spanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dishspanakorizo - spinach & rice dish

SPA-NA-KÒ-RI-ZO (it just means spinach with rice in greek) . . . I hadn’t actually tried making this simple meat-less peasant dish myself that I grew up with, until a month ago and usually only having it when I visited my parents in Montreal. A friend’s wife asked me for the recipe a few months ago so I called my mother and this was my understanding of my mom’s abstract re-telling of how she makes it using no precise measurements except for a coffee cup and her fingers as measuring instruments, which is how things work in her magical world of ‘old school’ experience and know-how. She really is a wonderful and insightful cook.

I was actually worried the first time I made the spanakorizo at home in Paris, thinking that this type of dish could only be appreciated by those who grew up with it. I was wrong. Everyone who tasted it loved it (whether hot or cold) and they started imagining it combined with their own culinary references even though I could only imagine it as a main dish with a big dollop of well-strained and thick greek yogurt, lemon slices and maybe white meats like poultry or fish (if you prefer it as a side dish) but I’ve been known to be wrong sometimes. I’ve been making this recipe  once every 2 weeks now.

For some, this is still a week of meat-less “fasting” because Orthodox Easter is actually this weekend. Some actually go meat-less for 40 days while others reserve the meat-less part just for that last week before Easter. What a long, long, long time ! And yet I’d like to do more vegetarian dishes (and not just because of this pre-Easter week) so I’ll give it a spin and try posting more vegetarian recipes soon.

Don’t be surprised at the quantity of fresh spinach required (you can scale the recipe down to half) but once cooked it becomes much less voluminous (and I like chopping the tough stalks and adding them in because they’re actually more flavorful than the leaves). The quantity of herbs required seem like a lot but it makes it delicious, just try considering the herbs as additional greens and not just flavorings. The short-grain rice as opposed to medium or long grain keeps the whole think neat and not pasty nor mushy.

I slightly modified my mom’s recipe because I felt that some added celery and a splash of ouzo (a dry anise-flavored aperitif) could be nice too . . . What do you think ?! 

spanakorizo - spinach & rice dish




  • 1 kg grams fresh spinach leaves (I prefer large leaves but you can use baby spinach if you prefer)
  • 225 grams (2 large or 2 cups) diced yellow onions
  • 450 grams (2-3 bunches or 5 cups) sliced green onions (white and pale green parts only)
  • 60 grams (½ cup) finely chopped celery
  • 90 ml (6 tbsp) olive oil (adjust later with an additional 1-2 tbsp/15-30 ml)
  • 60 grams fresh dill leaves (from 1 bunch or 1 ½ cups)
  • 20 grams fresh mint leaves (from ½ bunch or ½ cup)
  • 15 grams (1 tbsp) fine sea salt (adjust with an extra 1 tsp or 5 grams later)
  • 2 grams (½ tsp) ground black or multi-colored peppercorns
  • 210 grams (1 cup) uncooked and rinsed round arborio rice (white short-grain)
  • 210 ml (¾ cup + 2 tbsp) water (adjust later with an extra 30 ml or 2 tbsp boiling water, if necessary)
  • optional : 30 ml (2 tbsp) greek ouzo or french pastis or italian sambuca (to replace 2 tbsp of the water)

garnish when serving :

  • lemon slices, greek strained yogurt, extra herbs


  • wash & roughly tear up (or coarsely chop) spinach leaves and let drain
  • prepare the fresh herbs and set aside (it takes long to remove the leaves from the stalks so do it at the beginning)
  • rinse the rice several times (about 7-10 times) in cold water until the water runs clear and let drain
  • dice the onion and celery (and spinach stalks if using them) and cook at medium-high heat in the olive oil in a very large casserole for 10 minutes until transparent and softer, then lower the heat to medium, add the chopped green onions and cook for another 10 minutes (add more olive oil if necessary)
  • lower the heat to low and add the rice and salt, stir and let cook until the rice “opens up” or begins looking slightly transparent and bigger for 3-5 minutes
  • add the water (and/or some ouzo), wait until it starts simmering, then add the torn or sliced spinach leaves, the fresh herbs and ground pepper, simmer while covered for 15-20 minutes (stirring occasionally), then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (if it seems too dry, add some extra very hot boiled water or ouzo)
  • at the end, taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, fresh dill and/or mint
  • serve warm (or cold) with a large dollop of thick greek strained yogurt (or labneh) and a slice of lemon as a main dish (or as a side dish with white meats such as poultry or fish).