June 24, 2016

Summer get-together perfect 1950s 7-Layer Casserole


Now, I'm the first to say that the words "summertime" and "casserole" are not always one that I instantly group together, but there's a very practical side to large, substantial dishes of the casserole variety during the sunny, sizzling hot months of the beautiful season that we now find ourselves in again (huge "yay" about that point!).

First and foremost, unless you're serving a large crowd or making a very small quantity of food, most casseroles will last for at least a couple of meals, meaning that you don't need to heat up the oven two (or more) days in a row. Many are also fantastic served cold, perhaps with a fresh salad, some lightly steamed veggies, or something such as corn on the cob that you whipped up on the grill.

They're also great for summertime barbeques, picnics, and other such get-togethers where you're feeding a hungry crowd who are keen on something both visually appealing and taste bud pleasing, to boot.

As well, you don't need to go in for the richest, heaviest, most starchy casserole ever invented either. Leaning heavily on vegetables and/or lighter protein sources (chicken, turkey, lean ham, shrimp, etc) can really help to make a casserole into an excellent warm weather meal choice.

Today's example hails from a 1950s Hunt's Tomato sauce ad and is pretty as a picture!



{Hearty, but not per say heavy, this delightful mid-century 7-Layer Casserole makes for a splendid summertime dish, especially if you're planning, or attending, a group get-together and want to feed a hungry crowd. Vintage recipe image source. Click here for a larger version of this recipe.}


Relatively budget friendly (especially considering how many servings it yields), vibrantly attractive, and downright delicious sounding, this great 1950s 7-Layer Casserole can be altered as desired. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can skip both meats and use a vegan ground meat and bacon substitute here instead or simply forgo them entirely, perhaps adding in two more layers of other veggies that you enjoy (black olives, for example, would be great here, IMO).

There isn't too much in the way of seasoning here, so I'd definitely introduce some. Basil, oregano, (fresh) parsley, chives, chervil, paprika, and chili powder, flakes or fresh chillies would all be great ways to inject even more flavour into the mix. You could certainly also top it with some bread crumbs, crumbled crackers or pretzels, French’s onions, slivered almonds, and/or cheese, if the mood strikes.

So much of the beauty and appeal of casseroles lies in their versatility, as well as their classic standing on dinner tables the world over. The fact that many freeze marvelously well, doesn't help either - especially, again, when the temps are off-the-charts warm and you not, in the slightest, in the mood to cook from scratch.

As we embrace summertime, I hope that this season will give you many awesome opportunities to celebrate with your favourite foods, perhaps even including a classic 7-layer casserole or two like the one featured here today. I'm already planning a version of it that I can safely eat for some of our family events in the coming months.

Wishing you all a stellar first weekend of the season and a truly incredible, fun filled summer ahead!

46 comments:

  1. Wow, this is too funny! Years ago I used to make this because it was just throw everything in the casserole by layers, no browning the ground beef first. And I omitted the bacon. I can't imagine how greasy it would be with the bacon as sometimes it was too greasy just with the ground beef.

    Honestly, I was making this probably once a week one year about 15 years ago. Nothing too exciting about it, just a simple and hearty casserole.

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    1. Your version sounds terrific, too, Dawn. Yum-yum! I made a lot of casserole and similar dishes when I was a single, and then newly married, gal. They were usually easy on the pocketbook and just helped to create an even more cozier sense of home.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment. I hope that you're enjoying a sunny, beautiful tail end of June.

      xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  2. Oh, boy, you are making me hungry. :) This does sound good, although things would have to be multiplied to feed all of my family. :) I am definitely one of those people who prefer to cook easy meals both in their creation and in their clean up.

    Sarah
    www.sewcharacteristicallyyou.com/blog

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    1. That's one of the joys of casseroles for sure - most of them can be multiplied many times over and not end up any worse for wear because of it. It's wonderful that you have such a large family to share your meals with.

      Many hugs & thanks for all of your great blog comments this month,
      ♥ Jessica

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  3. I love casseroles ...just got a new cookbook full of them and with a huge bunch of people visiting with me during my birthday week, I will be making plenty of them.

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    1. That sounds both delightfully fun and wonderfully tasty. I hope that each one turns out splendidly and is a huge hit with all those seated around your table.

      Big hugs & happy birthday countdown wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  4. That looks so good!! I absolutely love midcentury casserole recipes! You definitely gave me an idea for dinner this weekend. Looks like a great dish for fall and winter gatherings as well. Thank you for posting. XOXO.

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    1. Same here! They're hearty, filling, sometimes quite creative, and evocative of my childhood, to boot (I grew up in the 80s and 90s, but was often served dishes that were popular during the 40s - 70s, as they're what my mom, aunts and grandmas had come of age with and still enjoyed making).

      My pleasure, dear April. Thanks so much for your great comment.

      Big hugs & happy start of summer wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  5. How would this be with veggie mix instead of the ground beef?

