Creamed Beans with Dill Seed (Oregon, 2006, adapted)


Creamed Beans with Dill Seed is a simple yet elegant side dish with a unique and alluring flavor profile.  The recipe comes to me by way of Recipes of the Heart, a 2006 cookbook from my home congregation.  The author is a dear woman who still lives nearby and who I still see regularly.  She is only a few years older than I am but I suspect this recipe is much older than either of us, resembling some of the post-war recipes in my collection more than a late 90s potluck offering.  In keeping with the mid-century esthetic, it is convenient, delightfully creamy, and utterly delicious.

The recipe vaguely resembles a deconstructed green bean casserole:  French-cut green beans dressed up with white sauce and a little bit of onion.  A splash of vinegar adds some acidity, but the key ingredient is the dill seed, which adds a tangy peppery depth beyond what this dish has any business being.  I don’t want to oversell it – it’s still green beans and white sauce – but it’s the sort of side dish that catches you by surprise.  The kind that you take a small scoop of to be polite and then end up having multiple helpings.  I doubled the recipe to accommodate my large-ish family and we still gobbled it all up.

I’ve made one significant substitution from the original recipe:  replacing canned beans with frozen.  I’m not at all opposed to canned beans.  They were the norm in our house growing up and still find their way to our table from time to time.  I am, however, opposed to using the green bean liquid as an ingredient in my dinner.  I get that it’s just salt water with bean residue, but it looks like urine and smells like morning breath.  I wouldn’t drink it any more than I’d drink the remnant hot dog water.  I’ve used veggie broth instead of green bean liquid to give me some control over the salt content and a more desirable flavor, and then substituted frozen French cut beans for quick cooking.   Truth be told it probably makes little difference in the final product, but I just can’t bring myself to find out.

Most side dishes are only as strong as the entrée they accompany, but Creamed Beans with Dill Seed are an exception to the rule.  I served this dish alongside a better-than-it-should-have-been grocery store ham, but there’s enough going on here to dress up a simply seasoned chicken breast or pork chop.  There’s just enough of the creamy sauce left behind to paint your protein with, adding some color and depth to any unassuming protein.  Add a simple starch and you’ve got a full Sunday dinner.  Enjoy!

 

 

Creamed Beans with Dill Seed (Oregon, 2006, adapted)

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 15 min
  • Ready in: 25 min
  • For: 6 side dish servings
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a small saucier, melt the butter. Saute the onion briefly until it it sweats, then stir in the flour to form a blond roux. Slowly drizzle in the vegetable broth, stirring constantly, to form a thick gravy-like base.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients, including green beans, and stir gently until mixture is heated through and all ingredients are well-incorporated.

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