With my retirement looming, I thought I would re-run the recipe that generated the most comments in this column (dried beef came in a close second). The recipe may surprise you, maybe not: Tater Tot Casserole.

When I printed this recipe and column back in 2012, readers remarked how they had forgotten about this old favorite, even in the office it created a buzz. Since then it makes a regular appearance in my kitchen.

Here's the column:

We had a semi-major newsroom discussion recently. The topic: Tater Tot casserole. Little did I know that when I mentioned in passing that I was going to make Tater Tot Casserole over the approaching weekend, it would cause such ruckus.

One co-worker, originally from New York, was dumbfounded by the idea of putting Tater Tots in a casserole — his fear was it would ruin a perfectly good, crunchy Tater Tot. “What a waste of good tots,” he said. When I explained to him the “tots” are placed on top and don’t absorb any liquid, it seemed to set his mind at ease, at least a little bit.

This led to a poll of who in the newsroom had heard of the once-famous casserole. Just as I figured, the West Michigan natives (and one Iowan) were the ones who knew of the fare. The California transplant knew of the casserole, but only via potlucks in the Holland area.

I am on a one-woman crusade to bring them back in vogue. It started when I offered to bring dinner to my niece (who had just had a baby) and her family. I wanted to bring something hearty and quick, something that could be frozen if necessary, and it had to be oven-ready. Not being much of a casserole maker, the Tater Tot dish was the quickest and easiest thing I would come up with, but it had been a long time since I had made it.

After the casserole was delivered, it was relayed to me the new dad commented it had been a long time since he had Tater Tot Casserole, and it brought back memories. I’m assuming good memories, because the casserole got eaten.

So, when I recently was again faced with needing a dish to share, Tater Tot Casserole popped into my head. I didn’t say this was going to be a barn-storming crusade, just a crusade. So here you go, in case you lost your recipe:

 

Tater Tot Casserole

1 1/2-2 pounds lean ground beef

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cans French-style green beans or Veg-all

2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 large bag Tater Tots

1. Combine salt, pepper and onion to ground beef. Mix well and pat in bottom of 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Layer on beans or canned vegetable of choice. Spoon soup over beans, spread evenly.

2. Top with Tater Tots. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until done.

Variation: Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese on top during the last few minutes of baking.