Okay, so my recipe is actually eight layers, but who is counting when the meal is as tasty as this one is!
Seven-layer dinner (sometimes called “Shipwreck”) is really little more than a full dinner in a casserole and baked in the oven. I grew up (as I am sure many of you have) with this vintage meal served on a regular basis. The seven main ingredients are: 1) onions, 2) meat, 3) potatoes, 4) celery, 5) carrot, 6) peas, and 7) rice. Sometimes, it’s a six-layer dinner depending on what veggies I have on hand and sometimes it might be eight or nine layers thick. I like to add parsnip because it adds a level of sweetness. Sometimes, I will slice turnip very thinly and add it as well. Frozen corn also works in addition to the frozen peas or instead of. In that regard, it is almost a potluck dish!
It has probably been named “Shipwreck” because it can be made with pretty much any vegetables you happen to have on hand as well as different kinds of meats, such as ground beef or sausage and it is also an economical way to stretch the meat content. In many households, it can be made with what is on hand without having to go shopping and it doesn’t take any kind of exotic or hard-to-find ingredients. This is an old-fashioned hearty meal. Have you noticed that many of these old “stand-by” meals are becoming popular again?
On a regular basis, I tend to cook with a fair bit of seasonings and spices. However, this is one dish that I never add anything to it other than salt and pepper and the onion for flavour.
In my home, I grew up with this recipe being made with ground beef (we never used any other kind of meat in it) so, as April closes out as the month on PEI to promote local beef, I am sharing my recipe for this simple comfort food. The beef I used for this casserole is 100% Island beef and was purchased at KJL Meats, a local butcher shop in Charlottetown, PEI.
This is a great meal to make when you have little time for meal preparation and clean-up because all the veggies, the rice, and the meat cook together in the one casserole so there are no pots and pans to wash (bonus!) other than the dish it bakes in. And, your kitchen will smell divine when this is baking in the oven! If there happens to be any leftover, this meal carries over well and, in fact, the flavours seem to become even richer the next day when it is reheated.
1 medium onion
2 medium-sized potatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/8 inch thick)
½ – ¾ pound extra lean ground beef
½ cup celery
1/3 cup parsnips, thinly sliced (about 1/16 inch thick)
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
½ cup frozen peas
scant ½ cup Minute Rice
1 can tomato soup
1 soup can of water
Grease 2-quart casserole. Peel and slice onions to make first layer of casserole.
Add the layer of sliced potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add the layer of ground beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Add celery, parsnips, carrots, and frozen peas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle ingredients with rice. Cover casserole ingredients with can of tomato soup. Pour one soup can of water over top of ingredients (or, if you wish, you can mix the soup and water together and pour as one over the casserole ingredients).
Cover and bake at 350F for 1 ½ – 2 hours until vegetables are tender.
It is hard to plate this meal attractively but its taste more than makes up for its lack of presentation!
Suggested Serving: Serve with homemade mustard pickles and whole grain artisan bread.
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