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Cross off another week in the lead-up to Thanksgiving. Are you getting nervous? Excited? Or still just procrastinating?

I’m in the latter camp. Soon I will be sending an email to my fellow family cooks and start asking what everyone else has it in their heart to make, such as side dishes and desserts, but I also like to have a couple of ideas to farm out on hand for my fellow cooks who just prefer to be told what to bring. Don’t we all get tired of being continuously creative, sometimes?

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How do you feel about green bean casserole? This is a dish my family never made, and which does not look very appetizing, so I didn’t try it until a couple of years ago. It’s OK, it definitely didn’t deserve to be ignored for so long in my taste testing, but I do not see this as a staple. At least not in the overly-salty, mushy green beans with oily fried onions on top version.

But that doesn’t mean green beans shouldn’t be included at Thanksgiving at all. For example, this green bean salad with cranberries and hazelnuts recipe looks pretty yummy. Here you blanch the green beans in boiling water for just a couple of minutes to make them more palatable, then you toss them with the cooked shallots, garlic and hazelnuts and a homemade vinaigrette. It will still taste fresh this way, and not so salty.

Second, my favorite way of eating green beans is to roast them, but don’t walk away from that oven. Depending on the thickness of your green beans, this can go rather quickly or slowly. This recipe also uses panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, giving it a little savory crunch to the now less-crispy beans.

And finally, to take green beans totally into left field, how about pickled green beans? This recipe starts with pre-cooked green beans (please, not to the point of mushy though), and brings them to life with garlic, chile peppers, dill and coriander. Plan to make these at least 3 days ahead of time though, so they vinegar and spices can work their way into the beans.

I think all three of these recipes are going to outshine green bean casserole. But if your family is more traditional, allow someone else to call the standard dish, and make a small batch of one of these to bring anyway.

Enjoy!

Cranberry hazelnut green bean salad

2 pounds green beans, rinsed, stem end trimmed

Kosher salt

½ cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 cup blanched hazelnuts or almonds, chopped

¾ cup dried cranberries

2 teaspoons honey

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½ cup apple cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender (they should be bright green but still very firm), 1 to 2 minutes. To test, pull one out and throw it into a large bowl filled with ice water; if you don’t like the texture, let them cook a few seconds longer. Transfer beans to ice bath to cool. Drain beans and transfer to paper towels; pat dry.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium. Cook garlic until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic chips to paper towels; set aside.

Cook shallots and hazelnuts in same skillet over medium heat, stirring, until shallots are tender and hazelnuts are beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl.

Bring cranberries, honey, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water to a simmer in same skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are plump and jewel-toned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with hazelnut mixture. Add blanched beans and toss until coated.

Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 8 to let the flavors meld. Add garlic chips and toss just before serving.

Roasted Parmesan green beans

1 pound fresh green beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; toss to coat.

Spread green beans on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes; stirring halfway through.

Spicy pickled green beans

4 cups leftover cooked green beans

5 clove garlic

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons peppercorns

2 dried red chile peppers

4 sprig fresh dill

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

2 cup distilled white vinegar

Combine the thinly sliced garlic, sugar, salt, peppercorns, dried red chile peppers, fresh dill, coriander seeds, and distilled white vinegar in a bowl with a pourable spout.

Divide the leftover cooked green beans between two 16-ounce jars with lids. Pour half the pickling liquid into each jar.

Screw lids on jars to seal, and shake each for 1 minute. Refrigerate for at least 3 days before serving; pickled green beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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