1/2cupcashews, soakedfor time-saving tip, see note 1
1 cupvegetable broth
For the casserole
1.5poundsfrench string beans, sliced in halfor regular green beans
1large shallot, dicedabout 1/3 cup
1 1/4cupsvegetable broth
2 teaspoonssoy sauce
1teaspoonwhite wine vinegar
1/2teaspoonsea saltor to taste
1 cupcrispy fried onions
Preheat oven to 350 °F and lightly grease a 2.5-quart (2.3 litre) casserole dish. In a large pot, bring heavily salted water to a rolling boil.
Make the cashew cream. Add the soaked cashews and 1 cup of broth to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
Make the string beans. Once the water is boiling, add the string beans and cook for 2-2.5 minutes (see note 2 if using regular green beans). In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath (I use a full tray of ice cubes and enough water to submerge the cooked beans). When the beans are done cooking, drain immediately and transfer the cooked beans to the ice bath.
Make the vegan cream sauce. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until turning translucent. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Sprinkle the flour over the shallot and garlic and stir until the shallots are well coated, then slowly whisk in the broth so the flour is well distributed and starts to thicken the sauce. Add the soy sauce, white wine vinegar and sea salt. Continue to whisk as the mixture thickens (total whisking time will be 3-4 minutes). Add the cashew cream and stir until well combined.
Assemble and bake the casserole. Drain the beans from the ice bath and add them to the skillet with the cream sauce. Carefully toss until the beans are evenly coated (I use silicone tongs to make this easier), then transfer the mixture to the greased casserole dish. Top with the crispy fried onions and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are starting to turn golden.
To soak cashews quickly, soak in boiled water for about 20 minutes.
To substitute regular green beans, blanch for about 4 minutes (or until tender, but still crisp) and proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed.
This casserole can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Assemble the casserole as directed, but leave off the crispy fried onions and don't bake. Store covered in the refrigerator. When your'e ready to bake it, top with the crispy fried onions and bake for about 25 minutes or until heated through and the edges are turning golden.