What’s Thanksgiving without a Green Bean Casserole — that’s vegan and gluten free as well?

by Irvin on November 30, 2010 · 27 comments

This recipe has been updated!
Visit my new version of this vegan green bean casserole.

When SFoodie asked me to write about my favorite Thanksgiving dish, I was honored to be considered one of their “favorite food people of San Francisco.” But it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to write about. My first inclination was to go with a dessert. After all desserts are what I’m all about – especially on this here bloggity blog. So it was a bit of a surprise (even to myself) to finally settle on the unassuming much maligned green bean casserole. Even more surprising was, through circumstances, I made it vegan and gluten free and ended up liking it even MORE than the dairy version!

Not your average Green Bean Casserole.

I hesitated in writing up a blog post about it, especially since Thanksgiving has already past. But enough people on twitter and in real life (that’s “IRL” if you are a twitteraholic) asked me about my recipe with fresh green beans and pan fried shallots that I felt like I had to write about it, even if it’s not the sort of thing I normally post on (in fact, this green bean casserole isn’t even put in the oven, but made on a stovetop so I can’t even call it a baked good, and clearly the name “casserole” is a misnomer, but oh well).

This Thanksgiving AJ and I ended up spending it down in LA at our friend’s Rita and Damon’s condo. We were invited to a wedding on the Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend (that’s a story for another post) and so we called up Rita and Damon and asked if they wouldn’t mind if we threw our annual Thanksgiving dinner down in their condo.

The awesome and amazing Rita and Damon.

AJ and I have a tradition of ALWAYS hosting Thanksgiving dinner. It started a good eight or nine years ago where we had every plan and ever intention of making Thanksgiving dinner. But a friend (who shall remain nameless) called us up to let us know that he was going to be in town. Then we made the mistake of letting him convince us to cancel our Thanksgiving dinner to go to the one that he was planning to go to. Then, due to some misinformation on his end, his dinner was cancelled at the last minute and he was invited to go to a friend of a friend’s dinner. Making us the friend of the friend of the friend. That’s one too many degrees of separation for us. We bowed out but then were left high and dry without a Thanksgiving dinner. Sadness.

Rita and Damon's kitchen is awesome!

We swore never to let that happen again. So every Thanksgiving, on the day of Thanksgiving, we make a giant dinner – regardless of how many people show up. We’ve made dinner for just the two of us, and we’ve made dinner for 11 people. Rita and Damon were gracious enough to let us continue our tradition in their condo, taking over their kitchen and inviting over all our mutual friends.

AJ makes the turkey every year. I am always in awe of it. This year's 20 lb one was awesome.

AJ and I had driven down on Tuesday night with our car packed to the gills with Thanksgiving pots and pans and specialized kitchen tools that were afraid Rita and Damon didn’t have (extra large roaster, roasting rack, potato ricer. pastry blender. Four different thermometers, mortar and pestle and a few other things) and it was a smooth drive down the 5 highway, with little traffic. Shopping on Wednesday was a bit hectic, especially as we got a late start to the farmer’s market in Santa Monica, but when we arrived, the produce was bountiful and our bags were overflowing with awesome looking vegetables and produce by the time the farmers were packing up their stalls.

I had originally planned on baking four desserts but unfortunately I did not bring down any extra pie tins and the pie tins that I had left at Rita and Damon’s from a previous event we co-hosted down there with them were left at a friend of theirs. I told Rita that because we only had three pie tins not four, she had to pick between a sweet potato pie or a chocolate pecan pie, and to my astonishment, Rita (who loves chocolate more than anyone else I know) deliberately and slowly articulated that she thought sweet potato would be a better fit for Thanksgiving. So I skipped the pecan pie.

So that night I bake my three dessert pies. Traditional pumpkin spiced pie with whipped cream (I had make the pumpkin puree up in SF and froze it and brought it down with me), a sweet potato southern comfort infused pie with meringue topping and an apple spiced pie with fall dried fruit with vanilla ice cream (a variant of the apple slab pie that I brought to an event the week before – another post for another time).

