Green Beans W/Mushrooms & Bacon: Hold the cream please…

Creen Beans W/Mushrooms & BaconIs it weird that I can’t stop staring at this picture?  The way the beans nestle in the bowl; the way the mushrooms and bacon add contrasting textures.  I love the bright, verdant green against the stark white of the bowl and the soft brown of the antique wood table beneath…I just want to eat it!  I mean, I already did eat it, but I look at this bowl of green beans and I have the overwhelming urge to snitch the bean right in the middle.  Do you see which one I mean?  The really long one that gets lighter green at the end?  So good...

Quite some time ago, I briefly mentioned my aversion to green bean casserole.  I really love green beans and smothering them in canned, creamy glop is just a sin.  A SIN, I tell you!  I agree that cream of mushroom soup has its place and there are a few cans of it in my pantry at all times.  Namely so that I can make Tator Tot Casserole at a moments notice.  But when you go to all the trouble of peeling potatoes, brining a turkey, roasting carrots and broccoli, rolling and baking fresh biscuits, making your own cranberry sauce (try this one, or this one, or this one), cubing day old bread and chopping vegetables to make your Grandmothers traditional stuffing, why would you serve canned green beans coated in heavy cream sauce and covered with processed onions that are so preserved you could live off of them in case of an apocalypse?  Please tell me you wouldn’t do this.  Instead, I give you a healthier, more beautiful, more appropriate version of green beans to serve to your friends and family.  I serve them like this year round, but I though they were a suitable side dish to post about today, mere days from Thanksgiving.

And let me tell you…the flavor!  Oh my goodness!  It is of course reminiscent of green bean casserole, but it is light and crisp and earthy and fabulous.  The bacon gives it a smokey, salty bite that makes the whole dish kind of addicting.  This is fantastic in the spring and early summer when green beans are in season, but it is just as great when the frozen kind are all that are available.  Either way, the fact that it is simply uncomplicated is a welcome change in a holiday table that can be laden with heavy foods.

To make this dish even easier to get on the table, Thanksgiving day or otherwise, save a few slices of bacon out of your breakfast a day or two before you plan on serving it.  If you are making brunch for a crowd before the holiday, set aside the cooked bacon, wrap it well and stick it in the fridge.  If you are having company for breakfast or brunch after the holiday, brown up all your bacon a few days in advance and reheat the few pieces you need just for the green beans, saving the rest for brunch the next day.  A minute or two in the microwave and it will be be hot and crisp, just as though you just took it out of the skillet.  Also, you can cut up your fresh mushrooms a day in advance or buy pre-sliced mushrooms, saving you time and dishes on the actual day.  These things make it super easy to whip this up while your turkey is resting, and all the other dishes are taking up space in the oven.  See?  This is sounding better already!  I know the turkey is supposed to be the star of the meal, but who wouldn’t want to dive into this!  Bring on the veggies!
Creen Beans W/Mushrooms & Bacon One Year Ago: Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, Rum Pumpkin Pie, & Sweet Potato Casserole
Two Years Ago: Broccoli, Bean & Cheddar Soup, Marshmallow Pumpkin Dip, & Spiced Tea

Green Beans W/ Mushrooms & Bacon
This dish is just as spectacular without the bacon.  Even though I use it as more of a garnish instead of an actual ingredient, feel free to omit it completely to make it totally vegetarian and/or to cut down on salt and fat.  You can sub out olive oil for the butter too if you like.

1 1/2 lbs fresh or frozen green beans, steamed until crisp tender
8 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced
2-3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper

While the beans steam, heat a tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and brown until just tender.  Add the cooked green beans and toss with the mushrooms, adding another pat of butter if it seems a bit dry.  Taste for seasoning and add the crumbled bacon.  Serve.