Caramelized Onion Green Beans with Parmesan

Thanksgiving is a bit like a wedding for many cooks.  Something old, something new, something borrowed… Wait, is there something blue at Thanksgiving? Oh well. Lots of folks have to have their favorites. The thing it’s not Thanksgiving without, right?  What is your “must have”? I hope it’s on your or someone else’s cooking list.


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This would be one of my must haves– my lighter take on Gratinèe of Cauliflower, a famous recipe from THE SILVER PALATE for what’s called “that cauliflower dish” in The New York Times. It’s also what other people at my Thanksgiving table request.

Cauliflower Casserole with Gruyere Cheese

And I like to have something new because, after all, I’m a cook and what does a cook do but look for new things to cook? (And that’s you, too, since you’re on my blog.) Not only that, but Thanksgiving is an upfront opportunity to add that something brand spanking new to your permanent repertoire or rotation. That’s where today’s green beans come in.

Green Beans are a fairly common Thanksgiving dish given your grandmother’s and my brother-in-law’s predilection for Green Bean Casserole, which I think I’ve made once or twice long ago and far away back when cars were made of iron and tvs were black and white. Instead, I’ve for years been stuck on my Lemon Green Beans, which you know well if you’ve read the blog for very long.

I make them because I love them. Sometimes someone will call or text and say, “What’s in those green beans you make?”  I rarely look for anything else in the green bean field and, if I do, I sauté a little garlic in butter, add that to the fresh beans, and top it off with fresh herbs and maybe a shower of buttered bread crumbs or some feisty sharp cheddar or crumbled blue cheese. That’s if I’m feeling fancy schmancy. Perhaps it was time for a change up because…

…while we were in France, or perhaps right after we got home, I read or heard someone say something about caramelized onions in vegetables and how wonderful it was. I had to try it in the haricots verts (skinny green beans) I buy whenever and wherever I can get them, most often at COSTCO. They sometimes look like this and come in 2 pound packages:

You can use whatever green beans you can find given it’s November. There are certainly no beans growing where I live, so it’s Fed Ex vegetables to the rescue.

The other night, which was a cold one (see dogs all snugged up at left) I cranked that oven up and roasted a 6 pound, $8 on-sale, organic Whole Foods chicken (425 degrees F Convection for 1.5 hours. No oil or butter, just s/p with cut up lemon and thyme inside. Tent with foil and take off for last 15 min.) and made these beans to go with it.  Bad photo of that monster hen taken with iPhone in a kitchen glare, but you get the idea. Use your convection oven if you have one; they’re pretty useful for large pieces of poultry or meat. I haven’t been terribly happy with my small baked goods results, but I’m game to try again.

 Directions from Butterball for cooking a turkey in a convection oven.

We were content. Very. You will be, too. Two pounds of green beans is a lot for two people; the leftovers went easily and happily. So skip that mushroom soup or its homemade equivalent. This is easy enough for nearly anyone, including well-supervised kid chefs, to stir up and bring to the party or to make for a healthy dinner tonight. Why wait? Full recipe below or the elevator version goes like this…

Sauté two thinly sliced onions in 2 tablespoons of butter until caramelized; chop them. Steam or boil 2 pounds of green beans. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper; add the onions and stir. Shave off some big peels of Parmesan using your vegetable peeler for garnish.

Ok. You’ve got it now. Try this:


serves 8-10

  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 pounds trimmed fresh green beans or haricots verts
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a peeler into thin 1 – 2-inch long pieces

MAKE THE CARAMELIZED ONIONS: Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add onions; season with a pinch each salt, pepper, and thyme; toss.  Cook, stirring regularly, until medium-dark brown–at least 45 minutes. Lower heat or add a little broth or water if they’re browning or burning too quickly. Or follow this plan: How to make caramelized onions from Bon Appetit. Chop into 1/4-inch pieces by hand or in food processor and set aside.

COOK THE GREEN BEANS WHILE THE ONIONS CARAMELIZE :  Fill an 8 or 10-quart pot 1/2 or 2/3 full of well-salted and peppered water. Cover and place over high heat until boiling. Add green beans and cook until done to your taste. Skinny green beans are done in under five minutes. Older, thicker beans could take a lot longer. Drain well. Click here for more info about cooking green beans.

TOSS BEANS WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND SERVE WITH PARMESAN:  Return beans to pot and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil; season well with salt and pepper to taste. Add reserved chopped caramelized onions and toss well with tongs. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time.  Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature garnished with peels of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  These beans are also tasty snacks cold right out of the fridge.

Cook’s Notes: I don’t cook frozen green beans unless I froze them myself, but if that’s what you have available, do try them here.  If you’re a garlic lover, stir in a couple of cloves of minced garlic into the caramelized onions a minute or so before they finish cooking. Like spicy? Sprinkle a bit of ground cayenne along with the salt and pepper.

{printable recipe}



Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with New Potatoes and Parmesan







Make a new Thanksgiving dish; it needn’t be this one.

Thanks for reading More Time and for cooking with me! Have a wonderful time being grateful and enjoy your abundance, whatever it is,



9 thoughts on “Caramelized Onion Green Beans with Parmesan

  1. Good idea: PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS with New Potatoes and Parmesan . I remember walking thru the sprout fields to get to the beach in Santa Cruz, very nice.

  2. Pingback: Lemony Green Bean and Goat Cheese Salad | More Time at the Table

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