The traditional Thanksgiving meal is a giant spread that lacks for nothing. Unless you have a dietary restriction, in which case it might lack something you can actually eat.
There is likely to be flour lurking in the gravy, bacon in the brussels sprouts, chicken stock in the dressing and butter in nearly everything else. While you would think most people would be safe with cranberry sauce, there’s always the possibility that the host somehow got the idea to use honey instead of sugar, or dash in some soy sauce to give it that umami tang.
What every modern Thanksgiving table needs is one great dish that anyone can eat. It should be satisfying and hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but appealing enough to share as a side dish.
This golden-topped casserole of wild rice, white beans and seared mushrooms fits the bill.
The white beans, some of which are puréed, give it creaminess, while the wild rice adds a robust, chewy texture. The combination of mushrooms, leeks and fennel makes it autumnal. And plenty of sautéed spinach not only helps lighten the starchiness of the beans and rice, but also adds some necessary color.
Like many casseroles, this one is adaptable so you can tailor it to your tastes and your crowd. You can use gluten-free panko for celiac friends, or leave off the Parmesan in the topping for vegans and the lactose-intolerant. If you can’t get, or don’t want to spring for, the pricey wild rice, brown rice makes an equally nubby substitute. Cilantro haters can substitute basil.
One thing to keep in mind is that canned beans vary a lot in terms of salt content. If possible, find a brand that lists sea salt as an ingredient. These tend to have a better flavor than unsalted beans. But in either case, taste as you go, adjusting the salt as you see fit.
Conveniently for Thanksgiving (or any other dinner party), you…