Funny thing about the apples, when I bought them at the Farmer’s market, the man next to me was struggling (and I mean really struggling) with which varietal to purchase for a pie, the granny smith or the pink ladies, walking back and forth in a nervous agitated way. To calm him down, I turned to him and told him to buy a bunch of different ones. He looked directly at me and then point blank asked me if I was a baker. And though I normally don’t say that I am, I just didn’t have the energy to explain to him that I baked a lot but wasn’t a professional baker, so I just said confidently without pause “Yes. I am.” He brightened up, bought a bunch of apples of all sorts of types and then turned to me and thanked me by saying “It’s so great to get the opinion of a professional! It’s why I like to come here to the Farmer’s Market!”

With that, he was off. As I bought my apples, the purveyor smiled at me, handed me my change and said in a pleasant Chinese accent “Thank you! See you next week!”

And just like that. I was a native regular who came to the farmer’s market. I love it.

AJ and I spent all of Thursday morning and afternoon making food. Rita and Damon, the rockstars that they are, went to their family obligation dinners. In fact, they had two large dinners to go BEFORE our dinner started at 7pm. I was impressed that they were left standing by the time they made it back to their home. We had invited a slew of people over and about 10 people were able to make it to the Thanksgiving festivities.

Our full menu included:
Herb Roasted Free Range Organic Turkey
Bacon Wrapped Goat Cheese Filled Dates*
Brown Butter Scallion Mashed Potatoes
Home Cured Bacon (thanks Michael Ruhlman) & Italian Sausage Dressing
Honey Glazed Rosemary Heirloom Carrots
Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin
Fresh Green Bean & Mushroom Casserole with Pan Fried Shallots
Maple Candied Yams with Streusel Topping
Rosemary Beer Bread
Buttermilk Cornbread
Apple Cider White Wine Gravy
Cinnamon Apple Cranberry Sauce
Spiced Old Fashion Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream
Sweet Potato Southern Comfort infused Pie with Meringue topping
Apple and Dried Fall Fruit Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

*Our fantastic friend Vicky and Frankie brought these over for appetizers! Which is a good thing, as we invited everyone over to eat around 7pm and didn’t finish bringing out the food until 8:30pm.

Looking at the menu, it’s hard to believe that I had fears that we wouldn’t have enough food. This, of course, is an ongoing fear of mine whenever I throw a party and you would think after making Thanksgiving dinner for nearly 10 years, I would be over that fear. But clearly I was not.

The evening was a success, with much eating, laughing, more eating, hilarity, and still more eating throughout the evening. I love that AJ and I were able to bring our Thanksgiving down in LA, with our friends and loved ones, truly sharing the spirit of Thanksgiving. Thank you Rita and Damon for letting us take over your spare bedroom and kitchen!

Ah, but the Thanksgiving festivities weren’t over! AJ and I had told Rita and Damon that we often times casually have people over on the day after Thanksgiving to eat our leftovers. So Rita and Damon sent a mass email out to everyone who couldn’t make it to Thanksgiving and about 30 people responded in the affirmative that they were going to swing by.

30 people! Which, of course, put all of us in a slight panic that there wouldn’t be enough food for all of them. We shooed the last of the guests out of the condo around 2am on Thanksgiving evening and then woke up the next morning, determined to make EVEN MORE food.

To complicate challenge things even more, Rita and Damon had a couple of friends who were vegan coming to our post-Thanksgiving spread… Now I’m fairly adept at making food for vegans, vegetarians, diabetics, gluten free, whatever the food restriction is. But I usually need to plan it out. BUT the vegans were a last minute addition, and almost ALL of the food we had made the night before had butter in it (well, except for the cranberry sauce, but the sugar I used in the sauce wasn’t vegan so there’s that).

Omnivores and vegans/vegetarians all happy together!

But we came up with a few new items that were vegan friendly for our guests. Because EVERYONE should be welcome and included at the dinner table.

