Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakorizo

Spanakorizo: A traditional Greek rice and spinach dish that will become a winter comfort food, thanks to its wonderful flavor and texture.

spanakorizo Greek spinach and rice

Ah the spanakorizo … This dish was a winter staple in our home. My mom would make it once a week, all winter long. She would usually accompany it with a small cheese pie (tiropitaki) or one or two Greek meatballs, and while you may think that as children we would hate it because of the spinach, it actually was a comfort food.

It is soft and creamy, and along with plenty of lemon juice, a bit of olive oil and of course feta, it was delicious (and still is).

Spanakorizo is such a simple dish as many Greek ones are, but yet delicious and easy to make. Oh, and did I mention its nutritional value? Spinach full of antioxidants and fiber, the lemon helps with some absorption of the iron in the spinach and the rice is a source of carbohydrates to provide sustenance. The actual recipe has little olive oil during the cooking stage, but adding some olive oil while serving makes it even more delicious and the addition of fat helps with the absorption of antioxidants. Now this recipe makes about 2 main course servings, so basically you are getting ½ pound of vegetables in one sitting. The beauty of the Greek diet… getting your vegetables effortlessly.

The rice

A note about the rice: It is important to use the right type which in this case is medium grain rice. You do not want short grain rice which may end up giving your dish a sticky texture, but not long grain either as you will not have the smooth texture we are looking for in this recipe. As for brown rice, it takes a while longer to cook, it will not have the same texture will not cook to the point of being creamy and as a result you may be overcooking the spinach as well.

*Most traditional Greek recipes require medium grain rice, here in Greece it is called “Carolina” but you may use Arborio if you are unable to find medium grain. From a quick search on Google there are several brands that carry medium grain rice.

Serve it with

This can be enjoyed plain (without feta) for a vegan dish or with feta. And this is considered a main course, but you may serve it as a side dish. It goes well with fish or beef patties (biftekia).

You may also like these recipes

Greek cuisine has numerous delicious rice-vegetable combo recipes. Check out some of my favorites:
Greek Leeks and Rice – Prasorizo
Greek Cabbage with Rice – Lahanorizo
One-Pot Greek Zucchini Rice

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Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakokorizo

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Spanakorizo: A traditional Greek rice and spinach dish that will become a winter staple, thanks to its flavor.
Course: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan
Keyword: Spanakorizo Greek Spinach Rice
Servings: 2 Main Course servings or 4 sides
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450 g) fresh spinach rinsed
  • Juice of half lemon
  • 1 onion chopped or 2-3 spring onions chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • I teaspoon dry mint (preferably spearmint)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup (60 g) medium grain rice
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional

Instructions

  • In a large pot wilt the spinach with the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Set aside to drain.
  • In another pot sauté the onion with the rest of the olive oil until soft.
  • Add the spinach, dry mint, dill and 2/3 cup warm water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the rice, salt (as needed) and pepper and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes until rice is soft. Add additional warm water as needed.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of olive oil and feta.

Notes

You may add the tomato paste in step 4.
Nutrition Facts
Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakokorizo
Amount per Serving
Calories
350
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Greek Spinach and Rice Spanakorizo

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156 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I was wondering if I could make this using rice pilaf in place of plain rice…..I really look forward to trying this recipe and thanks for providing this great source of information.

  2. This is great food.We make it everything week or so . Adding a handfull of shrimps makes it even better!

  3. I’m not sure why, but my Cretan mother used Uncle Ben’s Converted rice for all her Greek recipes, including spanokorizo and spanakopita and in Gourvalakia.

  4. I’ve only ever had this dish with tomato; maybe that’s why I’ve never liked it! Always felt too heavy on the stomach and gave me nausea. I didn’t know you can make it without tomato and I am very excited to try it this way, so thank you!

    1. try using diced (petite) 8 oz can
      in the recipe it adds just the right amount of flavor.

  5. Kellie Guevara says:

    The first step of the cooking process, am I adding any water to the lemon and olive oil to wilt the spinach?

  6. First I want to say thank you for this website, it’s been wonderful in gaining knowledge on the Mediterranean diet. I did wonder though, there seems to be a lot of white rice/pasta/filo pastry. How often would pies or white rice and pasta be eaten? We’ve been taught that whole grains are better because they offer more fiber and do not convert into simple sugars as quickly, thus maintaining more constant blood sugar levels. Can you provide any insight on this? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nicole, Rice or pasta dishes I would say on average are consumed about once (sometimes twice) a week. Regarding the pies, this type of phyllo is quite thin. One piece of a typical pie wold correspond in terms of phyllo, to a half slice of bread.

  7. I’ve made this every week since first reading the recipe. It’s so good! Thank you!!

  8. My mother and I always added stewed tomatoes, and personally I can even eat it cold. Great with fish and pork.

  9. Catherine says:

    I intended to eat half of this as a full meal but ended up eating the whole thing, as it was so good! Ah well, it’s healthy enough to splurge on and not a terrible number of calories.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What kind of rice do you recommend? I’ve read elsewhere that arborio works well for spanakorizo.

    1. Arborio should work fine. You are looking for a medium grain rice -arborio is a short grain rice but works well.

  11. I think I’ll give it a try with kale. I bought quite a bit of it yesterday and I think it should work. I hope so anyway!

  12. My Mom always made it with frozen spinach and so do I along with the tomato paste and no mint just a little dill! Her family was Spartan. My dad’s Mom made it without the tomato paste, she was from Crete! Either was it’s good and the best comfort food dish!

    1. Thanks for sharing. Yes, the tomato paste is a funny thing: my mom uses tomato paste, but my grandmother (her mom) did not.

      1. I always use frozen spinach as well, comes out great and no tomato paste. Funny though because both my husband and I prefer it with lemon only, where both our Moms made it with tomato paste! Then again both our Moms used vinegar in most of their salads whereas my husband and I don’t care for vinegar so we use lemon in almost all salads. 🙂

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was wondering how the recipe would be with frozen spinach. My second question : is spinach available all year round in Greece? Many thanks!

    1. Almost year round, except in the summer months. Although I try to eat seasonal. Frozen spinach would not have the same flavor or texture, I really recommend using fresh for this recipe if you can find it.

  14. Nancy Messer says:

    Can you make it with brown rice?

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Yes, you could but, you want to make sure you cook the rice long enough without overcooking the spinach. I find brown rice always has a bite to it, so may not necessarily the best choice here as you want a creamy texture.

  15. Daphne Halkias says:

    I just made this today. Spanakorizo is a staple in our home once a week in the winter– a great way for kids to eat their veggies. I also add leek (prasso). We serve with feta and enjoy!