Wholesome Homemade Spinach Casserole Recipes

It can be hard to get certain people to eat their vegetables, and spinach is one of the most finicky and difficult to put into a tasty dish. Most of the time, spinach leaves are relegated to salads. But what if you want something warmer and more filling but want to include spinach as an ingredient? This is where you can break out the casserole dish and bake an easy meal.

One of the best things to do for a good casserole is to put in Italian spin on the recipe by using Parmesan, garlic, an herb mixture, and cream cheese. You may even be able to get ricotta cheese to work, but this makes the dish reminiscent of lasagna or other pasta dishes. If that’s the effect you want, then it can work.

We’ll provide several variants of spinach casserole, but the underlying them is the same: vegetables, a binding agent or agents, and a top crust.

Tomato Spinach Parmesan Casserole

This recipe is an Italian-inspired take on the dish. You can enjoy a mixture of down-home and restaurant-level flavors when you pull this delightful mix from the oven.

spinach in a bowl

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Here’s what you’ll need to start cooking 12 servings, enough for dinner and leftovers:

  • 4 lbs spinach leaves
  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • ¾ cup butter or margarine
  • ? cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 cups cream cheese
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp basil
  • 3 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • Dash of garlic salt (if not using fresh garlic)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan-Romano
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar

Preparation

Start by bringing 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. After washing your spinach thoroughly, put it in, cover it, and allow it to cook for about one minute. A minute should be enough time to get the leaves to start wilting. You don’t want it to go further than that at this point.

Remove the spinach from the heat and drain it through a colander. Set the spinach aside for the moment. While the spinach is cooking, take the time to heat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the oven is heated, slice and drizzle the cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette, and put them in a non-stick casserole pan for 15 minutes, which is enough to extract the juices. You can also wait to apply the vinaigrette until later. It depends on whether you want the flavor infused through the whole dish or added to individual taste.

While your spinach and cherry tomatoes are cooking, prepare your sauce. Drop the cream cheese, butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, oregano, basil, parsley and other spices you may have added into a pan and cook at medium heat. Stir frequently so the butter melts and allows the other ingredients to combine.

Remove your tomatoes from the oven and drain excess juice. Mix in your spinach leaves and pour the garlic butter mixture as well. Stir well until everything is thoroughly blended. You might want to add an extra pat of butter or some more cream cheese if you want a little more creaminess to the dish.

Sprinkle your shredded cheeses on top of the spinach-tomato blend. Attempt to make it as random as possible, but you can also use slices of cheese in place of shredded. Just make sure there’s enough to cover the entire top surface of the casserole. You need a 16-inch pan.

Put the pan back into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes on the top rack. The casserole should cook in that time frame; you can check by sticking a knife into the center. There should be some slight resistance, and the cheese mixture should be browned. If not, bake for a little longer. Watch the oven carefully; cheese can burn quickly if you are inattentive.

Spinach Enchilada/Nacho Casserole

If Italian food isn’t your preference or if you want a little more spice in your dish, try out this Mexican-inspired variant. Not only do you get your spinach, but you also have plenty of peppers, onions, and spice to perk up your taste buds. You can add meat, but we’re sticking with a vegetable-based variant.

Here’s what you’ll need for this one, which also serves 12 people:

  • 4 lbs spinach leave
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color, sliced)
  • ½ cup cayenne pepper or red pepper blend
  • ½ cup taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • ? cup hot sauce
  • 2 cups corn tortilla chips, broken into small pieces (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup Monterey, shredded
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cup cream cheese

Preparation

Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put your pepper and onion into a pan, then cook until you can see through them. Use vegetable or canola oil; you’re not cooking stir fry and don’t need an oil with a high smoke point. Stir and flip the vegetables frequently while cooking so they don’t stick, unless you have a non-stick pan.

While you’re doing this, set your spinach to cooking in a boiling pot of water. You don’t want to cook it all the way right now, just enough to get the leaves moist. You’ll bake it the rest of the way later.

Mix your sour cream, cream cheese, cumin, hot sauce, and taco seasoning in a bowl. Stir vigorously; otherwise, the various compounds may not merge as they should. Set this aside when you’re finished.

Pour the spinach, pepper, and onion into the bowl with the cream cheese mixture. Stir it thoroughly, and do the same with the tortilla chips. You don’t have to use the chips, but they can add a little extra crunch to the dish.

Pour the entire mix into your baking pan, ensuring that it covers evenly. Sprinkle your shredded cheeses on top. As with the Italian variant, you can also use sliced cheese instead of shredded cheese if you want a complete coating.

Put the casserole in the oven and bake it for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so the cheese doesn’t burn. When you can plunge a knife into the casserole, and it meets some resistance, the dish is finished.

Extra Tips

In both of these dishes, you’re putting veggies at the bottom of the dish. When this happens, juice escapes, and you don’t want to have a lot of liquid in the pan. For this reason, you need to drain your vegetables frequently. If possible, use fresh spinach rather than frozen. If you must use a frozen vegetable, cook it first and drain the liquid from it.

Leftovers

Unless you’re making a potluck for a lot of people, it’s inevitable that this dish is going to leave you with leftovers. Therefore, you need to store it properly. Cover the dish with a layer of plastic wrap. If your casserole dish is too big to store, dish out individual servings into air tight containers.

Leftovers should last you up to three days but bear in mind that flavor may deteriorate. Whenever possible, eat your spinach casserole leftovers within two days

Unfortunately, these leftovers have a lot of cheese and will not freeze well.

Safety

Always wash your vegetables and other ingredients before cooking. Spinach has a sandy texture that only disappears when you wash off the leaves.

Also, when you’re working with dairy products like cheese, be sure to use them straight from the refrigerator. Bring and holding cheese at room temperature can cause food borne illnesses, so be careful!

Cooking Casserole

The vessel in which you bake your casserole has a bearing on how it turns out. Different materials heat up at different rates. Metal heats up fastest and transfers that heat through the food. Stone and ceramics, meanwhile, tend to heat more slowly.

You should avoid using metal when cooking spinach casserole. Most of the time, you store leftovers in the same pan as you use to cook. Metal can have a chemical reaction with your food and negatively affect the flavor, not to mention it can stick. It’s best to use a ceramic baking pan, even though it may take longer to cook.

What is Casserole?

casserole

Image by Holger Langmaier from Pixabay 

Casseroles, at their most basic, have three components. First is the base, which in our case are the cheese/butter/garlic mixtures. Second come the vegetables, which include the spinach and tomatoes for the Italian casserole and the pepper/onion mix for the Mexican one. Then, you have your toppings. We’ve used cheese for the toppings, but some casseroles have bread.

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered two recipes for spinach casserole. Spinach and cheese go together well, and you can mix them in just about any combination you can imagine. If you want to add protein, you could even add meat to the dish. Just make sure that you cook the meat partially through until you’re ready to introduce it to the pan, and drain the meat thoroughly.

A casserole is one of the most efficient dishes for dinner because you can often serve and store it in the same container as you use to prepare it.

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This