Greek spinach rice, also known as spanakorizo, is a traditional Greek side dish. This easy-to-make recipe is vegetarian, customizable, and bursting with flavor. Fresh herbs, lively lemon, and tangy feta transform humble grains and greens into a Mediterranean masterpiece!
Today’s recipe for spanakorizo is comfort food with a Mediterranean twist. Made with simple ingredients likely already in your kitchen, this recipe comes out creamy, cheesy, and infused with loads of onion, garlic, and herby flavors.
As a bonus, Greek spinach rice is loaded with tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. Let this irresistible recipe nourish your body as it nourishes your spirit.
What is Spanakorizo?
In Greek, spanakorizo comes from the two words spanaki (meaning spinach) and rizi (meaning rice).
The dish is a divinely delectable combination of spinach, rice, fresh herbs, and feta cheese. There’s also a bit of olive oil and a dash of lemon involved, and that is basically it. Easy peasy!
Although many people think of rice as a side dish, this spanakorizo is definitely worthy of being served as a meatless main dish. Cook eggs in olive oil and serve them over top of Greek spinach rice for a high-protein breakfast packed with healthy fats, fiber, iron, and antioxidants.
This amazingly simple recipe is hearty, satisfying, and bursting with flavor. In a nutshell, spanakorizo is Mediterranean comfort food at its finest.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Onion – I usually choose yellow onions for their pungent yet mildly sweet flavor. I also find they brown and caramelize with the most ease. White onions or red onions will have a slightly different flavor but are acceptable substitutes.
- Garlic – Kicks the flavor of the dish up a notch with its sharp zestiness.
- Fresh Herbs – Chives add an extra dose of fresh onion flavor, while dill brings the dish to life with its bright lemony flavor. Both are easy to find year-round.
- Spinach – Regular or baby spinach are great options. You can also sub in another healthy green of your choosing like collards, kale, turnip, or beet greens.
- Rice – The best rice varieties for spanakorizo are basmati, jasmine, or medium-grain rice like arborio. Avoid short-grain and sticky rice or varieties that take longer to cook like long-grain, wild, or brown rice as these will result in a mushy dish. Parboiled brown rice can be used.
- Chicken Stock – Infuses the whole dish with savory goodness. You can sub in vegetable stock if you want to make the dish vegetarian.
- Lemon – A squeeze of juice and a dash of zest brightens the entire recipe with a blast of citrus zing. Don’t forget this crucial ingredient!
- Feta – Adds rich creaminess and a tangy, briny flavor. If you need to omit this ingredient for any reason, the dish will still be creamy and amazing.
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.
HOW TO MAKE SPANAKORIZO
- Saute the Onions. Use a Dutch oven or large skillet to heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and cook them for about 6 minutes, or until they turn a nice golden brown.
- Add Garlic & Herbs. Add the garlic along with half of the chives and dill to the pan. Stir constantly and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add the Spinach. Now mix in the salt, pepper, and spinach. Stir and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until the spinach is just starting to wilt.
- Stir in the Rice. Add the chicken stock and the basmati rice to the skillet, then stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 22 minutes.
- Season & Serve. Mix in the butter, lemon juice, zest, the rest of the dill, and chives. Finish by adding the feta cheese.
What to Serve With Spanakorizo
Greek spinach rice is as versatile as it is delicious.
- It makes a great snack, either hot or cold.
- I like to enjoy it for lunch with a nice fresh salad like this Shirazi Salad or Lebanese Fattoush.
- As a meatless entree, try serving spanakorizo alongside Mediterranean Hummus, Homemade Labneh, and a flatbread like Khubz (Arabic Pita Bread) or Zaatar Bread (Manakish).
- As a side dish, serve Greek spinach rice with any of your favorite meat dishes. It’s particularly good with lamb dishes like these Grilled Lamb Skewers or chicken entrees like this Baked Greek Yogurt Chicken.
- Make your leftovers into a complete meal by adding in your favorite vegetables and a protein source like chicken, tuna, or even eggs.
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Can I Freeze Leftover Greek Spinach Rice?
Absolutely! This rice dish, like most rice dishes, can be safely frozen for up to 3 months.
For the best results, be sure to let the rice cool completely before packing it up. This will help prevent freezer burn. And of course, be sure that your leftovers are stored in airtight, freezer-safe containers.
If you know you will have enough leftovers to freeze, I recommend leaving the feta separate until you are ready to reheat and enjoy. This isn’t necessary, but the texture of the feta might get a bit funny through the freezing and thawing process.
For smaller amounts of leftovers, store your spanakorizo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach Rice)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup fresh chives chopped fine
- 1/4 cup fresh dill chopped fine
- 8 oz fresh spinach sliced thin (julienne)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 lemon (2 tbsp juice plus zest)
- 1/4 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 is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.