Normally there’s a letdown after the holidays, but this year I’m relieved to return to normal life, if only for simplicity in the kitchen. When you count all the meal planning, shopping and cooking I did from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I think I logged enough hours to earn a reprieve until March!
To celebrate these days of no expectations (i.e., no formal occasions in need of fancy fare!), I sought comfort in a surprising place — a casserole. Even the word makes me laugh. But the dish, a classic one-pot meal, is quick to assemble, simple, and satisfying, and that’s nothing to laugh at. With a few tweaks from the way my grandmother wrote it decades ago, the recipe holds its own on any family’s table.
P.S. If you’re part of a farm share and were able to freeze green peppers and tomatoes last season or if you have cellared carrots or potatoes, this is a great way to use them up. Remember that peppers are on the dirty dozen list so buy organic.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 cups diced potatoes
3/4 cup wild or brown rice
3 cups thinly sliced carrots
2-4 green peppers, diced
28 ounces diced tomatoes
3/4 cup water or low-sodium broth
Preheat oven to 300. Brown the beef and onion in a Dutch oven, then salt well and add pepper to taste. Remove the beef and wipe out excess fat. Layer potatoes, rice, 1 1/2 cups carrots, half the green peppers, half the beef and half the tomatoes. Sprinkle with dried oregano and salt and pepper, then add remaining carrots, peppers, beef and tomatoes. Sprinkle with more oregano, salt and pepper, then pour 3/4 cup water or broth over the pot. Bake covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve with parmesan, if desired.