Spanakorizo is a traditional Greek rice recipe made with spinach, rice and herbs and is a delightful and healthier way to enjoy the flavours of Greece. If you want to prepare an easy and healthy lunch in less than 30 minutes, make this classic dish!
Why this recipe works
- It’s a vegetarian dish. Depending on how you prepare it, spanakorizo can be vegan too. It falls under a group of Greek dishes known as "ladera" (pronounced la-the-ra). Ladera are foods (consisting mostly of Greek vegetarian recipes) which have been cooked using an olive oil based sauce - similar to briam-Greek roasted vegetables and fasolakia. It's a Mediterranean Diet super dish!
- It’s packed with flavour. It may not be pretty to look at but this Greek spinach rice is a taste sensation. And where does the flavour come from? From the magic combination of dill, lemon and Greek extra virgin olive oil.
- It's versatile. Spanakorizo makes an easy side dish - serve it alongside some pork souvlaki if you fancy! Or it can be served as a main dish. Try it with my patates sto fourno - roasted Greek potatoes. Greek food is delicious (yes I'm biased) and you can easily create your own combinations. Check out my recipe index for more ideas.
What goes into this recipe
I like to use fresh spinach but you can use silverbeet if you don't have spinach or use a combination of both. If you prefer to use baby spinach leaves add an extra 250 grams. And don’t be afraid of the amount of spinach you put in - spinach shrinks!
Use a combination of red onions and green onions (scallions).
Lemon is essential when making spanakorizo. I use the juice of one lemon - nut if you prefer it extra tangy then use lots of lemon!
- Olive Oil
Do I need to emphasise this again? This Greek rice dish definitely needs Greek extra virgin olive oil.
Use vegetable stock to make it vegan or use water instead. If using water, add an extra teaspoon of salt. For a more flavourful broth use chicken stock.
- Fresh Herbs
Fresh dill is the key ingredient when making spanakorizo. I know a lot of people don’t like the taste of dill. Substitute with parsley or better yet - use both! To add extra flavour and depth try adding a tablespoon of fresh mint.
It's best to use a medium grain rice for this spinach rice recipe. It holds its shape and clings to the spinach while cooking. You can use arborio rice in place of the medium-grain rice I used. Just be sure to cook it a little longer (approx. 5 mins) until it becomes "al dente" - toothsome in texture but cooked through.
- Tomatoes (optional)- Greeks also make another version of spanakorizo with a tomato sauce. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce (diced, canned tomatoes/passata/grated tomatoes or tomato paste) along with the rice. This will make the spanakorizo red. And it will change the flavour profile slightly. If you choose to use tomato adding lemon is optional.
How to make this recipe
- Step1: Heat 60 ml of the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and spring onions, stir and allow the mixture to become soft and translucent.
- Step 2: Add the spinach and stir, ensuring it becomes soft.
- Step 3: Add the chicken stock, rice, salt and pepper. Stir again and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and allow the rice to cook for approximately 15 mins.
- Steps 4-5: Finish off the spanakorizo by adding 20 ml of olive oil, lemon juice and dill. Stir again to ensure everything is mixed through. Cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving with a wedge of lemon (optional).
- Preparing the spinach. Make sure to remove the thick stems from the spinach (and the inner tough rib of the silverbeet if using). Spinach is an earthy vegetable and it tends to have dirt when it’s picked. Clean it really well in a sink filled with cold water. Repeat this step a few more times until the water is clear. And to dry your spinach use a salad spinner - it makes the task at hand a lot easier.
- Use brown rice. If you want to up the nutritional value of this spanakorizo recipe try using a medium grain brown rice. Although this isn’t part of the traditional recipe (and who am I to argue!) - it will require a few changes. Add an extra 250 ml (1 cup) of your preferred cooking liquid to allow for the extra cooking time brown rice requires.
- Serve with feta cheese. Feta mostly always appears on Greek tables when food is being served. Serve it alongside the spanakorizo and don’t forget the bread. In some parts of Greece they like to serve it with strained yogurt as well. If you really want the full “Greek experience”, then make a batch of my keftedes - Greek meatballs for a complete Greek feast!
I don’t recommend it at all. It’s better to clean your spinach, and then blanch or steam it for a few minutes. Refresh in iced water and then dry it using a salad spinner. Place it in air tight bag and freeze. Make sure to use within 6 months.
It’s pronounced spa-na-ko-ree-zo. It literally translates as “spinach rice” Spanaki means spinach in Greek and rizi means rice.
Video - how to make it
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Spanakorizo - Greek Spinach Rice
- 80 ml olive oil
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 4 spring onions, green onions trimmed and finely chopped
- 500 grams spinach, washed, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 250 ml chicken stock
- 80 grams rice, medium grain
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
- Heat 60 ml of the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and spring onions, stir and allow the mixture to become soft and translucent.
- Add the spinach and stir, ensuring it becomes soft.
- Add the chicken stock, rice, salt and pepper. Stir again and turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow the rice to cook for approximately 15 mins. (See note 1)
- Finish off the spanakorizo by adding 20 ml of olive oil, lemon juice and dill. Stir again to ensure everything is mixed through. Cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
This post was originally published in August 2008, but was updated with new content in October 2021.