Fresh greens beans, juicy sauteed mushrooms and shreds of browned onion bake in a creamy sauce. Do the beans up to a day ahead, saute the mushrooms up to 3 hours ahead. Assemble everything and bake it off when you need it. Use organic ingredients if possible
The Bonus - A Variation: Lynne's own recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup. This recipe makes a delicious homemade cream of mushroom soup — make it even 2 days ahead. Cook the beans and onions as directed below. Just blend together the beans with half the soup and bake. Serve the other half of the soup as a special treat on another evening.
To make the casserole:
Drop the green beans into the boiling water and boil, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes, tasting for doneness. Beans should be just tender. Drain in a colander.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet (preferably not non-stick) over high heat. Drop the onions into the pan and stir, cooking 4 minutes, or until browned. Turn off the heat and quickly lift the onions out of the pan with, leaving the oil behind. Drain them on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 and grease a shallow 1-1/2 quart casserole. Reheat the oil over high. Stir in the mushrooms, cooking until they are browned. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the wine, bay leaves, and cloves. Boil off most of the wine, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Stir in the half and half. Turn heat to medium and simmer a few minutes to thicken slightly.
Remove the bay and cloves. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir in the beans. Turn everything into casserole and lightly cover with foil. Bake about 20 minutes to bubbling, top with onions and bake another 3 minutes. Serve hot.
To make the soup:
In a 12-inch skillet heat the butter or oil over medium high heat. Quickly saute the mushrooms until golden, adding half the onion and shallot to the pan about halfway through cooking. Season with salt and pepper and add the wine. Boil off two-thirds of it, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Set aside.
In a 4-quart sauce pan melt the second measure of butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour, cooking about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth until smooth. Add half the mushrooms and their liquid along with the potato. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes, partially covered, or until rich in flavor with no raw flour taste. Puree in a blender, return to the pot and stir in the cream and remaining mushrooms with their liquid. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes, taste for seasoning and serve hot.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.