Swap Out Green Beans For Asparagus To Upgrade Your Casserole

Tray of asparagus casserole
Tray of asparagus casserole - Solnuha/Getty Images

At holidays and family get-togethers, green bean casserole is a classic side dish often on the table. It's creamy and savory, and thanks to the often-present crispy fried onions on top, satisfyingly crunchy. Plus, it's fairly easy to put together, calling for only a few readily available ingredients.

Now, while green bean casserole is a delicious side, and maybe even a tradition, if you want to kick things up a notch, try swapping in asparagus as the star vegetable. Like the green bean version, you'll get a rich, creamy dish complemented by a crunchy topping. However, the asparagus adds nutty, earthy flavors to your dish, and when using it fresh and in season, it brings springtime vibes.

You can make this dish as decadent as you like by whipping up the sauce from scratch. Or, save yourself some time and use canned soup as a shortcut. Either way, you'll get a delicious twist on a classic side.

Read more: 12 Discontinued Store-Bought Soups We Aren't Getting Back

Selecting And Prepping The Perfect Asparagus

Close up of raw asparagus
Close up of raw asparagus - LanaSweet/Shutterstock

Since asparagus is a delicate vegetable, it's best to use fresh when making casserole. Canned asparagus is much softer than fresh, and your casserole could wind up mushy. You can play around with using different varieties of fresh asparagus. White asparagus, for instance, may have a milder taste, whereas Apollo asparagus has a prominently earthy profile.

When choosing fresh asparagus, try to find consistency with thin or thick stalks. Both sizes work, but the thin variety cooks faster, so you may need to reduce the cooking time. Look for stalks with a full bottom and tightly closed top. When it's prep time, snap or chop off the woody, hard bottom ends. You'll also want to cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces so that they're more evenly distributed throughout your dish. You can blanch the asparagus in water to better preserve color and texture, or use it raw.

Picking The Sauce And Adding Your Topping

Slice of asparagus casserole
Slice of asparagus casserole - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

With the asparagus now selected and prepped for your casserole, it's time to make the sauce. You can go with a homemade white sauce here, like béchamel, or play it old school and use canned soup. If you use canned soup, try cream of mushroom for an umami kick, cream of asparagus to ramp up the taste of the earthy vegetable, or cream of celery works too.

This might be an opportunity to jazz up your canned soup with fresh ingredients. Sautéed garlic and onions will bring more intense and savory flavors to your casserole, and fresh herbs like parsley and dill will brighten the sauce. A splash of dry white wine or a squeeze of lemon adds acid and depth of flavor. And don't forget the cheese! Parmesan, Gruyère, or even aged cheddar work beautifully with asparagus.

Finally, finish up the casserole with a crunchy topping. The classic crispy fried onions are always on point, but you could also go with crushed crackers, croutons, or breadcrumbs. Just be sure to add the crunchy topping near the end, for roughly the last five minutes, so it doesn't burn. Use a knife to check if your casserole is done, if the asparagus feels tender, it's time to take it out.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.