Chris Cooks

Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)

November 5, 2013  —  Written by Chris 

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Full disclosure- I make my green bean casserole with asparagus, not green beans. BUT, this recipe would still be just as awesome with fresh green beans substituted for the asparagus.

I was never a big fan of green bean casserole as a child. I think it’s probably because it’s usually made with canned green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup – neither of which I ever cared for. That said, I recognize that green bean casserole is a big part the American Thanksgiving Dinner spread. So I decided to make my own version, using the fresh counterparts to the canned classic ingredients. It’s a total winner and worth the extra effort.

Again, I used asparagus but you can just substitute the same amount of fresh green beans. This makes enough to fill an 8×11 baking dish. Here’s what you need:

8 cups fresh asparagus (or green beans), washed, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp butter
2 medium shallots, finely diced
12 medium Cremini or Baby Bella mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 cups half and half
1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can)
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed from stems and chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
1/4 cup chilled chicken sock+1 heaping Tbsp cornstarch, mixed into a slurry for thickening
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 small can fried onions
About 8oz asiago cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Putting everything together is pretty simple. Preheat a pan on medium/medium-low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted and starting to bubble, add the shallots and sauté for a minute or so. Add your mushrooms and sauté those as well, maybe 3 minutes. If the pan is dry and the mushrooms aren’t cooking well, add another tablespoon of butter.

Add the cream, stock, oregano, and thyme. Whisk that together and let it come to a simmer. Add about 3/4 of the grated cheese and whisk that in. Then add the cornstarch slurry and bring it to a simmer again, whisking constantly. The slurry will thicken the sauce, but only after it comes to a simmer, so make sure you bring it up to a full simmer before shutting off the heat. Once it simmers and has thickened, turn off the heat, add the bacon and stir. Add a pinch or two of salt if using unsalted stock, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Put your asparagus in a bowl and add the sauce. Stir to coat evenly, and transfer to a baking dish.

Like the stuffing from yesterday, I make this the night before and cover it and store it in the fridge at this point. If you’re going to make both the stuffing and this, and you don’t have a double oven, cover this casserole with tin foil and add to the oven with your stuffing right when you turn the temperature down to 350. When the stuffing is done, remove it from the oven and crank the heat up to 450. Remove the tin foil and top casserole with the fried onions and the rest of the grated cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and top is beginning to brown. If just making this, preheat your oven to 350, cover with tin foil, bake for 45-50 minutes, then do as mentioned above (bump heat to 450, remove tin foil, add onion and cheese, bake another 10-15).

The resulting casserole is earthy, warm and comforting, but not swimming in soupy liquid. While it’s a bit more involved than dumping a can of beans and a can of cream of mushroom soup into a baking dish, you get out of it what you put in. And everyone at the table will appreciate your extra effort.

So what do you think? Have you ever thought about subbing asparagus for the beans? It’s another unexpected change to a classic recipe that will breathe new life into your Thanksgiving routine, while respecting the flavors and memories of meals growing up. But even if you decide to stick with green beans, I’m confident you’ll still be pleased with the results, as will those you share it with.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my recipe for country-style herbed mashed potatoes. They’re good.

See ya then.

Links to all the posts in this series:
• Savory Cornbread Stuffing
• Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)
• Country-Style Herbed Mashed Potatoes
• Dijon Country Gravy Made with Turkey Drippings
• Homemade Cranberry Sauce Worth Serving
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bacon Vinaigrette
• How to Roast the Perfect Turkey
• Buttery and Crusty Herb-Topped Dinner Rolls
• Light and Airy Pumpkin-Ricotta Cheesecake
• How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Meal In One Oven

What do you think?

  1. Jenn says:

    Have you tried making this in a crock pot at all?! I’ve made your recipe 2 years in a row (it’s a hit!) but we always struggle with oven space. I’m going to try a crock pot this year and wondering if you have any tips! Thanks!

  2. Julia says:

    Try blanching/shocking the veg, whichever you use. Making this again this year, and using parmigiano instead of asiago. :)

    • Chris says:

      Great tip. Asparagus cooked in a completely dry method can get stringy and fibrous. I was less aware of that when I wrote this two years ago, so I appreciate you bringing that up Julia!

  3. Jessica says:

    I made this for Thanksgiving, however I used green beans. The flavor was delicious, but it ended up swimming in the juices of the green beans and was really soupy. I should have stuck to asparagus! Do you think cooking the green beans first would have prevented this from happening?

    P.S. I used your gravy recipe too- and it was AMAZING!!!!

    • Chris says:

      Haha, so funny you say that because I did the EXACT same thing for our thanksgiving dinner! When I opened the oven to put the onions on, it was really runny. I probably should have stuck to asparagus as well. :/

      To fix it, I dumped it into a pan over high heat and added a couple Tbsp of slurry mixture (equal parts cornstarch and water), brought it to a boil until it thickened and then poured it back into the backing dish, topped it with cheese and onion and finished baking. You could also pre-cook the beans, but I would suggest steaming them as opposed to boiling.

      Hope this helps! It should at least make you feel better that the inventor of the recipe had the same problem. :)

  4. I’ve never been a huge fan of green bean casserole, but I love asparagus so maybe this would redeem the dish for me. It looks delicious!

  5. Tara says:

    I’m loving this and you are making me hungry. I love asparagus. We do a simple grated cheese, garlic, asparagus baked dish. I think your dish is totally worth the extra effort. Love this week. Thanks for all the ideas.

    Just also wanted to say how so excited I am for you guys and your soon-to-be family of 4!! Julia, I wish you a smooth pregnancy and a quick/easy delivery. Oh and a healthy baby that loves to sleep.

  6. Alex says:

    Ooh, I am loving this week!! How much do you LOVE the thyme in this dish? I ask because it’s not really my cup of tea, but if it’s what marries the flavors perfectly, or really makes the casserole what it is, I’ll give it a try. But generally speaking, thyme just isn’t my love language. Would it be okay to omit or substitute?

    Can’t wait for mashed potatoes! Mmm! Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Alex!
      If you don’t care for thyme, then you can definitely take it out. If you’d like to substitute, then try another earthy herb like parsley or just leave it out altogether. It’ll still turn out great.

      Glad you’re enjoying the posts! :)

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