Spanakorizo is a traditional Greek Spinach and Rice dish that can be served as a vegetarian meal or side dish. This easy recipe uses simple, fresh ingredients to produce a dish that is both healthy and delicious.
It never ceases to amaze me how a simple, humble vegetarian dish made with readily available ingredients can be so flavourful and delicious. Spanakorizo or Greek Spinach and Rice is one of those dishes.
This classic, vegetarian (actually vegan) Greek dish is made with simple but fresh ingredients and a staple in pretty much everyone’s kitchen – rice. The end result is a dish that is packed with fresh flavour (and plenty of nutrients and health benefits)!
The beauty of this simple dish is it can be made throughout the year. We especially like making it in the summer when we have a lot of spinach from our garden or when we are fasting for lent since it is naturally vegan and, therefore, nistisimo (lent-friendly).
Growing up, spanakorizo was never one of my favourites but now, as an adult, it has become a loved dish both as a main or as a side dish. This classic Greek spinach rice dish makes its way onto our table frequently now.
This economical dish is made with low-cost ingredients and makes about 4 generous main course servings or about twice as many side dishes.
This recipe is my mother’s recipe and as with most of the food she makes, it is as delicious as it gets. Spanakorizo recipes vary from one Greek home to another. Some make spanakorizo with a tomato based sauce, while others make it white and lemony. My mom’s recipe uses tomato and since it’s something I personally prefer, maybe nostalgia is to blame, this is the recipe I am sharing today.
I love this recipe and feel confident in saying you will love it too!
Ingredients in Spanakorizo
The key ingredients for a good spanakorizo are:
- Olive oil: good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Onion: 1 regular onion or 3-4 spring onions (green onions) can be used in this recipe. If I have spring onions, I usually opt for those but regular onions work well when I don’t. Feel free to use what you have on hand.
- Rice: rinsed white, long grain rice. White rice is preferable as it is tender and cooks quicker but if you would like to use brown rice, you can. Just be sure to increase the cook time as brown rice takes longer to cook. I use long grain rice but you can have some flexibility with this. Long grain, basmati rice, or even short grain rice works so go with what you prefer.
- Tomato: peeled and diced. This fresh tomato breaks down while cooking to create a tomato sauce. If you don’t have fresh tomato, you can substitute 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
- Fresh Spinach: About 2 bunches, roughly chopped. This is a good amount of spinach and although it looks like a lots of spinach at first, spinach shrinks down a lot when cooking. Cut off long stems as you want more tender spinach leaves and not tough stems in your final dish.
- Fresh herbs: fresh parsley and fresh dill.
- Seasoning: salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon: for serving, optional. I personally love to add lots of lemon juice but this is entirely up to you.
Note: Ingredient quantities and full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make Spanakorizo
- Sauté the onion: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute onion for 2 minutes.
- Add the rice: Stir in the rice and continue to saute for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the herbs and veggies: Next, add the chopped tomato, chopped spinach and fresh herbs. Stir until the spinach has wilted.
- Simmer until rice is cooked: Once it has wilted, add a cup of water and increase the heat to medium high. Continue to stir occasionally until the rice is cooked, about 15-20 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed, add more water as needed.
That’s it! This traditional Greek rice recipe is as easy as it gets. All you have to do is plate and serve with lemon wedges. I personally love a good squeeze of lemon on my spanakorizo but serving it with lemon wedges lets everyone adjust and use as much as they like.
Tips for making the best Spanakorizo
- Use medium or long grain rice. I use long grain but medium grain rice works well for this recipe.
- Rinse your rice. Rinse your rice until the water runs clear. I place it in a sieve and run it directly under the faucet until the water is no longer cloudy. This step removes excess starch which can change the texture of your dish, so don’t skip this step!
- Don’t overcook your rice. Cook just until the rice is cooked through and tender. This will ensure the rice keeps its shape. Overcooking your rice will result in a mushy texture.
- Serve with lemon. Lemon adds brightness to this dish. I like to serve it with lemon wedges on the side so that everyone can add as much as they like.
How to serve Spanakorizo
The beauty of this recipe is how versatile it is. It works perfectly as a vegetarian main course, served with some crusty bread and feta cheese. I love adding crumbled feta right over top of the dish so you can it in every bite! If you want a vegan or nistisimo (lent) dish, just omit the feta cheese. This is one of the best ways to get loads of leafy greens into your diet!
It can also be served as a perfect side dish along with your favourite main course. Chicken Souvlaki, Shrimp, Greek Meatballs, and Pork Chops all go well with a side of spanakorizo!
How to store leftovers
Once cooled, place leftover spanakorizo in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. It will keep this way for a few days. You can eat leftovers cold or warm them through on the stove top or even in the microwave.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
Are you a fan of Greek cuisine? You may also like these other classic Greek dishes:
- Fasolakia (Greek Green Beans) (vegan and nistisimo)
- Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes) (can be made vegan or with meat)
- Dolmades (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves) (can also be made vegan or with meat)
- Greek Lentil Soup (vegan)
- Hortopita (Greek Mixed Greens Pita) (vegan)
- Greek Olive Oil Cookies (Vegan) – Koulourakia Ladiou
Spanakorizo (Greek Spinach and Rice)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 onion diced. Can substitute 3-4 spring onions
- 1/2 cup rice rinsed long grain rice
- 1 large tomato peeled and diced. Can substitute 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 bunches spinach roughly chopped (remove long stems)
- 1/3 cup parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons dill chopped
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon for serving, optional
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and continue to saute for 2 minutes.
- Next, add the chopped tomato, spinach and fresh herbs. Stir until the spinach has wilted.
- Once it has wilted, add a cup of water and increase the heat to medium high. Continue to stir occasionally until the rice is cooked, about 15-20 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed, add more water as needed.
- Serve with lemon (optional).