Spanakoryzo also written sanakorizo, pronounced spah-nah-KOH-reeh-zoh, is a traditional Greek vegetarian dish, made with spinach and rice.
Greek Farmers’ Market (Laiki agora = lah-eeh-KEY ah-gho-RHA)
In Athens, but also in most of the parts of Greece, once a week, every neighborhood has its farmers’ market, which is called “laiki agora” meaning peoples’ (popular) markets.
There you can find freshly cut, ripened-to-perfection fruits, vegetables, produce, herbs, fish, flowers, plants, clothes and household items.
Usually the marketplace occupies four or five roads and the stalls are put together from the crack of dawn and start disassembling after 3 p.m, once they have sold out.
Farmers’ Market in Greece
These street markets are organized by the local municipalities who determine where they will be set and usually the place is fixed.
The producers or the merchants selling their produce have their fixed spot and pay a due to the municipality. On its part, the municipality is responsible to provide them with mobile toilets, which they place in nearby streets, from the previous night and after the market finishes at about 4 p.m., immediately the garbage collectors pass and gather everything they have left behind and clean the roads and of course collect the toilets.
Most people prefer to go and do their shopping there as apart from everything being fresh, when it is near ending time they reduce the prices considerably, so that they can sell out and you can get the vegetables and fish really cheap. Of course that is the most crowded time. However, some products are still expensive even at the farmers’ markets.
Last Tuesday, which by the way is the day my neighbourhood has its street market, I spotted some really expensive things.
Chestnuts ranged from 6 – 9 euros a kilo, walnuts (in their shell) from 3 to 6 euros a kilo, mushrooms around 6 euros a kilo and stamnagathi (chicorium spinosun, a coastal chicory, a small tasty leaf which the Minoans used to serve up with oil and vinegar) which is a wild green found mainly in Crete was 12 euros a kilo.
No thanks! These were too expensive and we can wait until prices are cheaper.
I usually make supplies to last until the following week and this week among other things I bought spinach, which was cheap, to make spanakoryzo.
Spanakoryzo is a Greek vegan dish and means spinach and rice. This is a dish that our family loves and enjoys, especially during lent.
This is the traditional recipe for this delicious dish that is a warming and hearty meal but mostly nutritious and healthy and we usually serve it as a main dish but if you like you can serve it as a side dish as well.
A different Spanakoryzo
You can also make this dish without the addition of tomato but instead you can add some lemon juice. Just make it the same way you would normally make a risotto:
Blanch the spinach, drain and cut it into smaller pieces.
In a skillet saute the onion until translucent, add the garlic and mix until fragrant and then add the rice and mix to toast the rice.
Add the spinach and broth.
From here on we do not continue same way as risotto as we add all the broth and seasoning and mix until it is cooked, adding the herbs and lemon juice at the end.
No cheese is added.
The quantity of rice added depends on what you want to prevail in the dish. When my children were younger and did not like spinach, I used to add more rice but now we love it with less rice.
Update 30th October 2012: Depending on the availability of other aromatic herbs, we can add kafkalithres, myronia, wild fennel, seskoula (baby chard, called seskla in Argolida), koukakia (young leaves of fava beans) and vrouves, mustard greens (Sinapis arvensis).
Some useful tips
Tip No. 1: Add herbs towards the end as they keep all their aroma and flavor.
Tip No. 2: You can prepare the dish ahead and just before lunch heat it again and just add and cook the rice. If is best cook the rice last minutes as the longer it stays, the rice will continue to absorb the juices and it will become very dry.
Although, the following dish would not qualify to be called a “spanakoryzo”, however sometimes, instead of rice I like to add some bulgur to the spinach. Bulgur wheat is called “pligouri” in Greek, so this would be called “spanakopligouro”!!!
However, it is equally delicious!
- 750 grams fresh spinach (about 500 grams frozen)
- 1 cup Carolina rice (or any risotto rice)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup of dill, finely chopped
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- (Other optional herbs: kafkalithres, myronia or fennel)
- 5 ripe tomatoes or 1 can (500 gr.) whole tomatoes with juice, blended with 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 organic vegetable bouillon
Clean and wash the spinach. If leaves are big, remove the stem and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. If not place them whole in a big pot without adding any extra water (just the water which is still on the leaves) and place the pot on the heat, stirring for about 5 minutes, until the spinach wilts. (This will reduce the volume of the leaves and most of the water will drain easier). Drain and set aside. It is not necessary to thaw the frozen spinach.
Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant.
Add the spinach and mix a couple of times.
Add tomato and tomato paste, water, vegetable bouillon, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the rice and cook for 20 minutes, making sure to stir regularly until the rice is cooked. If necessary, add more hot water.
Finally and the herbs and mix.
Serve with Kalamata or green olives, feta cheese or with Greek yoghurt.
It is not necessary to thaw the frozen spinach.
The preparation time is for frozen spinach. You will need more time to clean and wash the fresh spinach.
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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,