Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's Lunch: Green bean casserole revisted

I’ve always been a sucker for a traditional green bean casserole. I don’t care if the sauce is made from condensed mushroom soup or if the tin of fried onions is so shelf stable that it can be sold three years from now. It’s one of the flavors of the holidays.

It just wasn’t the flavor at our house. My mother faithfully made a green bean casserole for special occasions, but it looked nothing like the one I saw wholesome families dig into on TV this time of year. You know, the ones where the hostess doesn’t mind that three guests each brought one, 'cause gosh darn it, who can resist?

I’m not sure if my mother’s version was influenced by the many Italian families in my New Jersey neighborhood or if was a nouveau inspiration from one of the ladies magazine to which she subscribed. Regardless, our green beans swam in a hearty jar of spaghetti sauce along with shredded mozzarella cheese. The cheese to sauce ratio was so high that a spoonful could practically stretch across the table.

It’s a dish I never make but one that seemed perfect for today’s Let’s Lunch theme is non-traditional holiday foods. I upscaled it slightly, using fresh green beans instead of frozen ones, a large can of chopped tomatoes and a ball of fresh mozzarella cut into little cubes. It was pronounced delicious at dinner last night, but it lacked the gooey charm of the original. I’m including the cup of fresh ricotta that I’dd add next time.

Green Bean Casserole
2 lbs. fresh green beans, stemmed
1 28-ounced jar diced Italian tomatoes
½ jar Marinara sauce
1 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, diced and divided
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x12-inch casserole dish with vegetable oil spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add canned tomatoes (with juice) and Marinara sauce; stir to combine. Mix in half of the mozzarella cubes and the ricotta. Pour mixture into casserole dish, the sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. If desired, finish with a quick broil to brown the cheese. Serve with napkins.

NOTE: Let’s Lunch (#LetsLunch) is a Twitter-based virtual lunch club where anyone interested can join this monthly "lunch date." A topic is posted at least a month in advance, and all posts are made on the same day by a group of bloggers who range from amateurs to best-selling cookbook writers. Anyone can join at any time. Search for #LetsLunch on Twitter or Let's Lunch on Facebook.


  1. I'm not a huge fan of green beans, but I'm guessing the addition of the tomato sauce and All. That. Cheese. will have me changing my mind. I do love food where the cheese stretches :)

  2. My mother must have used two packages shredded cheese for the effect!

  3. I can't tell you how much I love this. Anything with stretchy cheese is right up my alley! Thanks for sharing...

  4. I just love green bean casserole and I love your version with tomato sauce. Must try this one soon.

  5. Sounds much, much better than the traditional version! Like a green bean pizza, yum!