Spanakorizo – Greek spinach and rice

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve been on holiday abroad I always tend to bring back with me at least one new dish to try out at home. This year my family enjoyed a wonderful week in Corfu, and the dish I most enjoyed discovering and which I promised myself I’d cook again was this very simple spanakorizo – a kind of Greek pilaf, made with rice, spinach, feta cheese and lots of lovely fresh dill. I’d never come across it before but it’s quickly becoming a family staple – particularly now the weather has turned, and a regular reminder of warmer climes is very welcome.

After experimenting with a few recipes I found online, this is the version most like the one we ate in Corfu. I assume that as with most dishes like this, every island probably has its own take on spanakorizo, if not every village or indeed every family. Sometimes you’ll see it without the feta, sometimes you’ll see it with the addition of pine nuts. But what makes the dish for me is a generous use of dill; it’s not just a seasoning, but rather a star ingredient in its own right.

Served at room temperature, it’s the perfect dish to make in advance as a side for meat or fish, or as part of a mezze or buffet. I’m also equally happy eating it on its own, perhaps with a poached egg on top.

Spanakorizo – Greek spinach and rice with feta and dill

200g fresh spinach, well rinsed
Juice of half a lemon
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried oregano
large handful, around 15g, fresh dill, chopped
150g long grain rice
salt and pepper
100g feta cheese, cut into cubes
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Place the spinach in a large pan with the lemon juice and 1 tbsp olive oil and wilt over a low heat. Leave to one side.

In another large pan, gently fry the onion in the remaining olive oil until soft and translucent.

Drain the spinach and stir into the onion, along with the mint, oregano and dill. Stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper.

Add 200ml of water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is soft. Add more water if required.

Stir in the cubes of feta and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

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