Straight from the family recipe box! A cozy, hearty spinach and beef casserole with fresh mushrooms and melty jack cheese. You call it what you want, we call it Spinach Fandango.
A Retro Recipe
I don’t know the exact lineage of this retro cheese-topped casserole. The recipe card is in my Nana’s handwriting and it was the dish I frequently requested for my birthday dinners as a kid. Did you grow up with this one? A quick Google search tells me a lot of people from the midwest did.
I have slightly modified Nana’s original recipe, but the flavors and texture are the same. Instead of the canned cream of celery soup in the original, I substitute a tablespoon of butter and 3/4 cup of milk to replicate the moisture and texture. Instead of canned mushrooms I use fresh sliced button mushrooms. Otherwise, the rest reads exactly the same.
Strain the Spinach
One of the important steps not to skip in this recipe is to strain the liquid from the defrosted frozen spinach before adding it to the meat mixture. I take the frozen spinach and put it into a microwave safe bowl and cook it until it’s defrosted. Then, I press the spinach up to the side of the bowl to extract the liquid and then pour it off. Straining the water ensures you won’t have a watery casserole in the end.
Here’s what the mixture should look like once you’ve added all of the components together before the cheese topping:
and then add the cheese! Oh, and a note about cheese. Be sure to shred it yourself. Don’t buy pre-shredded. Pre-shredded is treated with potato starch to prevent clumping, but it affects the meltability factor. Take the time and shred your own.
Make It Keto
This dish can easily be made Keto friendly by substituting the rice with riced cauliflower. I did a side by side comparison of the version with regular rice vs with cauliflower and Mr. Simon actually preferred the cauliflower!
I used one 10oz package of frozen riced cauliflower and cooked it according to the package directions. Then, I pressed it up against the side of the bowl to remove the excess water and strained off that liquid. Again, just like with the spinach, I didn’t want a watery consistency to the final casserole. Too, instead of 3/4 cup of milk, I only used 1/4 cup of milk. Otherwise, the recipe is the exact same.
Hot Outta the Oven
Nothing makes me happier than pulling a hot casserole, bubbly with crispy melty cheese on top! I mean, how can you resist?!
I do recommend giving it a couple minutes to cool down after it comes out of the oven. Letting it cool about five minutes allows the filling to bind together so that when you slice it up, it comes out in nice squares.Print
Cheesy Spinach and Beef Casserole (Spinach Fandango)
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: main dish
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: American
A cozy, hearty spinach and beef casserole with fresh mushrooms and melty jack cheese. You call it what you want, we call it Spinach Fandango.
- 1 lb ground beef (80/20 or leaner)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 8 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 – 12oz packages of frozen spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup long grain white rice, measurement based on dry (or rice of your choice) prepared according to package directions.
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbs butter
- 3/4 cup milk or cream
- 8 oz shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, combine the 1lb ground beef, 1 diced onion, 8oz fresh sliced mushrooms, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 tsp oregano and cook over medium heat until meat is browned and the vegetables are softened and fragrant.
- While the beef mixture is browning, microwave the frozen spinach to defrost it. I microwaved it in a microwave safe bowl for 4 minutes. Then, remove from the microwave and over the sink, press the spinach up against the sides of the bowl to extract excess liquid and drain off the liquid. You can also use cheesecloth or a sieve if you prefer.
- Once the spinach is fully strained, add it to the browned beef mixture and toss to combine.
- Next, combine the rice, 1 tsp oregano, 1 cup sour cream, 1 Tbs butter and 3/4 cup of milk in a small bowl and stir until combined and creamy. If the rice isn’t warm and the butter doesn’t melt, you can microwave it for 45 seconds.
- Add the creamy rice mix to the beef and spinach mixture and then pour it all into a medium to large sized rectangular casserole dish and spread evenly to all sides.
- Sprinkle 8 oz shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese on top is melty and slightly browned.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes after removing from the oven before slicing.
