Thanksgiving can be a day of indulgence, but as a day of thanks we should consider one thing to be very appreciative of: our health! Thanksgiving may start as a single day, but with the mountain of leftovers the meals stretch to many more. For our health’s sake, we should consider dishes that highlight their vegetable ingredients instead of smothering their nutrition with saturated fat and sugar.
Mashed potatoes can be laden with butter and cream. If you think it is sacrilege to consider a Thanksgiving table with potatoes that are roasted instead of mashed, you could instead make those potatoes with just a tad less butter and cream.
Stuffing is a necessary part of the Thanksgiving meal, but also an excellent place to include some extra vegetables (or fruits!). Sautéed greens like kale are a great addition, especially when their bitterness balanced with a sweeter (but not sugary!) ingredient like caramelized onions, fennel, or apples.
Two ubiquitous dishes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole, are begging for a makeover. Foregoing sweet potatoes with added sugar and marshmallows for ones that are simply mashed or roasted cuts 150 empty calories per serving. A single serving of the classic condensed cream of mushroom soup used in casserole has 90 calories total, and 50 of those calories are from fat, plus 36% of your recommended daily salt intake. This classic casserole is the inspiration for the recipe below, which highlights the earthiness of mushrooms, sweetness of onions, and brightness from green beans with a much better health report card.
Green beans with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions
- 1 lb. of white or yellow onions
- 1 lb. of button mushrooms
- 2 lb. of green beans, stems removed and cut in half cross-wise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
Thinly slice the onions. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook them, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. They should lose the majority of their moisture and become a dark caramel color.
Wash and thinly slice the mushrooms. In a separate pan, heat the remaining butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer (working in a couple batches if necessary) and sprinkle with salt. If the pan looks dry wait before adding any more oil – the mushrooms will give off a lot of moisture. Cook until they are browned on both sides and then remove to a bowl.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and put it next to the stove. Put the green beans in the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. They should be bright green but still retain some crispness. When they are done shock them in the ice water to stop them from cooking further, and then dry them off in a dish towel.
To finish the dish, add the mushrooms and green beans into the pan with the onions. Toss to combine all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and finish with the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Keep on the stove for another 5 minutes, until just heated through.