Kid-friendly Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

Recipe: Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Dream79/Shutterstock.com
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
20 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

Let me tell you the story of this recipe:

The husband of my dear friend Stacy does not share her taste for opera. It’s lucky for me because I get to be her “plus-one” for all things opera. That’s how I fell in love with opera. It’s also how I found myself surrounded by opera lovers at a recent event.

We met Dino Maniatis and his Uncle Bill at the party, and we started chatting with them. Stacey and the Maniatises quickly bonded over their shared Greek heritage, and soon after that, we all bonded over our love of Greek food. 

“Do you ever do Greek food at Sticky Fingers Cooking?” the Maniatises wanted to know. 

“Do we ever!” I told them. “We’ve got recipes for Greek Spinach Spanakopita Cups, Tzatziki Dipping Sauce, Lettuce-less Horiatiki Greek Salad, and more!”

“What about Spanakorizo?” they wanted to know. 

Bill, whose mother was Greek, explained that as a child, he’d come home every day from school to a big bowl of his mom’s Spanakorizo. He said it was the most delicious, comforting dish—like Greek kids’ mac n’ cheese. I knew right then we had to find a way to include it in the Sticky Fingers Cooking recipe collection.

But, you guys, I did not imagine this: Bill sent me the actual recipe—from his mother—to share with all of you! And it is SO good! So, without further delay, we bring you Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice! (Note: I recommend serving it with a dash of Maria Callas!)

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Large saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Wooden Spoon or rubber spatula
  • Medium bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
scale
1X
2X
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4X
5X
6X
7X

Ingredients

Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 C fresh spinach, or 1/2 C frozen spinach (thawed)
  • 3/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C instant white rice
  • 1 T plain yogurt **(For DAIRY ALLERGY sub plain soy yogurt)**
  • 1/4 C feta cheese, optional for sprinkling on top **(For DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free Parmesan cheese)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

  • Dairy: Substitute plain soy yogurt for plain yogurt in Rice. Substitute dairy-free Parmesan cheese for optional feta cheese.

Instructions

Epic Greek Spanakorizo Rice

1.
chop + measure

Say "Hello" in Greek: "Geiá sou" (YAH soo)! Start by chopping 2 tomatoes and 2 green onions into a small dice and add them to a medium bowl. Measure and add 3/4 tsp dried dill, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl of tomatoes and stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, measure 2 cups of vegetable stock and set aside.

2.
toast + stir + simmer

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of instant rice to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Toasting the rice will give it a light brown color. After stirring for 1 minute, add the tomatoes, green onions, and seasonings from the medium bowl. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Pour all the vegetable stock into the pan, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3.
tear + sprinkle + serve

Tear 2 cups of spinach and stir the spinach into the pan. It will wilt quickly. After about 2 minutes of stirring, the spinach should be wilted and incorporated. At this point, turn the heat to low and add 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Stir the yogurt in thoroughly. Top with 1/4 cup of feta cheese if desired! The consistency should be wet, but not so liquidy that it resembles soup. This dish is served best for dinner alongside Triumphant Tomato Feta Salad (see recipe), but can also make a tasty breakfast served with Fruit Ambrosia Shakes (see recipe).

Surprise Ingredient: Rice!

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Photo by Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Rice!

"I'm just a little grass seed but loved the world over! I'm Rice! I'm an essential part of the diets of almost every culture! You may have eaten me with Mexican tacos, Korean bibimbap, Indian curries, Mongolian fried rice, Southern Creole gumbo, Filipino adobo, Hawaiian poke, or Japanese sushi, just to name a few!"

History & Etymology

  • Rice is a grain or grass, like wheat, millet, or barley. It was first cultivated in China somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 years ago.
  • Rice is a seed from a grass species, usually Oryza sativa or Asian rice. The other domesticated rice species is Oryza glaberrima or African rice. African rice has been grown for 3,000 years and is hardier, more pest-resistant, and nuttier tasting rice than Asian rice. 
  • Rice is a staple food and supplies as much as half of the daily calories for half the world's population. In many countries, they eat rice at every meal. No wonder a few Asian countries value rice so highly that some of their translations of the word "eat" or "meal" also mean "rice."
  • China consumes the most rice worldwide. Annually, Asians eat over 300 pounds of rice per person, and Americans eat about 26 pounds per person.
  • Rice is the second-highest worldwide crop produced after maize (corn). However, since maize is mainly grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is the most important grain for human consumption. 
  • The English word "rice" comes from Middle English which comes from the Old French "ris," from the Italian "riso," and finally, from the Greek "oruza."

Anatomy

  • Most types of rice are annual plants, meaning they live only one year. But several types of rice can survive and produce grains for up to 30 years. 
  • Rice is often categorized by its size—either short, medium, or long grain. Short grain, or japonica rice, has the highest starch content and makes the stickiest rice, while the long grain, or indica variety, is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked. 
  • In addition to japonica and indica, there are two other categories: aromatic and glutinous. Aromatic is a medium to long-grained rice that generally results in a light and fluffy texture. Varieties in this category include Basmati and Jasmine, which you can find in grocery stores (more about these below). Glutinous rice (also called sticky, sweet, or waxy rice) has very low amylose (starch component) content, making it very sticky when cooked. 
  • Rice is also classified by its milling process. White rice has been milled the most, having had its hull (or husk), bran, and germ layers removed. Brown or whole grain rice has been milled to remove its hull, and rough or paddy rice has not been milled at all and cannot be consumed.
  • There is an abundance of different kinds of rice—globally, over 120,000 varieties. 
  • Rice cultivation is suited for countries with low labor costs and high rainfall as it is very labor-intensive and needs large amounts of water to grow. 