Make it Keto: substitute one 10oz package of frozen riced cauliflower for the rice and cook it according to the package directions. Then, press it up against the side of the bowl to remove the excess water and strain off that liquid. Too, instead of 3/4 cup of milk, I only used 1/4 cup of milk. Otherwise, the recipe is the exact same.
Keywords: spinach, beef, spinach fandango, casserole, rice, gluten free, keto, mushrooms
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This looks delicious! I’ve followed your YouTube channel but have never checked out your recipes before. Looking forward to trying this!
Thanks for stopping by! New YouTube videos coming soon <3
Hello!! I’m wondering if you’ve ever frozen this casserole before. If so, any tips? We’re trying this recipe tomorrow and hoping to make one & freeze one.
Yep! If you plan to freeze a whole tray, take it to the step where you sprinkle the cheese on top, but don’t follow through with baking, freeze it with the cheese un-melted. Melted cheese doesn’t generally hold up well in the freezer and usually won’t re-heat well.
If I use fresh spinach should I cook it first and then add to beef or could I add it after washing?
Good question! I’ve never prepared it with fresh so I can’t say for certain, but if I was going to attempt it, I’d cook the spinach down first and then add it to the beef. If you do go with fresh, let me know how it turns out!
Thank you! I actually made it tonight and cooked the spinach down first. If using fresh you will need 10+ ounces but it was fantastic! Thank you so much!!
That’s awesome to know! Glad it was a hit <3
Thanks for the info! I am using fresh spinach and was hoping to see if anyone substituted!!!
I used fresh spinach and I just waited until the beef was browned and threw it in for a couple minutes, just long enough to make it wilted. Turned out great 😁
I did the same. I cooked the beef mixture and after it was browned, threw in a 9 oz bag of spinach and cooked till wilted. Next time I think I’d chop it up a bit.
Tried your recipe today for dinner it turned out awesome thank you so much.
So glad to hear! It’s definitely a personal favorite <3
Made this today. Followed the recipe exactly but it was very bland. Seems like something is missing.
Made this for one of my Ladies meetings and everyone loved it. Was wondering if you have ever substituted
Was wondering if you ever substituted chicken firvthe ground beef? What other changes would need to be made. Don’t want to use pasta.
Hi Rhonda, I’ve never done any substitutions on this recipe other than the swapping of cauliflower for rice. But, I bet ground chicken could be good too. I don’t think any changes would need to be made because of it since it’s not altering the moisture in the dish. If you try it out let me know!
This was pretty close to what I was looking for – I had spinach & mushrooms that needed using. I added a couple teaspoons of cornstarch (it seemed wet – I didn’t put too much effort into squeezing my spinach) and added a bit of parmesan cheese & a chopped tomato before adding the cheese.
This was so delicious! I was looking for something that I could call semi-healthy involving ground beef and spinach and this checked the box! I’m always guilty of overdoing it with the cheese, but that’s a me problem 🙂 Consistency was perfect and flavor was great! I’m normally a one-and-done with casserole servings, but with this bad-boy I went back for round 2 and so did the hubby. Also, I immediately sent this to my farm-to-table farmer best friend as she has a fridge full of ground deer meat at home and needs creative solutions to work through that. This will definetly be going on my short list for go-to meals for family and potluck events. Thanks for sharing your grandma’s Fandango. She continues to permeate 2022 with her delicious meals! I’m grateful for that as tonight, she saved my dinner dilemma!
I used cream of mushroom soup and fresh spinach!
I have made this several time and it’s delish! I used fresh spinach and added to the beef until wilted. Big hit in this house as it’s on my dinner rotation. Yummm😋
Question: making this today and am confused re the oregano. It appears twice in the instructions but I only see 1 tsp listed in the ingredient list. Do I use 1 tsp twice? Thanks! Looking forward to having this for dinner tonight.
I have been making this recipe for decades. Original recipe for me came from the Pink Parsley cookbook. The Junior League of Rockford, IL put out this cookbook in the 70’s I believe.
I add two eggs, scrambled into the mixing bowl ingredients. Sets up the casserole very well for cutting. Almost like a souffle.