In my home vegetables are often served naked. I try (and occasionally fail) to ensure that my family has a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal, but most of my time and energy goes into the entree course. Many of these feature plenty of vegetables, but if the entree doesn’t have enough plant matter I feel like life’s too short to spend futzing around with an intricate side dish. So my family sees a lot of steamed and roasted green vegetables and, if I’m feeling fancy, a tossed salad. In my home there’s also a clear differentiation between starches and vegetables. If we’re being botanically precise I suppose that potatoes and the like are vegetables, but if I’m having meat and potatoes the meal doesn’t feel complete without a green veggie, or maybe some sliced tomatoes. Same with corn, and I’m kind of on the fence about peas.
Not so for the good women of Mount Zion Community Church. A full third of the vegetable recipes feature corn as the central veggie (which tracks for Ohio), and another third feature potatoes (which tracks for America). The remainder bury the vegetables in some sort of dairy or canned soup. Now to be fair, no one is going to submit a recipe to their church cookbook that reads “I cut up a head of broccoli and steamed it” or “dump a can of green beans into a pot and heat it up”. I imagine that the good families of Kenton, Ohio saw green vegetables much more often than their cookbook lets on.
Among the Mount Zion Cookbook’s vegetable dishes is the intriguingly named Connoisseur’s Casserole. It’s a cousin, or maybe a weird uncle to the green bean casserole. Still the same French cut green beans drowned in condensed soup and dairy, but with a can of corn thrown in for good measure. Instead of french-fried onions it’s topped with thinly sliced almonds and a buttery Ritz cracker crumbs. But you get the idea.
There are a half-dozen variants of this recipe on the internet with subtly different ingredient lists. Nearly all of them call specifically for jarred pimiento and “shoepeg corn”, which is a white, sweet variety that seems to be a thing in the South. I hadn’t heard of it until I stumbled upon this recipe, but apparently I just don’t visit the canned vegetable aisle often enough. The Green Giant brand is pretty easy to come by even here in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s certainly not necessary for this recipe. Sure, it’s a lighter color and a little bit sweeter but the subtlety is going to be buried by the cream and the condensed soup.
I’ve left the ingredient list below more or less intact from the original recipe. As with all condensed soup casseroles I strongly recommend using a reduced-sodium Campbell offers a “Healthy Choice” option. This is as much for your health as for your taste buds. If you’re feeling fancy you can use fresh or frozen veggies instead of canned, but it won’t make an appreciable difference. You’re going to taste the soup and the diary and get a little bit of cracker crunch – the vegetables are incidental.
For the casserole:
- 1 12 oz can white corn (shoepeg variety, if available)
- 1 16 oz can French cut green beans (low sodium, if available)
- 1/2 cup sweet onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup celery (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup dairy sour cream
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 10 oz can condensed cream of celery soup
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds (unsalted)
For the topping:
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Drain pimiento and chop finely. Allow corn and beans to drain for 2-3 minutes to remove as much liquid as possible. Combine with remaining caserole ingredients and pour into an 8 x 8 casserole dish.
- Mix the melted butter and cracker crumbs until crumbs are slightly clumped together. Sprinkle on top of the casserole.
- Bake 45 minutes until casserole is bubbly and cracker topping is nicely browned.