Our Friday “Friendsgiving” menu included all the above food (as leftovers from the night before) as well as:
Chinese Sticky Rice Casserole
Roasted Root Vegetables*
Green Bean Casserole (the vegan sequel)*
Guinness Buffalo Cottage Pie
Chips and Homemade Guacamole*
Sliced fresh vegetables with homemade hummus*
Olive Bread**
Vegan Cherry Pie**
*are vegan friendly dishes.
** are homemade dishes that the vegans brought with them. Both utterly fantastic.

All 30 guests were fed to the brim and left happy and satisfied. I love that our friends Rita and Damon were willing to put up with us taking over their condo for the weekend, where we put to good use their five range Bosch stovetop AND two ovens, one of which is convection as well as all their amazing All Clad cookware (I really need good cookware. Someone buy me some please. Thank you). I stare at my little dinky oven that AJ and I affectionately refer to as our “EZ Bake Oven” and just shake my head at what I could accomplish with more than one oven. But I guess this just gives me an excuse to visit and cook down there more often.

In the meanwhile, I know that I’ll be making the vegan version of the green bean casserole for my table from now on. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s vegan. I’m the LAST person to advocate veganism as a food lifestyle, as I liberally use butter, leaf lard and bacon in a lot of my food. But trust me, this version is superior to the non vegan version that I make AND it’s heads and tails better than the cream of mushroom soup version. If you bounce over to the original SFoodie article that I started this post with, you’ll learn that I fell in love with the cream of mushroom soup canned creation (completely with the fried onion in a canister) back in high school while abroad in the Netherlands. You can blame my lack of exposure to it (my parents raised me on fresh green beans, never the canned ones) or the fact that I didn’t really have a highly sophisticated palate, but in the end I full own up to the fact that for years to come my Thanksgiving table wasn’t completely without that creation.

But this version, well let me just say that the vegans (and non vegans) devoured it, finding it better than the one I made the day before. In fact there was NONE left over while there was still some of the cream based green bean casserole version left. The vegan casserole was one of the few dishes completely finished on the table.

Rita and Damon, by the way, went to yet ANOTHER Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday night after we had left. As AJ and I sat on the 5 for about 9 hours trying to get home in stop and go holiday traffic they were gorging themselves yet again. When I finally texted them to tell them we arrived home in one piece, they text back and said “Ate our fifth Thanksgiving dinner. Never eating again.”

But I bet you if I made this for them again, they’d eat it.

While making this, I listened to a hodgepodge of music, though most of it on the playlist included the Glee Soundtrack.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee D. November 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

>it sounds like you had an amazing thanksgiving! all that food looks so delicious!

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kudzu December 1, 2010 at 12:24 am

>This is a mind-boggling food extravaganza!! You two are just the cookingest people I know. And look how many people you made so very happy.

My mother used to sing a song to us each year when we were little, "If you want to feel gay on Thanksgiving Day, give something away – give something away." I'm just saying.

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Johnna December 1, 2010 at 12:47 am

>I can't wait to try your green bean casserole! Why didn't I think of using cashew cream in mine? I used it in my pumpkin pie instead. I'm making yours next time!

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Rita December 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

Clearly–from the fact you keep thanking us–you still do not understand at all.

Thank you, Irvin and AJ, for transporting this magical feast from SF, into our new home! For letting us know what our ovens, stovetop, and cookware can do; what our table can hold; and what awesome parties our place can host!!

As always, you show us the way.

r&d

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omgyummy December 1, 2010 at 1:02 am

Amazing photos and what great spreads. I love your comment about fear of not having enough – that is so me and my family :-) I can't believe you got up the next day and cooked more. That's nuts in a good kind of way.

Will be bookmarking the green bean casserole for next year. This year, my SIL made a different green bean dish because she wanted to make something more healthy. It was good but even she admitted she missed the old-fashioned mushroom one. So the idea of a healthy version of the old-fashioned one that I'm sure tastes WAY BETTER, is perfect.

Get some rest – you need it.

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kudzu December 1, 2010 at 1:28 am

PS I never, ever ate that original green bean casserole, but I am willing to give your much more interesting recipe a try! Thanks!

