Casserole, hotdish, or whatever else you want to call it, is a meal that’s undeniably delicious, comforting and able to satisfy even the hungriest of appetites. But unfortunately for my skinny jeans, it’s not necessarily the healthiest dish out there. So today, I’ve giving this upper Midwest staple a makeover. I’ve lightened up the ingredient list. And I’ve added a fall twist by incorporating pumpkin purée. It’s a new take on a classic that I think you’re really going to love. And I bet after just one bite of my savory pumpkin, mushroom, and spinach tater tot casserole, you’ll be hooked!
I can only remember eating tater tot casseroles a handful of times in my life. So I had to do a little bit of research when it came time for me to develop this recipe. The basic formula, which is often assembled and cooked in a single dish, consists of a meat, canned soup, canned or frozen vegetable(s) and a starch. So in my effort to re-vamp this dish, I replaced the meat and canned/frozen vegetables with hearty brown mushrooms and fresh spinach, onion, garlic and thyme. And I used a combination of pumpkin purée and vegetable stock help to create a base that would bind everything together.
The tater tot topping seemed kind of untouchable in my eyes. And hello, tater tots are DELICIOUS so why would I want to mess with that?!?! They provide the perfect crispy, crunchy final layer to this dish. So much so, that I had a hard time not picking them all off and eating them!
To keep the dish count low, I used an oven-proof skillet to first sauté the vegetables and create the base on the stovetop before adding the frozen tater tots and transferring everything to the oven. If you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, simply cook the base layer in any skillet, then transfer it all to a greased casserole dish, arrange the tater tots on top and bake until golden and bubbly.
There is no added wheat or dairy products in this tater tot casserole recipe. So as long as your tater tots are both vegan and gluten-free (just check the labels!), you’ll have a dish that can feed a wide range of dietary needs!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups sliced brown mushrooms
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 6-7 cups frozen tater tots
- Pre-heat your oven to 425°F.
- Warm the olive oil in a 9- or 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onions, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until they are softened and slightly browned. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until it’s wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin purée and vegetable stock, stirring until everything is well combined. Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste and add additional salt and black pepper, if desired.
- Arrange the tater tots in a single layer over the base layer. Then transfer the skillet to your pre-heated oven. Bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes, or until the tater tots are golden brown.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.