Spanakorizo Greek Spinach Rice

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Spanakorizo is comforting, easy to cook, healthy, and delicious!

Spanakorizo is a deliciously classic Greek recipe that simply combines spinach and rice with alliums, herbs, and lemon. You can find myriad variations from family to family and place to place. And because of that I’m encouraging you to riff on this recipe to satisfy your tastes.

This is one dish that is super versatile and pairs well with anything from poultry to fish. I love it as a meal on its own. It’s one of my favorite recipes to cook for my Los Angeles personal chef clients. It’s also one of the first recipes I ever developed and cooked. And because it’s a one-pot dish, cleanup is super easy. 

What rice to use for Spanakorizo?

If you’ve had the opportunity to pick up any Greek, then you will know that Spanakorizo is literally spinach (spana) rice (rizi). So those are the two main ingredients of the recipe. Normally, I use a basic long grain rice or basmati. But, I grew up in the midwest and my yiayia always used Uncle Ben’s. Anyway, use whatever you have on hand. But keep in mind that some rices like basmati and jasmine may have additional aromatic qualities than plain long grain rice. That’s not good or bad, it will just be different.

Can you substitute other grains for rice in Spanakorizo?

Along those lines, more interesting grains have become more widely available. I love making this dish with barley for example. Barley is one of the most ancient Greek food staples, and it’s toothsome texture contrasts nicely to the rest of the softer aspects of the dish. It’s also packed with fiber and amino acids and is one of the healthiest grains you can eat.⁠

You could also use brown rice, farro, or freekeh. My only advice is that if a grain takes longer than 10-15 minutes to cook, I would prepare it separately and then fold it into the spinach mixture at the end. You don’t want to cook your spinach to death and lose all the flavor.

Should I add tomato?

Growing up eating in Greektowns in Detroit and Chicago, Spanakorizo was a staple side dish that came with a basic tomato sauce woven into the spinach/rice mixture. I love the addition of tomatoes. Additionally, in my recipe I’m elevating it a bit using fresh cherry tomatoes. If you want to add tomatoes, you could do that, use regular tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes. However, depending on the amount of liquid from the canned tomatoes, you may need to cut down a bit on the amount of water you add to cook the rice, so your Spanakorizo doesn’t come out soggy.

Alliums, herbs, and finishing touches

Alliums are the fancy name for things like onion and garlic. In this recipe, you can pretty much use any onion, or shallot you want. Many people also use leeks. Scallions or spring onions can also work.

Additionally, as far as herbs go, I’m a dill girl all the way. But if you prefer something else, try mint, or a bit of dried oregano.

After that, I always like to top my Spanakorizo with Feta cheese. Finally, Feta gives the dish a lovely tanginess and compliments everything perfectly.

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