White Bean Casserole with Crunchy Onion Topping

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This month’s 5 Star Makeover theme is holiday green bean casserole. I know most people have strong feelings one way or the other about this casserole; personally, I love it, but only if it’s fresh. Unlike most Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, this dish seems to lose its magic once re-heated.

At first for this makeover I was planning to do a more gourmet version of this classic side dish (an “ultimate” version, if you will), making everything from scratch – replacing the canned fried onions with homemade mini onion rings, making a lovely velvety béchamel instead of canned mushroom soup, and intensifying the mushroom flavor by using a mix of wild shrooms.

Then I thought about it some more, and did a quick Google search. As you might have guessed, quite a few bloggers have already shared gorgeous versions of homemade (or mostly homemade, which totally counts in my book) green bean casserole.

So onto Plan B.

I decided to make a different kind of bean casserole.

I used white beans and did my own version of a crunchy onion topping, made with a flavorful mixture of sautéed onion and breadcrumbs.

Actually, when I set out making this dish, I had my White Bean Chowder in mind as inspiration, and was trying to remake that soup into a side dish. Funnily enough, the end result tastes much less like that soup and much more like a classic French dish called Cassoulet. It’s a rich and hearty, almost stew-like casserole; perhaps a bit unconventional for a Thanksgiving side, but it would be a delicious addition to a holiday dinner nonetheless.

If you’re interested in seeing a few remakes of the classic holiday green bean casserole, here are some recipes from a few fabulous bloggers:

Fresh Green Bean Casserole from Brown Eyed Baker

Green Bean Casserole from Scratch from My Life as a Mrs.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole, the Grown-Up, Food Lovers Version by Domestic Fits

From Scratch Green Bean Casserole by Annie’s Eats

Homemade Green Bean Casserole (from scratch) by The Galley Gourmet

Huge thanks to Natasha and Laz  for hosting this event! Be sure to check out their blogs later this month for the 5 Star Makeover round-up to see how all the fabulous 5 Star Makeover bloggers remade this classic.

White Bean Casserole with Crunchy Onion Topping
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 to 10 side dish servings, or 4 main-course servings
Crunchy Onion Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-large onion, finely diced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more to grease the dish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices turkey bacon, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (16 oz) can no-salt-added cannellini beans or other white beans
  1. For the topping, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, salt, black pepper, and garlic, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until light golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in the parsley; set aside for now.
  2. For the casserole, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the turkey bacon and cook until crispy, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper; cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add the stock, tomato paste, and beans and bring to a boil; turn heat down and simmer (uncovered) until the veggies are tender and the sauce is thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F; grease an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with butter. Pour the bean mixture into the dish and top with the Crunchy Onion Topping; bake 10 minutes and serve hot.
To Reheat: Preheat oven to 350F; cover the dish with foil and bake until hot throughout, about 20 minutes.

Additional Serving Suggestion for the Crunchy Onion Topping: Use as a topping for any casserole, or sprinkle on top of salad or soup in place of croutons.

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  1. says

    I immediately thought ‘cassoulet’ as I started reading. I love what you did – I never thought of replacing the green beans. This looks absolutely delicious!

  2. says

    Your version sounds much better than the classic green bean casserole. I love the crunchy onion topping. I may have to try this out before the holidays!

  3. says

    Yum! I love this alternative to the typical green bean casserole! Full of fiber in the white beans, too, which I’m all for :) I can see this is a delicious side dish to a kicked -up Thanksgiving feast.

    Have a great week, Faith!

  4. says

    I’m glad you opted for the white bean version in this case… Despite being a nutrition powerhouse – protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates – the lowly legume continues to be underrated ;-). Plus, your dish just happens to look stunning! Love the inventive topping too. Beautiful recipe Faith.

  5. Caitlin says

    Oh my gosh, I just made this and it’s delicious. The bacon and bell pepper just make it so flavorful! As a college student, I’m always looking for easy food that is a great leftover, and has lots of veggies! Seriously, this is great.

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