I can't resist a challenge from BlogHer, so here's a variation on green bean casserole that steers away from all the cliches. You won't find cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans or fried onions here. This recipe calls for fresh, steamed green beans in a creamy bechamel sauce, topped with slivered almonds that end up being toasted during the baking process. It's not quite as quick as the traditional recipe, but it's arguably more delicious.
Fancy Green Bean Casserole
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound of fresh green beans, steamed
1 small package slivered almonds
Snap off the ends and pull the strings from the green beans, then steam until tender-crisp and set aside. To make sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the flour, mixing until smooth. Continue stirring for about 7 minutes until the mixture becomes a light golden color. Increase heat to medium-high and whisk in milk slowly until thickened. Bring to a gentle simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the flour has softened and loses any grittiness, 10 to 20 minutes, then season with salt and nutmeg. Combine sauce and beans and place in a greased casserole dish. Top with slivered almonds and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.