This Greek week wouldn’t be complete without spanakorizo (spah-nah-KOH-ree-zoh) which translates literally as spinach and rice stew cooked in lemon and olive oil sauce.
It’s a simple, tangy Greek pilaf recipe that captures the spirit of what I love about Mediterranean eating: lively, flavorful, comforting.
It’s the kind of family style dish that you’ll want to make again and again.
Even as a child, I loved the combination of spinach and lemon juice, and one of my favorite appetizers is dolmades, where the filling is a lemony rice.
I chose short grain brown rice, but you could use white rice too. While rice can be a bit fussy to cook, this pilaf style way of cooking is foolproof.
What is the difference between rice and rice pilaf?
There’s rice cooked in water, then there’s rice pilaf – rice cooked in a flavorful broth. Many cultures have variations on rice pilaf. In this Greek pilaf, rice is cooked in a flavorful broth seasoned with onion, scallions, olive oil, and lemon juice.
It’s important to use either a medium grain brown or white rice for the best creamy, moist texture. Due to the outer bran coating, brown rice requires more water and a longer cooking time:
- 1 cup brown rice (2 1/2 cups filtered water) – simmer for 40 minutes, steam 10 minutes (covered)
- 1 cup white rice (2 cups filtered water) – simmer for 20 minutes, steam 10 minutes (covered)
Midway through the cook, you fold in fresh spinach. Boxed mini-leaf spinach is a time-saver because there’s no need to chop or de-stem, just add directly to the pot!
Pro Tip: Wash rice. Always. Place the rice in a strainer over a bowl. Fill with water and swirl for a few seconds. Lift and use the rice in your recipe.
Need to use large spinach by the bunch? No problem. Clean the spinach by cutting off the thick stems and filling your sink with water. Plunge the leaves into the water several times to remove sand. Drain by lifting the leaves out of the water. Chop the leaves a bit, no need to go crazy here.
Assemble the spanakorizo on a platter with lemon wedges and Greek plain yogurt or feta (my personal favorite).
I love to serve spanakorizo just as it is for a light lunch but if you want to serve it as a side, it would be great with sauteed chicken and zucchini.
More Ways to Make Greek Style Rice – Prassorizo or Lachanorizo
To make Prassorizo (Leeks with Rice), Lachanorizo (Cabbage with Rice), substitute 1 1/2 pounds sliced leeks/cabbage for the spinach and add with the liquid (leeks and cabbage need longer cooking time). You could even add tomato!
More Greek Recipes You Might Like
- Spicy Greek Feta Dip (easily one of my favorite recipes on The Frayed Apron)
- Crockpot Great Northern Beans (based on Greek gigantes in tomato broth)
- Miracle Chicken and Zucchini – also gluten free and very easy to make
If you’ve tried this rice dish or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how you got on in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Spanakorizo – Greek Spinach and Rice
- 1 medium yellow or white onion chopped
- 6 scallions chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 cup medium grain brown rice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 oz fresh dill chopped, stems removed
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups filtered water
- 1 pound fresh baby spinach
- Add onion, scallion, and olive oil to a medium pot. Sweat the vegetables over medium heat until transparent (about 10 minutes). Rinse and add the rice to the pot with the onion, stirring to coat. Add lemon juice, dill, salt, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Stir in spinach. Cover and continue to cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to steam for 10 minutes (covered).
- Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with some lemon wedges and sprinkle with feta if you wish.
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