What is spanakorizo?
Spanakorizo is a vegetarian dish of Greek origin. It consists of a preparation of rice called pilaf (or pilaw) made with long grain rice and spinach leaves. This Greek rice dish can be enjoyed hot, warm, or even cold.
This preparation is perfumed with fresh dill, cumin, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The combination of dill and cumin is dear to the heart of the Greeks and characteristic of this spinach rice dish. You can also add scallions, to make it even more refreshing, as well as olive oil. Some parts of Greece also incorporate tomato paste.
The amount of spinach greatly influences the final color of the spanakorizo. Thus, you will find versions that are more or less green. The tomato concentrate gives it an orange hue. Spanakorizo is prepared in all families, so it is almost never found in the restaurant as it is considered a simple, basic and quick to prepare recipe. It is nonetheless the favorite dish of many Greeks.
This Greek rice pilaf dish is often eaten with fresh local white wine such as Tsantali Agiorgitiko, Boutari or Retsina. Retsina is a wine made from Savatiano and Rhoditis grapes in which pine resin is added during fermentation. This resin helps stabilize the wine and make it more resistant to the high temperatures of Greece. This process comes from antiquity when people sealed the amphorae with resin. Its particular flavor beautifully complements the spanakorizo.
How to make spanakorizo?
Spinach should be thoroughly rinsed and hulled, and chopped onions should be fried in hot oil. Then spinach, cumin, dill, pepper and scallions are added and wetted with the vinegar and water. The tomato concentrate can then be incorporated along with the rice. The cooking lasts about twenty minutes.
The principle of pilaf cooking implies that the rice is cooked in a fat base and not just water. This fat is usually olive oil and then the rice is moistened with water or broth. This cooking technique gives a loose and particularly tasty grain to this Greek rice recipe.
What is the origin of spanakorizo?
Pilaf rice is a type of Middle Eastern cooking, itself inherited from Central Asia. The word pilaf comes from the Turkish word pilav which comes from the Persian word polow and the Sanskrit pulaka, which literally means “boiled rice”. The etymology allows to visualize the road that this cooking process has crossed over the centuries.
Alexander the Great would have already eaten pilaf rice after taking Maracanda (now Samarkand in Uzbekistan). The Byzantine and Ottoman presence in Greece is probably no stranger to the introduction of this method of cooking. Unless its origin goes back to Alexander’s conquests.
Spinach, for its part, is native to Persia, its introduction was made in Europe before the tenth century and later in France thanks to Catherine de Medici, which is why spinach dishes are often called “a la Florentine”, the city of origin of the famous Medici family.
What are the benefits of spanakorizo?
Spanakorizo contains a large amount of fresh spinach, the latter being excellent for the eyes. It also provides better resistance of white blood cells to oxidative stress. Cooked spinach is much more nutritious than raw. They contain many antioxidants and ferulic acid. They are also rich in vitamins A, B9, K, iron, magnesium and manganese.
This cold dish can be very refreshing in the summer. It is light, digestible and suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.
What are the variants of spanakorizo?
The spanakorizo can be enriched with fried eggs, raw milk feta or lemon juice. It is usually a complete dish.
The combination of spinach and rice is very common in India, and this dish is usually perfumed with cumin as it is done in Greece with spanakorizo.
Enjoy this authentic spanakorizo recipe!
- 2 lb fresh spinach
- 2 onions , finely chopped
- ¾ cup long grain rice
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1½ cup water
- 1 bunch fresh dill , roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated scallions
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- Black pepper
- Wash the spinach thoroughly and cut part of the stems if necessary.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent.
- Add the spinach, cumin, dill and the scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Then add the vinegar and the water.
- Stir again, then add the tomato paste.
- Add the rice, and the remaining olive oil. Mix well.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Serve hot, warm, or cold.