Looking for more easy, tasty ways to increase your veggie intake? A whole container of spinach melts into this cheesy, protein-rich meal that can be made ahead and enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Do you ever buy a package of fresh spinach, intending to whip up lots of healthy salads throughout the week…only to realize that said spinach is looking decidedly less fresh after a few too many days in the crisper drawer?
That’s precisely the reason I first created the following spinach-packed recipe. When cooked, spinach wilts anyway, and a full 5-ounce package will melt right into this protein-rich meal.
I’ve made this dish many, many times over the years as a great way to increase our consumption of dark leafy greens (sometimes I mix in kale, chard or even frozen and drained spinach). Everyone in my family enjoys it, and the prep-ahead convenience is always welcome.
We’ve eaten this simple casserole as many times for dinner as we have for breakfast. It’s an equally worthy grab-and-go lunch.
As mentioned, the copious amount of spinach in the recipe makes getting your daily dose of veggies a breeze. The first time I served it to my boys, I told them how I think of Popeye and his bulging biceps when I make things with lots of spinach. I vividly remember my mom using Popeye as an example of how to grow big and strong when I was young, and I guess the imagery stuck.
Hence the silly name. 💪
Of course, those dark, leafy greens have a stellar reputation for good reason. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Because they are also rich in fiber, they help to control hunger by making you feel full longer.
This meat-free dish is loaded with flavor and I usually prepare it precisely as described below. On occasion, however, I layer a half cup of finely chopped deli ham over the spinach. Optionally, cooked bacon or sausage could be added.
- 1 (5-ounce) package fresh spinach, roughly chopped (about 4 cups lightly packed)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella, sharp cheddar or Italian blend cheese*
- 2 thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts (I often substitute 2-3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 9 large eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup unflavored sparkling water or milk**
- ½ level teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (use ¼ teaspoon if using fine grain or table salt)
- Optional for serving: a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce or green Tabasco; a sprinkle of chopped avocado
Preheat the oven to 375℉. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish.( A 7×11 casserole dish or a 10-inch round pan will be a rough equivalents. For thicker pieces, use an 8-inch square pan. See next paragraph for a one-pan option.)
Heat a large, lightly oiled pan over medium heat. Add the spinach*** and stir until wilted and some of the moisture cooks off, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to the prepared dish and spread it evenly over the bottom. (If you have an oven-proof skillet with a 9- or 10-inch diameter, you can use it to wilt the greens and cook the casserole. The heat of the pan may reduce the baking time by a few minutes; check a little early.)
Evenly sprinkle the one cup grated cheese over the spinach, followed by the sliced onions and the Parmesan.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Stir in the sparkling water or milk and the salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the spinach/cheese mixture. Using a fork, gently work the eggs under the spinach and cheese. (Make-ahead tip: At this point you may cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Allow to sit at room temperature as the oven preheats.)
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the mixture is just set in the middle and becoming lightly golden. The 8-inch square pan or 9-inch skillet option will likely require 4-5 extra minutes. Take care not to overcook as eggs tend to turn rubbery. Precise cooking time will depend on the exact proportions of the baking dish and the individual oven. The slightest bit of undercooked center is perfect as the eggs will continue to cook for a few minutes once removed from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Leftovers may be gently reheated in the microwave or eaten at room temperature.
- *I often use mozzarella cheese in this recipe. I love Sargento’s traditional mozzarella which has a nice, thick cut, although a sharp cheddar or Italian blend are also quite nice. You could even use a Mexican blend cheese and stir in some chopped red pepper and/or black olives and then top with a spoonful of guacamole or chopped avocado. Sometimes, I add some shredded deli ham (2 ounces or ½ cup is enough to enhance the flavor). The recipe is delightful as is but also a perfect blank slate on which to build.
- **Recently, I’ve been experimenting with club soda or seltzer water (any flavorless sparkling water will work) instead of milk to create a little extra lightness to scrambled and baked eggs. If you don’t have any, milk may be used instead. If you have neither, don’t worry. I’ve made this recipe with no added liquid and it is still quite good.
- ***To quickly wilt the spinach, I often cook it in the microwave for about a minute in a vented bowl. Not that when microwaving the spinach, you will need to squeeze out the excess water. Tip: A microwave popcorn popper doubles beautifully as a vegetable steamer. It’s just a big bowl with a vented lid ᠆ inexpensive and ideal for quickly steaming veggies in the microwave…and making popcorn, of course!
NUTRITION INFORMATION based on 6 servings: Calories: 187 Fat: 11.9g Saturated fat: 5g Carbohydrates: 3.3g Fiber: 0.7g Protein: 17.4g
Kosher vs. table salt:
To be consistent, I almost always specify kosher salt when cooking and baking. Kosher salt has less sodium, teaspoon for teaspoon, than table salt because of its larger grains, and I think it offers a little more bang for your buck, so to speak. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend using ¾ teaspoon of table salt to every 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.