The word "casserole" often sends most clean eaters running. Typically, casseroles are laden with unnecessary amounts of dairy and refined flours, hiding a few overcooked vegetables. This vegan green bean casserole is the exception to the rule. It is filled with fibrous vegetables swimming in a vegan-friendly, gluten-free and nutrient-rich sauce that gets its creaminess from cashews. The inclusion of these cleanse-friendly ingredients by no means sacrifice the richness of a traditional casserole. It's perfect to serve to any crowd.
A Cheesy Topping, Minus the Cheese
Nutritional yeast is a superhero ingredient. Not only does is pack a dense flavor that mimics the cheese casseroles are famous for, but it is full nutrition like B vitamins and protein. Vegan diets can lead to B vitamin deficiencies since much of our intake is from animal sources. Nutritional yeast is an excellent addition to any diet to help prevent deficiencies. Nutritional yeast also includes benefits like increased energy and a boost to our immune system. In addition to using it in this vegan green bean casserole, try sprinkling it on roasted vegetables or brown rice!
Green Beans for Heart Health
Green beans are the perfect choice for this casserole. They maintain their firm texture through the cooking process, so you don't end up with a soggy dish. In addition to their ideal texture, they boast a long list of benefits to our bodies, and specifically to our hearts. Like many green vegetables, they are high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant found in plants. Flavonoids have been shown to be anti-thrombotic, meaning they can reduce blood clots and help prevent heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.
Vitamin D from Mushrooms
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin and is responsible for increasing the absorption of many micronutrients like calcium, iron, and magnesium. Mushrooms (that have been exposed to light) are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D. Eating adequate vitamin D will help prevent chronic diseases like cancer and ensure strong teeth and bones. Mushrooms also contain selenium, which helps reduce inflammation, prevents sunburn, and lowers your risk of skin cancer. You should also supplement with vitamin D, as most people are deficient in this wonderful vitamin.
Healthy Fats for Satiety
Both cashews and olive oil contain heart-protecting monounsaturated fats that will help prevent heart disease and keep you full. As the stress of the holidays kicks in, it's important to choose healthy fats to sustain us after we've eaten and to help signal to our brain when it's time to stop eating. Choosing fats like olive oils and cashews (or other raw nuts) will ensure we stay full and satisfied.
1 cup cashews, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1 cup filtered water
1 pound green beans
8 ounces crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste
Prep green beans. Cut the stems off of your green beans, then cut them into uniform bite-size pieces (about 1.5 inches in length).
Cook green beans. Bring a large pot of water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil. Add green beans and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately strain and add green beans to an ice bath to stop cooking.
Prep your other ingredients. Slice mushrooms. Chop shallots. Smash and remove the skins of your garlic. Cut your lemon in half and juice 1/2.
Prepare the cashew cream. Drain and rinse your cashews. Add your cashews, 1 cup of filtered water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt/pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallot and red pepper flakes, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan. Cook for 1 minute then remove the pan from heat.
Add in your cashew cream and green beans and stir to combine evenly.
Preheat oven to 350. Pour green bean mixture into an oven-proof pan. Finely chop the remaining cashews and mix with nutritional yeast.
Sprinkle mixture over casserole and bake for 15 minutes.
Note: You can complete steps 1-6 the day before serving, and bake this green bean casserole right before serving.
Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble.