, using your food processor or blender
- 1/2 Cup halved toasted Almonds or chopped Pecans for a sweeter taste; Pecans are very good in this dish.
- 1 tsp grated Lemon Zest
- Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste
- In the oven, put the oven rack in middle position. Set heat at 375 degrees F.
- Check the green beans over and remove any that are shriveled or otherwise unusable. Wash the beans in cold water and drain in a sieve.
- Trim bean ends and cut the longest beans in half with a long diagonal cut for extracting extra flavor in cooking and leave shorter beans intact. If all are rather short, leave whole.
- In one side of a clean kitchen sink, stopper the drain and fill halfway with cool water. Add a tray of ice cubes.
- Place green beans with 1/2 Cup of Water and a dash of the salt into a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet on the stove top over High heat. Cover and cook about 6 minutes until beans are a bright green color, crisp, and slightly tender.
- Quickly remove the skillet from the stove, pour beans into sieve, set sieve into the ice bath for a minute or two to stop cooking and save the bright color. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil over Medium heat until the butter foams.
- Pour in onions and cook until soft and just golden in color, also about 6 minutes (stop sooner if needed).
- Stir in garlic and cook just until fragrant.
- Sire in mushrooms and cook until golden, about 4 minutes.
- Pour in chicken broth, stir and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the sour cream or yogurt and tarragon.
- Carefully stir in the green beans and heat through.
- Put the Dutch oven or iron skillet into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove form oven.
- Heat 1 TBSP of olive oil over Medium heat, pour nuts, and stir until nuts are golden brown. Season with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Spread breadcrumbs over the green been dish and drizzle the olive oil mixture across the top.