Don’t be scared. Say it with me: SpanaKOrizo.
“Spa”, as in: Hahaha! Remember when you used to go to the spa for a massage instead of cleaning diaper blowouts?
“Na”, as in: “I’m NOt going to pick up my toys!”
“Ko”, as in: The COpious amounts of times in a fifteen minute span you hear the word “Mommy”. (I counted today — 30 between the two of them, no joke.)
“Rizo”, as in: I’m hungRY ZO I’m going to eat my kids’ leftovers over the sink again.
Or whatever… just call it Greek Spinach Rice. (But it’ll really impress your friends if you pronounce it phonetically when you bring it to a potluck.)
I have such great memories of Spanakorizo, it was one of my favorite foods to eat and was prepared a lot during Lent. It was several of a group of recipes my mom labeled “Greek Soul Food” — not that she ever cooked Spanakorizo. Cooking was mainly done by my Yiayia (Grandmother) and years later, as an adult, my Thea (Aunt) showed me how to make it with a twist — by adding a little can of tomato sauce, or V8 juice.
The original recipe calls for long grain rice, and I used to make it that way (or with short grain or with brown rice or any combination therein and adjust cooking time). Then, there were the bunches of spinach that would have to be soaked and drained a few times in the (clean) sink or a large pot to clear out all the dirt/sand. That was pre-baby days, though. Nowadays, the family has neither the time or patience to wait an hour or more for dinner.
So, I’ve simplified it… given us a shortcut or two. And that is: frozen rice and pre-washed baby spinach. It’s a total lifesaver, albeit more expensive. I don’t really care which frozen rice you use, but we happen to use Whole Foods 365 Frozen Thai Jasmine Rice and it imparts a slightly sweet flavor along with the browned onions that’s really nice.
So nice in fact, that my husband and I ate an entire pot of it before we had to do kid pick-ups. They were none the wiser except for a bit of spinach stuck between my front teeth.
If you chop your onion and mince your garlic ahead of time, you’re looking at a meal that’s ready in about 20 minutes.
Greek Spinach Rice Spanakorizo
7 oz Pre-washed Baby Spinach
12 oz Frozen Rice
1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Prep your onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of a large sized pot/dutch oven with olive oil and heat on high. When the oil is ready, add your onion and sauteé until translucent. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and spinach; stir to combine and reduce the spinach. While the spinach is reducing, cook your frozen rice according to package directions. (I will sometimes cook by about a minute less since I know I’m adding to the pot and it’ll continue cooking with the spinach.)
Once the spinach has reduced and is tender, add in your rice and stir together. Keep on the heat for another minute, add your salt to taste, serve and enjoy!
(If you want to add the tomato sauce, I think the right time would be when you add the spinach as it’s reducing. You’ll also want to add a pinch or two of sugar, or a comparable sweetener, since it balances the acidity/tartness of the tomato sauce.)