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Laura December 1, 2010 at 6:22 am

I think you should link this up to Just Another Meatless Monday! I know plenty of people would kill for a vegan version of the old standby–PS AJ is HOTNESS!!

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tetujin December 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

irvin — this is an amazing article, and i am honored and humbled to have been a part of your and AJ's thanksgiving dinner. i sampled so many amazing dishes, and there were so many more that i didn't, regretfully, have the room in my stomach to explore! as always, it was super awesome getting to see you and AJ again, and i'm glad we came both nights. you guys are a always a hoot (possibly a hootenanny). :) thanks again, and thanks again!

-tony and sara.

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petoke December 1, 2010 at 8:20 am

I'm so impressed you can make cashew cream stuff. I went to a raw food restaurant that had tons of dishes made with nut creams, and damn were they yummy.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the deeeeeeeelicious feast. I weighed myself afterwards and I was 9000 lbs heavier on Saturday than I was on Wednesday. Thank you for that too. I am fat but very happy.

question – sugar can be non-vegan? how?

e

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Mr. Jackhonky December 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

@Dee D. Thank you! I think everyone enjoyed it! I know AJ and I had a blast doing it!

@kudzu. I can't believe that we are the cookingest poeple you know I just can't. ESPECIALLY with the circle YOU run in! Next time I see you, you better since that song to AJ and I! And I do have a nostalgic fondness for the old school cream of mushroom version. But something tells me the memory of it is better than the reality.

@Johnna. I was very pleased to whip up the cashew cream for it. I've actually never made it before but it was super easy and perfect for this dish!

@Rita. Whatever. I don't think YOU understand that we appreciate you letting us take over your kitchen and your second bedroom for the week! Yay! You guys are the best.

@omgyummy. Thank you! It's an ongoing fear of mine that I am trying to overcome, not having enough for my guests. And I have to admit, I was super happy with the way it turned out! It had a richness but not too rich, and a earthiness without being too heavy. The fresh green beans were snappy bright and green as well!

@Laura. Just did. Plus AJ IS total hotness. I'm a lucky guy!

@tetujin. We were SUPER excited that you two could come! Both days! Yay! AJ and I aspire to be a hootenanny, so thank you very much for that.

@petoke. As you saw in the recipe above, cashew cream is SO super easy to make. Strangely, I've never been to a raw food restaurant. I should check one out.

I'm glad that you are fat and happy. Better to be fat and happy then skinny and sad. That is my motto. Well that, and better dry than salmonella.

Also vegan is a bit of sliding scale. Some vegans don't eat some white sugar because it's processed with an animal bone char charcoal filter in the refinement process. Not all white sugar is processed this way, but the big ones (Dominos and C&H) are. But some vegans aren't as picky about it.

Same goes with honey. Some vegans don't eat it, some do. I believe Molly and her parents, who were there at the party didn't care about honey, especially since the honey used was from the rooftop of the NRDC building in New York. I don't know if Molly and her parents ended up eating any of the honey glazed carrots though…

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Harianto February 8, 2012 at 5:12 am

Okay, I’m weird but I’ve never rllaey liked Thanksgiving! It was probably because my grandma didn’t make the best food and the turkey was always dry…and I don’t like pumpkin pie! But I love apple I agree with you on the Christmas music though! Already blasting it while I study, workout, etc. Glee! Ahhh I need to start catching up!

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Rita December 2, 2010 at 2:31 am

[Molly and her parents] totally ate the carrots, because they were analyzing it. Trying to determine what the spices were that they tasted, such as . . . orange zest?? They loved it.

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Stephanie December 2, 2010 at 3:58 am

Bravo! My hostess for thanksgiving had to assign a couple of dishes, one of them being the green bean casserole, so that was not one of the glutenless foods I could eat :( But, since you've posted such a fantastic looking recipe, with such rave reviews, I will just have to make this for myself this weekend! So excited!

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Debra December 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Wow, Gluten-free green bean casserole! Last year I poisoned my boyfriend with the mushroom soup version. Looking forward to trying some of your gluten-free baking recipes. (Xmas cookies!!!!) Happy happy holidays Irvin!