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    1. Great question! Based on my personal experience using vegetarian/vegan ground meat substitutes, they lend themselves superbly to casseroles, shepherd's pies and other similar sauce/juice/moisture rich dishes.

      Hope that helps. Happy cooking!

      ♥ Jessica

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  6. I've never made a casserole before, but it is on my to-bake list! This one sounds really yummy :)

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    1. Doesn't it though? I think this one would be a great introduction to the culinary arena that is casserole cooking. In general, casseroles are quite easy and straight forward to make. They're versatile, forgiving (if you have too much or too little of a certain ingredient, I mean), and usually reheat really well, too, so definitely something I recommend giving a spin. :)

      Big hugs & happy cooking,
      ♥ Jessica

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  7. My Mom was a casserole connoisseur, probably because she was married with kids in the early 60s. She also had a way with jello and instant pudding. sigh ....

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    1. That's awesome! One of my grandmas, who was a young homemaker at the same time as your mom, excels at casseroles, too - her way with those topped with potato chips practically brings me to my knees just thinking about her tasty one-dish meals. :)

      Big hugs & joyful start of summer wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. If you ever run into the "Oriental Chicken Casserole" that's made with left over chicken, Chow Mein vegetables, and Chinese crunchy noodles make it. It's divine.

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    3. It really is! I can remember having it a few times growing up. Thanks for the reminder about that classic mid-century treat. I'll have to play around and try to come up with a GF version (perhaps rice crackers in place of the crunchy noodles?).

      I hope you guys are doing well and enjoying a sunny, fabulous tail end of June, sweet Franny.

      xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  8. I love seeing retro recipes. It reminds me of my grandmother, whom I was so very close to before she passed away a few years ago. Thank you for sharing! It meant alot to me and warmed my heart.

    xo Miss Betty Doll

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    1. You're sincerely welcome, sweet dear. Thank you for sharing the beautiful memory of your grandma with me/us.

      Oodles of hugs & happy end-of-June wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  9. Miam miam :) is all I can say! I love layered dishes, and this mid-century casserole seems to be so yummi! It can be that summertime and casseroles aren't the best matched words :) but the taste must be! And retro recipes are healthier than the ones today, I believe! I love them, because I do think that things were nicer before - not only fashion, but food and traditions too - people used to be friendlier and more polite, somehow - don't know whether I am right! Hugs and regards, dear Jessica!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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    1. Same here! Casseroles and similar dishes are some of my favourite comfort foods ever, too (I especially love those British classics, Shepard's and Cottage Pies, as well as lots of homey North American versions, too - and how can you beat the beloved standard that is mac & cheese?).

      You know, I swear, I've had that thought before, too. Sure, there are exceptions, but in general, they had fewer processed ingredients, often focused heavily on veggies, and were designed (on paper at least) to be served up in smaller portions than your average heaping helping these days.

      I do think that you're right and the element of politeness and civility is one of my favourite elements of the past (again, there were exceptions there of course and not everyone in society was treated as kindly or fairly as they, hopefully, are nowadays).

      Many hugs & thanks for your wonderful comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  10. Oh! really interesting, then if you say the magic word "picnic" I take notes quickly! Instead a magic phrase is: "can serve for two meals"! At the end here it's very hot, suddenly, opaque and sultry air, I'm already k.o. .. I hope that the season once again be piuù balanced, but a solution is in the mountains and leaks in the meadows near the woods, take a picnic to cool and then read a good book and take a stroll are all that I want to do in my free afternoons. I will take a cue from this recipe, while I wish you a peaceful and happy weekend!

    serena

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    1. I love the idea of taking a cue for how to live your summer from a vintage recipe, Serena dear. That's a splendid idea and one that certainly appeals to me as well. I hope that this season is everything and more you're wishing it will be and that you get plenty of time to take things easy, have picnics, and enjoy great food in the process.

      Many hugs & happy Sunday wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  11. You make some great points about casseroles being summer friendly. Usually turning on the oven is the last thing I want to do in the summer but considering how you can stretch it for a couple of meals it definitely wouldn't be a bad idea to pop on in the oven during a not as hot day. :) Thank you for recipe too. This one sounds delicious!

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    1. Why, thank you, my dear. Precisely! Plus, if you're willing to really slog it out with the oven, you can make numerous casseroles or other oven dishes one after another and freeze those that you won't be eating pronto to see you through the coming sweltering hot weeks (I like making big batches of light, yet filling, soups, for this same recipe).

      My pleasure! I really hope you enjoy it, if you give it a spin.

      Oodles of hugs coming your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. I'm so tempted to try making this! I love that you don't have to cook anything first. I'm all about throwing something in the oven then working on something else :)

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    1. Exactly! It's akin to crock-pot cooking in that way, and really does suit the relaxed pace of summer superbly.

      I hope it turns out splendidly for you if you do opt to give this fun mid-century casserole recipe a spin.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. Amazing! I'm making this for dinner tonight. I will share a picture with you of how this turns out. Fingers crossed!!