How to Pick, Buy & Eat

  • Brown rice is 100 percent whole grain and, therefore, the most nutritional of the many different forms. Brown rice retains the bran and germ because it is not milled as much as white rice, which loses a lot of nutrients in the milling process. However, brown rice takes longer to cook, about 45 minutes, compared to white rice, which takes 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Aromatic rices, named because they have distinct flavors and aromas (especially while cooking), include Basmati and Jasmine. Basmati is long-grained rice from India. It contains a compound also present in freshly baked bread and pandan spice and has nutty, spicy, and floral flavors. Jasmine rice is long-grained rice from Thailand and Cambodia. It also has the same compound found in Basmati rice and is similar but perhaps adds more of a grassy floral and slightly sweeter fragrance to a meal. Some people describe its flavor as close to popcorn. Jasmine is also stickier. 
  • Arborio is short-grained rice from Italy. Its grains remain firm when cooked and are chewy and creamy. Arborio rice is often used in making risotto and rice pudding because of its creamy texture and starchy taste that goes well with other flavors.
  • Rice is truly an international food, found in the cuisines of just about every country. It is often served as a side dish but can also be a vital component of main dishes and desserts.
  • Rice flour is made from finely ground rice. It is a thickening agent that prevents liquids from separating in refrigerated and frozen foods. Rice noodles used in many Asian dishes are made with rice flour, and you can also find it in desserts, like "mochi" and other rice cakes. It is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.

Nutrition

  • Rice is a complex carbohydrate with very little sodium or fat, and it supplies 20 percent of the world's food energy.
  • Rice contains several B vitamins and manganese. Brown or whole grain rice is more nutritious than white rice, but white rice is often enriched by adding some B vitamins and iron back in. Brown rice is also high in magnesium, phosphorus, protein, and fiber.

 

What is Spanakorizo?

Photo by William Maniatis (handwritten recipe from Bill's Greek mother)
  • Spanakorizo is a Greek spinach and rice dish that originated in Greece. The Greek word "spanakorizo" means "spinach with rice." It is considered comfort food but can be eaten either hot, warm, or cold. Along with the rice and spinach, spanakorizo always includes dill and is often topped with feta cheese. Other ingredients may consist of lemon, onion, or tomatoes (or tomato sauce).

Let's Learn About Greece!

Photo by NadyaEugene/Shutterstock.com

Ancient Greece

  • Ancient Greece was a civilization in the northeastern Mediterranean region that existed from about 1100 BCE to 600 CE. Democracy began there in Athens in the 5th century BCE.
  • The first Olympics were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the plains of Olympia. Ancient Olympic sports included running, chariot racing, mule-cart racing, boxing, discus throw, long jump, wrestling, and pankration, a wild cross between wrestling and boxing with no rules except biting and eye-gouging!
  • A few of the well-known figures from this period were: Alexander the Great, who ruled over the whole empire from 336 to 323 BCE; Hippocrates, a physician referred to as the Father of Medicine; Herodotus, called the Father of History, who wrote his "Histories" about the Greco-Persian wars; Socrates, considered the founder of Western Philosophy; Plato, an author and philosopher who founded the first academy of higher learning in the West; Aristotle, a student of Plato's who also founded a school of philosophy; and Thales, a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece.  

Modern Greece

  • Greece, in Southeast Europe, is officially called the Hellenic Republic. Its government is a unitary parliamentary republic with a president, prime minister, and parliament. The capital and largest city is Athens, and the official language is Greek.
  • Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 and was recognized as an independent country in 1830. 
  • The size of Greece is about the same as the US state of Alabama but has twice as many people, over 10.5 million. 
  • The country of Greece consists of 6,000 islands, but only 227 are inhabited. Nearly 80 percent of the country is hills and mountains. 
  • About four-fifths of the people live in urban areas in Greece, and almost everyone is literate.
  • Greece has three times the number of annual tourists (about 31 million) as residents. It is one of the most-visited countries.
  • Greece is the third-largest producer of peaches and the fifth-largest producer of olives in the world. 
  • In the past, most Greeks were farmers, and they ate the food that they grew. Since Greece had a mild climate, they could grow many different fruits and vegetables as long as they got enough rain. Vegetables were a considerable part of the Greek diet and still are. Most Greeks eat a Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of olive oil, legumes, fruits, veggies, grains, and fish. They generally consume less dairy and meat.
  • Greek cuisine includes "fasolada" (soup of white beans, olive oil, and veggies), "moussaka" (eggplant or potato dish with ground or minced meat), "souvlaki" (grilled meat on a skewer), and "gyros" (pita bread filled with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, veggies, and tzatziki sauce). 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Greece?

  • Greek kids have three stages of education: primary school for six years, gymnasium (junior high) for three years, and lyceum (senior high) for three years (this stage is not mandatory).
  • Kids may participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, and handball. 
  • There are many museums and ancient sites to explore in Greece. Families love being outdoors and enjoy hiking and going to the many beaches. 
  • There are several different sweets that Greek children enjoy. These include "pasteli" (sesame seed candy), "bougatsa" and "galaktoboureko" (phyllo pastries filled with semolina custard), and "baklava" (nut-filled phyllo pastry soaked in a honey syrup).

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the tomato blush? 

Because he saw the salad dressing!

The Yolk's On You

What did one rice say to the other rice? 

"I hope I see you a-grain!"

That's Berry Funny

What did Papa Spinach say to Baby Spinach? 

"Be-LEAF in yourself!"

THYME for a Laugh

What’s a dancer’s favorite kind of vegetable?

Spin-ach!

The Yolk's On You

Why are spinach leaves never lonely? 

Because they come in bunches!

That's Berry Funny

Did you hear the tall tale about rice? 

There wasn’t a grain of truth behind it!

That's Berry Funny

How do you fix a broken tomato? 

Tomato paste!

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