Friday, February 18, 2011

Italian Style Green Beans

Before I learned to cook, I thought Green Bean Casserole was a delicious side dish.  And its okay, I just have an aversion to "cream of anything" soup.  I cooked with it so often when I was first married that now I have a hard time eating it.  I will really look hard for alternatives.  There are just so many other ways to add flavor and creaminess. 

This recipe is over the top good.  It is cheesy and creamy and the smokiness the bacon adds is out of sight.  Even my green bean hating kids ate this.  One of the things I love about this recipe is you can use fresh, canned or frozen beans.  Fresh would obviously be best, but I was really happy with the end result using home canned green beans. 

This makes enough to feed a small army.  I used 2 quarts of beans and still had too much cheese sauce, so don't add it all at once or you'll drown the flavor of the beans. Just stir the sauce in slowly until its just how you like it, and I guarantee you'll love it!

Italian-style Green Bean Casserole
Serves 6-8

1 1/2 -2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed (I used 2 quarts of home canned beans)
8 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour2 cups milk
1 roasted red pepper, diced  (roast your own, or use jarred peppers-check the pickle and olive section at the grocery store)
sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut in small pieces

6-8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3/4 sleeve Ritz crackers
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish or a 9x13 casserole pan. Gently steam the green beans just until tender but still firm. Arrange in pan.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, whisk in milk, bring to a simmer, stir in red peppers and cheese. Turn off heat and stir until cheese is melted. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Stir in the bacon.  Taste and re-season if desired.

Pour the sauce over top of the green beans. Crush the crackers into crumbs and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, combine along with Parmesan and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden on top.

Source:  Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

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