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    1. You're a total dear, Christina. Thank you! I really look forward to that and am tickled pink to know that this charming vintage casserole recipe spoke to you.

      Happy cooking and eating!

      xoxo ♥ Jessica

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  14. I do like the idea of a casserole in the summer. I love foods that you can prep in advance and pull out of the fridge all week long, so this makes perfect sense to me. I'd definitely up the veggies, and maybe sub out the meat for some kind of bean (maybe navy beans or chickpeas), but this sounds like a great starting point for weekday meals.

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    1. Same here - and all the more so because I'm rarely able to follow a "normal" sleep/wake cycle, so that means that Tony and I are frequently operating on at least somewhat different schedules. Having reheatable meals like in the fridge means we can each have a hot meal, even if the other isn't awake to make one and/or eat it together. I think a version with beans, chichpeas or even lentils would be awesome (and have a subtle chili vibe, to boot). Great spin on things!

      Many hugs & happy tail end of June wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  15. I'm not sure I've ever made a casserole before, though there's always a first time. I could probably use textured vegetable protein or tempeh to substitute for the meat. Since I'm not an onion person, I could probably substitute mushrooms.

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    1. Yes, absolutely - or your favourite beans/pulses instead of meat, too. Do you like leeks or shallots? Either would go wonderfully here, I think, as would green onions or chives, if you're a fan of such. Mushrooms always rock and would be a great addition to this hearty mid-century dish.

      Many thanks for your lovely comment. Have a fantastic last week of June!
      ♥ Jessica

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  16. This is so cool, I am totally going to make this
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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    1. That's wonderful to hear, Laura! I'm happy to know that this tasty mid-century dish appeals to you.

      Thank you very much for your visit and great comment.

      Have a splendid Canada Day countdown!
      ♥ Jessica

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  17. That looks like a 7 layer dish I make. You bake it with cream cheese, beans, onions, jalapenos, black olives, salsa, shredded cheddar. It's a yummy hot dip for tortilla chips. But I'm liking the idea of adding corn and BACON! Bacon makes everything even better :)

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    1. Huge yums! Your version sounds fantastic, Theresa. Thank you very much for sharing it with us. Agreed big time! Bacon, at least in the eyes of those who enjoy eating (red) meat, has to be one of the best foods ever invented in all of human history.

      Big hugs & happy 4th of July countdown wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  18. Casseroles (and cooking in general) seemed to be fairly bland back in the 50's - "sprinkle with salt and pepper" being the only ingredients to season the dish above. In Australia our food was very bland until the arrival of our migrants who brought garlic, olives, herbs other than parsley etc.and opened our palettes to amazing flavours. I love your suggested additions of herbs and spices. Thanks for sharing, Jessica. :)

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    1. Thank you very much for your lovely comment, Elizabeth. Definitely; objectively, often less use of bold flavours and creative spice/herb combinations in mid-century cooking for sure. In part because many folks simply didn't have access to the global melting pot of ingredients that we have today. It's wonderful how food has evolved in this respect over the past few decades - and that we can now avail of so many amazing ingredients to further jazz up, if so desired, old school recipes.

      Many hugs & happy tail end of June wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  19. usually i make casseroles in winter - but your post inspired me to make one from left over veggies and "letscho" - in tomato sauce canned peppers from hungaria - and goat cheese on top!
    thanks jess!! xxxxxxxx

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    1. That sounds absolutely scrumptious, dear Beate. Hungarian peppers and some lovely goat's cheese - total yum! I might just have to give a spin on that a go myself this summer. :)

      Sending tons of hugs & happy start of summer wishes your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  20. I like casseroles, and this one sounds interesting. I've not had one like this with corn and rice together with tomato sauce. Thanks for sharing! Will look into this recipe. :) /Madison
    Summer Styling

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    1. My pleasure, Madison dear. I hope you adore it, if you give it a spin. Corn + rice + tomato sauce are also awesome in wraps, and as the base for a jazzy Spanish rice, if you're a fan of that ingredient combo.

      Have a stellar summer!
      ♥ Jessica

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  21. Another one of those fantastic vintage recipes! Thanks for sharing, Jessica. A big hug, Ann xxx

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    1. My absolute pleasure, dear Ann. I'm happy to know that you enjoyed this fun, cheerful vintage casserole recipe. I really look forward to sharing a handful of other delicious mid-century dishes here as the summer progresses, too.

      Scores of hugs & joyful summertime wishes coming right back at you!
      ♥ Jessica

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  22. I really like the layers, such a charming idea and great for serving guests, since it is so visually appealling. Thank you for sharing it, dear. It goes right to my Pinterest board. :)

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    1. You're very welcome, sweet Sanne. Thank you very much in turn for pinning this recipe. I really appreciate it and swear, I get the biggest rush when I know that someone has pinned something from my blog. It's so fun to think about whatever that image/post is being spread even further afield to others who might not have heard about, or regularly follow, my site.

      Sending oodles of hugs & the happiest of wishes for July your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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