Show your green side(s) on the Thanksgiving table

Light meat or dark, unadorned or smothered in gravy, most everyone can find something to like about a Thanksgiving turkey.

It's the sides that reveal the picky eaters among us.

One person can't stand nuts. Another despises even the thought of marshmallows gunking up the sweet potatoes. Yet another says she'll gag if she finds even a single raisin in the stuffing. Or mushrooms. Or celery. Or anything that doesn't come in a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix.

Fair enough. I, too, have my Thanksgiving food issues. Call me anti-Pilgrim, but I always steer clear of anything that resembles that traditional but God-awful combination of corn and lima beans known as succotash.

I have to admit, though, I'm always a little surprised when I hear someone doesn't like the holiday's most classic dish, Green Bean Casserole, which is about the Best Excuse Ever for stuffing your face with French's French Fried Onions.

"Can't you please come up with another green vegetable, or a different way to cook green beans," a reader begged me after a talk last week at Northland Public Library.

We want everyone to enjoy everything that's put on the table this Thursday, so we're happy to comply with the following recipes, which are not just tasty enough to become new holiday favorites, but also lower in calories. Which allows you a bigger slice of pumpkin pie or additional gravy.

For the freshest green beans, buy them loose instead of pre-packaged and keep them refrigerated in a plastic bag. Look for ones that are bright green and are firm to the touch, without blemishes.

Lemon Green Beans

PG tested

  • 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • 1 pound trimmed green beans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Grate the zest of 1/2 lemon, and squeeze 11/2 tablespoons lemon juice. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and return to pan. Remove from heat. Toss with oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice. Serve sprinkled with lemon zest. Serves 4.


Slow-Roasted Green Beans with Sage

PG tested

This just might be the best green bean dish I've ever tasted. Roasting them give the veggie a silky lushness that steaming or baking can't. I have the leftovers for lunch, on top of brown rice.

  • 2 1/2 pounds tender green beans, trimmed
  • 3 bunches scallions, trimmed with 1-inch of green tops still attached, halved lengthwise
  • 6 large garlic cloves, each cut lengthwise into 4 slices
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and season with pepper. Toss to evenly incorporate. Transfer beans to a large rimmed baking sheet.

Roast beans, stirring every 10 minutes, until wilted, shrunken, and browned at edges, about 1 hour. Serves 8 to 10.

-- Bon Appetit, Nov. 2012

Gretchen McKay:, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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