Spanakorizo is a classic rice side dish made with simple yet nourishing ingredients. This Greek spinach rice recipe whips up easily in minutes for flavorful, Mediterranean comfort food!
Creating Flavorful Side Dishes
When you're looking for new side dish ideas, keep in mind that simple ingredients are able to create some of the world's most flavorful dishes.
Adding a few berries, raisins, fresh herbs, or even a handful of nuts can make a huge difference to any side dish. For example, how much tastier do green beans taste after you add slivered almonds to them?!
This is especially true with rice dishes. Rice is a blank canvas, just waiting for fresh herbs and spices, dried fruits, nuts, cheeses, and anything else to come in and add flavor to it.
Those additional ingredients can have complex flavors, like the ones in Persian saffron rice or tahdig rice but they don't have to be complex to create deliciousness.
Sometimes all you need is a splash of citrus juice or some fresh herbs to create incredible flavor.
Spanakorizo: The Ultimate Greek Comfort Food
The Greek word spanakorizo comes from the two primary ingredients in the dish: spanaki meaning spinach, and rizi meaning rice.
It's a wholesome, nourishing dish, and aside from a few fresh herbs and some good quality olive oil, this dish is all about the grain and the greens.
Although many people think of rice as a side dish, this dish is definitely worthy of being served as a meatless main dish. Cook eggs in olive oil and serve them over the top of the Greek spinach rice for high-protein breakfast packed with healthy fats, fiber, iron, and antioxidants.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
To create a creamy smooth rice dish, it's important to use a medium grain rice like arborio, or a softer long grain rice, like basmati or jasmine. Avoid using short grain rice like Asian sticky rice; the extra starch in short grain rice will make spanakorizo sticky rather than fluffy.
Wild and long grain rice should be avoided as well. They take longer to cook, which will leave the spinach in the Greek spinach rice mushy and overcooked.
Substituting Brown Rice for White Rice
If you want to use brown rice for this recipe, be sure to use a quick cooking (parboiled) brown rice. Otherwise, it takes too long to cook, which will cause the spinach to become mushy.
Also, you may need an extra 4 to 6 ounces of cooking liquid, and the rice will probably take a few extra minutes to cook.
Either traditional large leaf or baby spinach may be used. If desired, you can even substitute the spinach for another healthy green, such as kale, collards, or beet greens.
A sprinkling of feta cheese adds creaminess to the dish but if you want to omit it, the dish will still be delicious.
- FRESH HERBS
There are no substitutions for the flavor you get from fresh herbs. For this recipe, you'll need fresh dill and chives. Both should be easy to find year round in the produce section of any grocery store.
- COOKING LIQUID
I use chicken stock when I make spanakorizo, but if you'd like to keep the dish vegetarian, vegetable stock works as well.
FAQ: Greek Spinach Rice
Absolutely, almost any cooked rice dish can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Before freezing, be sure the food is as close to room temperature as possible, and store it in an airtight, freezer safe container. This helps prevent ice crystals from forming on top of the food, which can cause freezer burn.
If you'd like to boost the color of the dish, add some red or yellow bell pepper. For additional flavor and texture, add some finely chopped mushrooms, zucchini, or even finely grated carrot.
Serving Suggestions for Spanakorizo
If you'll be serving it as a side dish, it's wonderful with beef or lamb koobideh kabobs , souvlaki, Chinese steamed chicken, or even fish meatballs (kofta).
As a meatless main dish, it would be fantastic stuffed into khubz (whole wheat pita bread), zaatar bread, or Armenian flatbread. Add a dollop of labneh, lemon pickle, and/or yogurt sauce and enjoy!
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Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup fresh chives chopped fine
- ¼ cup fresh dill chopped fine
- 8 oz fresh spinach sliced thin (julienne)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1 lemon (2 tablespoon juice plus zest)
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the onions for about 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the garlic, half the of dill and chives. Stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and cook for 4 minutes, just until it starts to wilt.
- Add the basmati rice and chicken stock and stir. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 22 minutes.
- Stir in the butter, lemon juice, zest, remaining dill and chives and feta cheese. Serve immediately.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
Made this with cauliflower rice since I am on keto. Great taste and I didn't miss the regular rice.
Fantastic idea, thanks for letting me know and for trying this one Sharon!
Tested this recipe to see if it might work as a turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving. Oh my goodness, it's fantastic! Thanks for the awesome recipe, Kevin.
So glad that worked for you Don, great idea!
Really great and filling
So glad you enjoyed Lorie. Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!
will be making this soon can i use vegan butter / feta and vegetable broth as am a vegan i never had spanakorizo and greek food before perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya
Let me know how it turns out Ramya!