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
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