Wow your guests this Thanksgiving by updating a classic dish the Fair Trade way! This tasty side features a brand new Fair Trade Certified produce item: French Beans! These Fair Trade French beans beans come from very small farmers (generally 1/2 acre plots) in Guatemala. With Fair Trade, these small farmers have the opportunity to work with their cooperative & exporters to gain valuable education in agronomy & food safety practices. Now that's a win-win! Watch the video below to meet the farmers themselves and stay tuned for more news soon!
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 
Yield: 6 or more servings (depending on quantity of other dishes!)
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds Fair Trade Certified French beans 
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons panko or plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- Fair Trade Certified black pepper 
- Canola, safflower, peanut or other high-heat oil, for deep-frying
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 12 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
- Few gratings of Fair Trade Certified nutmeg  (optional)
- Fair Trade Certified black pepper 
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- Fresh herbs (dish & celery leaves) to serve
1 to 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved (see note about volume)
Make the crispy shallots: Mix shallots with gluten free flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Heat approximately a 1/2-inch of oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet until hot. Add onions, in batches (about a single layer) and fry until a light golden brown. Remove with a large slotted spoon, let oil drip off into the skillet, then place onions on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining shallots. Set aside.
Heat oven to 400F.
Prepare the beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook green beans for 5 minutes (for standard size) or 2 to 3 minutes (for skinnier ones). Drain beans, then place in ice water to stop prevent them from over cooking. Drain again, and set aside.
Make the mushroom sauce: Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them until they start releasing their liquid, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute one minute more. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time. Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in thyme and sherry.
Assemble and bake: Combine greens beans with sauce. Sprinkle crispy onions over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker.
Watch this inspiring video about how Fair Trade Certified French beans & snow/snap peas have changed the lives of farmers in Guatemala:
Stephen Thorlton is an accomplished chef with over 15 years of professional experience. Born & raised in New England, Stephen gained a strong appreciation for quality, sustainable, & seasonal ingredients at an early age. Since graduating from Johnson & Wales University, he has helped run the kitchens of some of the most respected restaurants in the US including Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY; Ubuntu Restaurant in Napa, CA; & most recently, the Michelin starred & James Beard Award-winning State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, CA. Follow him on Instagram @sthorlton.