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k December 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

You must must post your recipe for sticky rice casserole.

I love sticky rice, and I know how to wrap it in lotus/bamboo, but it would be sooo much easier in a casserole!

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allison December 3, 2010 at 5:54 am

Awesome post! I love your concern for your friends who eat differently than you do. My family has blessed me so many times over the last year and a half by altering recipes to be gluten free. It is so much easier when you have people who care about you so much. My Mema is currently trying to make me some gluten free fried pies. The regular ones are heaven… I can't wait to see what she comes up with. Can't wait to try your green bean casserole.

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Diane-The WHOLE Gang December 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Wow I wish I lived near you. I'd totally crash your dinner parties. Love the recipe for this green bean casserole. It proves living gluten free tastes great. I'll be making this one for sure. I use a gluten free soy sauce because if it doesn't say gluten free most soy sauce contains gluten. I've also wanted to try cashew cream and you just made up my mind it's going to be this weekend. We're having this for Sunday dinner!

It was great to meet you in SF @ blogher food. Wish I was still there. Love that city!

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foodie December 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

nice!

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Mr. Jackhonky December 4, 2010 at 1:55 am

@Rita. Oh good. I'm glad they ate and enjoyed it. It did have orange zest in it.

@Stephanie. Yay! Hope you enjoy it! Let me know your thoughts on it, after you make it…

@Debra. LOL. Happy holidays to you too!

@k. it's actually not MY sticky rice dish, it's my host Rita and Damon's recipe. I'll try to get it though, as I loved it. Basically you just make the glutinous rice in the rice cooker, and the other stuff in a wok, and then you just mix it together. Way easier than the lotus/bamboo wrapped version, though I like the wrapped version because it does impart a great flavor…. It's just really fussy to do.

@allison. Well I think EVERYONE should be able to enjoy the food that we make. It's why I strive to make food that is tasty, regardless of the food restrictions that are in place. It's not super hard, it just one or two extra step (or a few different ingredients). Fried pies sound great! Let me know how they turn out!

@Diane. Whoops. You're totally right! I went ahead and changed the recipe above to include Tamari soy sauce which is a wheat/gluten free soy sauce. Let me know how you like it! And come back and visit! SF will always be here! It's a wonderful town.

@foodie. Thank you!

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annelies December 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Wow. You really outdid yourself in those two lavish meals. AND creating your own holiday to trounce Black Friday- Friendsgiving Friday – love it! I always worry about not having enough food when people are coming over, so you are not alone. AND you are a baker. You can say it with confidence. Now, whether you're an MOF, well that's something else entirely.

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Steph (desserts for breakfast) December 5, 2010 at 7:07 am

haha, that story of you at the farmers' market is awesome and priceless! :-D

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make my day December 6, 2010 at 2:04 am

Definitely a 'gorge -ous feast!' the image of the plates from above on your table has to be the front cover of the book of the same name – by mr jackhonky! can't wait to try the green bean casserole. cheers kari

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Serene @ MomFood December 10, 2010 at 2:22 am

I have never been so in awe of a cook in all my days. WOW.

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Mr. Jackhonky January 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm

@annelies. I would NEVER call myself an MOF! I might get arrested by the French government! But thanks for the vote of confidence that I can call myself a baker.

@Steph. The farmer's market was actually pretty awesome as is. That story just kinda added a nice touch.

@make my day. Thank you! We'll see about that book…

@Serene. Thank you! That's saying something, considering the feast that you made for Thanksgiving!

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idonthaveaname December 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

hahaha glee soundtrack … I love you even more now

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liz November 26, 2013 at 12:34 am

We’re allergic to nuts and dairy. Any suggestions for the cream? Coconut milk?

Thanks

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Irvin November 26, 2013 at 2:27 am

Hi Liz. You could try substituting either coconut milk or soy/hemp/rice milk for the cream. Coconut milk will add a slightly coconut flavor to the dish (not a bad thing but not very traditional). If you go with soy/hemp/rice I would also add a tablespoon or two of the cornstarch to thicken it as all the milk substitutions run pretty thin. Good luck!

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