This Spanakorizo or Greek Spinach & Rice recipe is a delicious vegetable side dish that features long grain rice prepared with onions, leeks, fennel, spinach, fresh dill, and tomatoes. It's topped with lemon juice and a touch of lemon zest before serving for a hearty side.
Spanakorizo is literally translated from Greek as spinach (spanaki) and rice (rizi). There are many variations of spanakorizo, depending on the region of Greece and the availability of vegetables and herbs in the region. For example, tomatoes are variable in this recipe. Some regions prepare spanakorizo without tomatoes instead highlighting the fresh herbs with the spinach and rice. Some recipes include feta. This traditional Greek spanakorizo kokkinisto (red sauce, i.e. tomato) uses crushed tomatoes plus a bit of vegetable juice for cooking the rice.
If you love Greek spinach and rice but want a lower-carb option, you need to try my Cauliflower Rice Spanakorizo, which does not have tomatoes, but rather features fresh aromatic dill and briny feta with the cooked spinach and riced cauliflower.
Ingredients in Spanakorizo
Simple, wholesome ingredients make up this traditional Greek Spinach & Rice recipe.
- long-grain white rice - the best rice for spanakorizo is long-grain white rice. You may rinse if you choose, I typically do not.
- spinach and kale - we use both fiber-rich greens in this recipe
- leeks - leeks are used in my recipe to add another layer of flavor and texture to the dish. You'll need 3 small leeks, sliced.
- green onion - in addition to the diced leeks, we also use diced green onions to add flavor and texture to the rice dish.
- fennel - It has a fresh, aromatic anise flavor and adds a wonderful complexity and depth of flavor to spanakorizo
- tomato paste - 1 tablespoon of tomato paste adds great umami flavor to the dish.
- garlic - We use 1 tablespoon of garlic so it infuses the spinach and rice with flavor.
- fresh herbs - dill, oregano and basil add amazing aromatic and herby flavor to this dish.
- salt and pepper - to taste
- bay leaf - adds an herby, pungent flavor to the dish.
- Vegetable Juice and vegetable broth - We use 1 cup of vegetable juice in addition to 2 cups of vegetable broth as the liquid to cook the rice. I suggest low-sodium options to control the sodium in the rice.
- lemon juice and zest - adds brightness to the dish and is added at the end for a lemon-forward flavor.
- Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for garnish and serving
How to Make a Greek Spinach & Rice Spanakorizo
Preparing Spanakorizo Greek is easy and can be done in under 30 minutes, making it a perfect side dish for a weeknight meal.
Saute the leeks, onions, and fennel in olive oil until tender.
Add the spinach and kale and saute until tender, then add the tomatoes, broth, and rice.
In a large pot, melt the butter and the olive oil.
Saute the leeks, green onions, shallots, and fennel until tender.
Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs (dill, oregano, parsley) to the pot and stir.
Add the spinach and kale to the pot and stir until wilted.
Next add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, sugar, rice, broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Remove from the heat and add the juice of ½ a lemon to the rice and stir.
Serve with kalamata olives, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh lemon zest.
Greek Spinach & Rice Substitutions
To make vegan spanakorizo, simply use plant-based butter or omit the butter entirely from the recipe and substitute olive oil.
If you would like to try the spanakorizo without the tomatoes, omit the crushed tomatoes, sugar, and tomato paste. Add the fresh herbs at the end of cooking so the dish has a lemon-herb-forward flavor.
What to Serve with Spanakorizo
Kalamata olives and a hunk of hearty bread are traditionally served with Spanakorizo. It can be served as a main dish during Lent when no animal products are consumed or as a side dish all year round.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - is drizzled over the top when the rice is served for a pungent, yet smooth mouthfeel.
- Kalamata Olives - Traditionally served with most Greek foods, add 3-4 olives to the center as garnish.
- Feta Cheese - Crumble some feta cheese in the center of your spanakorizo for a delightful tanginess that only feta can offer. It's delicious.
Spanakorizo - Greek Spinach & Rice
- 2 tablespoon butter (use plant-based butter for vegan)
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 leeks sliced
- 1 cup green onions diced
- ½ cup shallots sliced
- 1 fennel bulb diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon fresh oregano basil and parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach chopped
- 2 cups kale chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 15 oz crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- In a large pot, melt the butter and the olive oil.
- Saute the leeks, green onions, shallots and fennel until tender.
- Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper and fresh herbs (dill, oregano, parsley) to the pot and stir.
- Add the spinach and kale to the pot and stir until wilted.
- Next add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, sugar, rice, broth and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Remove from the heat and add the juice of ½ a lemon to the rice and stir.
- Serve with kalamata olives, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon zest.
Looking for other vegan or lenten recipes? Try these: