Spanakorizo - Greek Spinach Rice (Photo Credit: Ali Redmond)

Recipe Corner: The Mediterranean Dish Spanakorizo – Greek Spinach Rice

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“Growing up in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, my early years were filled with sweet memories of visiting the local Souq (market) with my father, gathering things from just-caught fish, to beautiful plump tomatoes, bunches of fresh parsley, and sticks of cinnamon from the vendors he would greet by name,” says Suzy Karadsheh, the cookbook author and creator at Mediterranean Dish. “We would return home to my mother’s fragrant Mediterranean kitchen with our spoils. That family kitchen is where I learned to cook.”

“Spanakorizo or Greek Spinach Rice is a comforting dish made with spinach and medium grain rice then flavor boosted with dried herbs, garlic, onion, and a splash of lemon juice. This easy spinach rice recipe can be enjoyed as a vegetarian main for 4 people or as a side with your favorite protein (up to 6 people),” she says.

“Spanakorizo is considered classic Greek comfort food. It’s one of my go-to dishes, especially when I want something convenient while sticking to healthy, whole foods. Spanakorizo has flavors similar to spanakopita, my favorite crispy Greek spinach and feta pie, or my mac and cheese twist, but it’s a little less involved, which means I can make it on a busy weeknight. This recipe can be served as a vegetarian meal, or make it vegan by omitting the feta cheese at the end (although I think it adds flavor and a touch of luxury). As a side, it is particularly good with meatballs, baked trout, or lemon chicken.”

“The kind of rice you use is key to the success of this recipe and achieving the perfect Greek spinach rice. I chose a medium-grain rice like arborio. This kind of rice is often used in risotto recipes like mushroom risotto or asparagus risotto or really any risotto for that matter. If you use short-grain rice, you risk having a mushy/sticky result. And long grain rice will not give you the silky, creamy texture you need here.”

Suzy Karadsheh

“Lemon juice adds acidity and brightens the earthy flavor of the spinach. Freshly squeezed is best. Kosher salt and black pepper: Think of salt as a flavor enhancer and the black pepper adds a subtle warmth.”

“The benefit of cooking the spinach is that you can pack a ton of the nutrient-rich greens into just a few bites, with this dish or my spinach pasta, just to name a few. This recipe calls for 2 heaping cups of spinach to 1 cup of rice. It may sound like a lot of spinach, but the spinach wilts as it cooks making this rice-to-spinach ratio perfect. Plus, it’s a way to increase the nutrition since spinach adds antioxidants, fiber, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins K, C, B12, B6, E, and more.”

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Ingredients:

1 cup medium grain rice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 pound fresh baby spinach

1 large lemon, juiced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint

1 teaspoon dried dill

Feta cheese, for garnish

 

Preparation:

Rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl and add water to cover it by 1 inch. Let sit to soak for 20 minutes or until you can easily break one grain of rice between your fingers.

Sauté the spinach: Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a braising pan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and golden brown. Add the spinach, lemon juice, garlic, tomato paste, and a big pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Sauté the spinach until just wilted. Stir in the mint and dill.

Drain the rice well and add it to the pan. Add 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes until the water reduces a bit. Turn the heat to low and cover. Let the rice cook undisturbed for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fully cooked through and all the liquid has been absorbed. Once cooked, let the rice sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

When ready, fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with feta, additional finely chopped spinach, or minced parsley.

Following a Mediterranean way of eating is sensible, joyful, and balanced. It prioritizes wholesome ingredients and focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes along with lean proteins from fish and poultry and good fats from things like extra virgin olive oil. Check out these Mediterranean diet-inspired cookbooks with easy recipes and bold and bright Mediterranean flavors from New York Times Bestselling author Suzy Karadsheh. Order at: https://www.themediterraneandish.com/cookbooks/

Visit and shop for Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil, tahini and spices at: https://shop.themediterraneandish.com/

For this recipe: https://www.themediterraneandish.com/spanakorizo-greek-spinach-rice/

For a recipe index: https://www.themediterraneandish.com/recipes/

See more recipes at: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/food/story/recipes-mediterranean-dish-make-week-89601282

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