Spanakorizo: A traditional Greek rice and spinach dish that will become a winter comfort food, thanks to its wonderful flavor and texture.
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.
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).
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Greek Spinach and Rice – Spanakokorizo
- 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
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 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.
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