carmen’s capers (with no capers) casserole recipe
Sitting on the subway today I noticed a girl eating a full meal of pad-thai and I thought to myself, “I don’t know how she does it.” I’ve never really been one to eat on the run, chomping down on an apple while walking down the street or noshing on a slice of za from around the corner. Food trucks I can do — mostly because they are delicious — but I will still sit on the sidewalk or a nearby picnic table. And, I’ll probably have a sit down meal later.
For me, every meal is an event.
Even the simplest of fare, a soft boiled egg with toast while leisurely reading the weekend paper, slurping down a giant bowl of pho in front of the TV on a cold winter evening, or a quick weeknight bowl of pasta over wine and conversations with my fiancé, are all milestones in one way of another. The elementary act of preparing food is relaxing and makes the day melt away; I could dice peppers all day, grating cheese to shed stress with each pass, even the sound of the timer going off are all signs that relaxation is on the way.
For every milestone in my life there was food.
When my grandpa died, I told all my older cousins Mountain Dew lowers sperm count while sipping on a cup in the funeral home’s kitchen ( I was 13 and they still bring it up). When my poppy died, my aunt introduced me to the cheesy mini rice cakes I still consume on the regular and think of cuddling up on the couch with her munching away. A bottle of Crush cream soda sat in the cup holder in the car the first (and only) time Adam and I broke up. Honey garlic wings and scalloped potatoes mean February birthdays and all the Hearn women gathered around my mother’s dining table, and Carmen’s capers meant my birthday or a homecoming after I moved away from Newfoundland.
Maybe because I’m a little homesick, maybe because I’m craving pasta, here is the recipe for the ever-delicious-certainly-not-low-fat Carmen’s Capers (with no capers) from a Company’s Coming cookbook by Jean Paré from god knows when.
*Note: There’s no photo because this is a casserole and they rarely look good, especially this one, but it’s so freaking delicious it doesn’t matter, and it actually tastes better when it’s all mushed up.
- 1½ lbs ground beef
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ lb spaghetti
- 1 - 19 oz can canned tomatoes
- 1 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I use this measurement as a starting off point, I put as much cheddar, mixed with some parm, to get a nice good layer on the top)
- Brown beef & onion in a frying pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. Transfer to bottom of 2 qt casserole.
- Break up spaghetti for easier serving. Cook according to package directions. Drain.
- Layer spaghetti over meat.
- Break up any large tomato chunks. Pour over top.
- Spoon soup over tomatoes.
- Cover with cheese.
- Bake uncovered in 350F over for 30 mins until hot and cheese is melted. Cover halfway through cooking if cheese starts getting dry. Serves 6.