Spanakorizo is a classic Greek spinach rice that's easy and comforting. You only need a few ingredients to make this delicious vegetarian recipe.
If you've tried Greek recipes, you know they are very comforting and nourishing. From moussaka and pastitsio to soutzoukakia (Greek meatballs) and of course, traditional Greek salad, every dish is made with care and attention, using wholesome fresh ingredients that would result in extraordinary flavors. Speaking of comforting and wonderful taste, this Greek spinach rice called spanakorizo is a favorite that you'll keep making over and over again!
This is a nutritious dish since it's packed with spinach, which is a good source of iron, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins B12 and B6.
You can serve spinach rice hot or cold with some feta sprinkled on top. This recipe is vegetarian and gluten free, perfect on its own as a meal or with some protein as a side dish.
What kind of rice to use
There are a few different opinions about what kind of rice to use for spanakorizo. The classic Greek recipes call for medium grain rice also known as "carolina". Medium grain rice yields the creamy and smooth texture that we're looking for in this dish as oppose to short grain rice which would make it sticky.
Long grain rice won't work for this recipe because it doesn't give the smooth texture. I also don't recommend using brown rice since it takes longer to cook which will result in overcooking spinach.
Depending on the rice you're about to use, you might need to soak it for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking to get rid of excess starch.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Spinach: I recommend using baby spinach for this recipe. However, regular spinach would work too if you roughly chop it.
- Rice: As mentioned above, use medium grain rice for the silky and creamy texture. If your rice has too much starch, soak it in cold water for 30 minutes before you start cooking.
- Herbs: You need a combination of green onions, dried mint and dried dill weed.
- Tomatoes: I like using canned crushed tomatoes for this recipe. You don't need a lot, just a bit to boost the flavor.
- Feta: This is optional, but a nice addition at the very end. For a vegan spanakorizo leave out the feta.
How to make Greek spinach rice (spanakorizo)
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add in the baby spinach and green onions. Cook until the spinach is wilted.
- Add in the dried herbs and stir to combine.
- Rinse the rice a few times and add it to the pan with the crushed tomatoes.
- Add the water and bring it to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes.
- The dish is ready once the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked completely.
There are a few variation of this recipe. Some families use tomato paste or chopped fresh tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes and that works well, too. As for herbs, some might opt for fresh parsley or dill which would work.
When it comes to consistency, you can make this dish with more water and tomatoes so it has more liquid or add less so the rice is fluffier. I like to keep the amount of water in the middle, about 2 ½ cups, so the rice is very creamy yet not soupy.
Spinach rice frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make this recipe up to a day ahead of time and heat right before serving. I recommend adding a little bit of water to bring back the creamy texture.
You can use frozen spinach in this recipe and keep it frozen or thawed before adding to the onions.
There is no need to cook the spinach beforehand since it cooks pretty quickly in the pan.
It's best to keep the lid on for the first 20 minutes after the simmering starts for the rice to get creamy and rich.
Leftovers and storage
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up o 3 days. To serve, you can reheat the leftovers in a pan over medium heat with just a little bit of water. Make sure to cover and pan and stir a few times so it heats evenly.
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Spanakorizo Greek Spinach Rice Recipe
- 1 cup medium grain rice
- 2 tbso olive oil extra virgin
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 green onions chopped
- 3 cups spinach
- 1 ½ tablespoon dill weed
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 2 ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup feta optional
- Rinse the rice a few times to get rid of the excess starch and set it aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan or a pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add the spinach and green onions. Cook for 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Then add the dill weed and mint. Give it a good stir and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes.
- Add the rice, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice and water. Stir and bring it to a simmer.
- Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. It should look creamy and tender.
- Turn the heat off. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then top with feta and serve.
- It's best to use baby spinach but you can use regular spinach as well.
- You can use fresh or frozen spinach for this recipe.
- If the rice you're using is too starchy, soak it in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes before you start cooking.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan over medium heat with just a little bot of water.
- You can serve spanakorizo as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish with chicken souvlaki, soutzoukakia, keftedes or Greek style mahi mahi.