Italian Spinach Casserole

Italian Spinach Casserole

Italian Spinach Casserole

This casserole comes out scrumptious every time!  The night I created it, I just kept throwing more stuff onto the browned ground beef and the end result got a fantastic reaction from both me and my husband.  Very much like lasagna.  The leftovers freeze nicely, too!

The key to throwing something like this together easily is having the homemade spaghetti sauce at the ready in your freezer.  I try to keep a big batch frozen in smaller portions for just such purposes.  My own homemade meaty spaghetti sauce is what I used for this tonight.  Just made a 5X batch this week, in fact.

Because of the ricotta cheese, this recipe is not suitable until you get to the “more dairy” level of the Atkins OWL ladder.    There’s way too much cheese in this for Paleo folks, but Primal followers might like to try it on for size.

My spaghetti sauce has ground meat in it, so if substituting a sauce without meat, you will want to increase the meat called for by another ½ pound or your dish won’t be quite as good, in my opinion.    Get a load of the nutritional info for this recipe!  A very nutritious meal indeed. It was sooooooo good I’ll be making this one again and again!  🙂

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1 lb. 90% lean ground beef

2 c. my meaty spaghetti sauce (

12 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed out all moisture

1   6.5-oz can sliced mushrooms, drained

12 black olives, sliced

½ tsp. fennel seed, crushed

¼ c. Parmesan cheese

2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated

½ c. ricotta cheese

4 black olives sliced for top garnish

4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

VARIATION:  Use 1# Italian Sausage for the ground beef in this recipe.

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350º.  Brown the meat in a non-stick skillet.  Sprinkle evenly into a 8″x12″ greased casserole dish.  Crumble the well drained and squeezed spinach evenly over the top of the meat.  Sprinkle with all the Parmesan cheese.  Next spread the mushrooms and olive slices evenly over the mixture.  Now spread the spaghetti sauce over all without disturbing the lower layers too much.  Sprinkle with the crushed fennel seed and chopped basil leaves.  Dot the surface intermittently with the ricotta cheese and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top of the casserole.  Garnish the surface with the 4 sliced olives.  Cover with foil and bake at 350º for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for about 30 more minutes or until bubbly all over.  Allow to cool 5-6 minutes before attempting to dip it up or the servings won’t be so pretty.  It’ll still taste good, however.  Serve with a nice green salad and your favorite low-carb garlic bread.

NUTRITIONAL INFO:  Makes 6 servings, each contains:

530 calories

36.6 g  fat

12.77 g  carbs, 4.03 g  fiber, 8.74 g  NET CARBS

38.33 g  protein

500 mg sodium


13 comments on “Italian Spinach Casserole

    • Actually, what is compressed, blanched, chopped and in a frozen box or 12 oz. bag represents 24 oz. of fresh leaves (double). I would go more by visual volume. So subbing is difficult to say. I’d use enough leaves (raw) to make a nice layer on the meat…….maybe around 2 packed cups? Don’t know how much that is. You’ll need to recalculate the numbers if accuracy of nutritionals is critical, but there’s probably not that much difference to fret over the change. One of the reasons spinach is one vegetable I will buy frozen is it’s such good value for the money. That bag or box represents a heck of a lot of fresh spinach. Would boggle the mind if you saw the heap raw before it was processed into the bag/box. Would probably be of those monstrous grocery bags of fresh leaves after it is blanching, drained, frozen and THEN weighed. 🙂


    • Only sources for any water here would be your choice of spaghetti sauce (some more watery than others) or perhaps you didn’t squeeze the water out well enough from your spinach. You can put the spinach into a clean towel and wring it like a washcloth next time to facilitate getting ALL the water out.


    • Not really, Kathy. You’d just end up with a chicken spinach casserole nothing at all like this recipe. Peppers are not at all like spinach in flavor. The poblano flavor is the KEY flavor ingredient in this dish. I’ve lived on the east coast and Mom didn’t have trouble finding them in stores there. But you could try another pepper, like a mile Anaheim, or mild Banana pepper. Bell peppers will be way too different tasting for this. They say you can even get mild Hatch peppers, but those can be really hot if the store doesn’t specify.


      • I’m so sorry Kathy, I was in a time warp and thought I was replying to a post for Chicken Chile Relleno Casserole, which I had JUST been replying to moments before. I’m sure my back pain meds aren’t helping much either. Or maybe it was just a senior moment? 😉 Again, my apologies. Now to your original question. Yes, fresh spinach will work just fine. I always use it whenever I have it on hand. 🙂


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