spanakorizo recipe

Recipe by Cathy Collins

 I wish I could say my hiatus in writing (and cooking) was because I spent some time exploring the Ancient Ruins of Greece or sailing the Mediterranean.  Sadly, it wasn’t.  Life just has a way of handing us detours once in a while.  Mine did, but I am back on track.

This recipe comes from having a fairly empty cupboard.  With life so busy, I was down to a few bags of the Soy Rice Casserole from the Kids Against Hunger program (http://kidsagainsthunger.org/our-food/ ), several cans of spinach and some ground pork courtesy of the TEFAP program (http://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/about-tefap) .

I struggle with this soy rice casserole. On its own, there isn’t much flavor.  Nutritionally, you really don’t have to add anything to it.  I didn’t want to cook it and eat it just by itself.  As a side dish, there is really too much.  Sifting out the rice or using only a small portion of the package (which I have tried) proves to be an exercise in futility. I honestly don’t mind the textured soy protein or dried vegetables. The vitamin and mineral powder really doesn’t have enough flavor of its own to interfere with any dish I might want to make.  It’s easier just to use it as it is.

Canned spinach is another thing difficult item to find a use for and I’d love to use up some of it.  I do like spinach, fresh, frozen, in salads, in quesadilla, plain, sautéed, creamed, almost any way you can imagine, but I have never been a big fan of the canned variety. Still, it is good for you and it does keep.  I take things like this when offered because I know I’ll find a use for it … eventually.

What to do? What to do?

Then it dawned on me… I remembered my childhood and how much I enjoyed visiting some of my mother’s friends who were first generation Americans.   Their parents were Greek immigrants.  I remember the smell of YaYa’s (Greek for Grandmother) kitchen; lemony, herby, savory and creamy all at once.  As a child, I tried many traditional Greek dishes, things like Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Avgolemono soup (Greek Lemon Rice soup), Tzatziki (cucumber, onion and yogurt sauce) on Gyros (lamb sandwiches on pita bread), and all sorts of other dishes, but one of my favorites was always Spanakorizo (a spinach and rice dish).

Oooo, perfect.  Rice, spinach and lemons!  I’m sure I have a few dried herbs from the Veggie Drop (https://www.facebook.com/veggiedrop) at the LUM/St. John’s Food Pantry (http://www.lafayetteurbanministry.org/food.html).  I try to keep a bottle of lemon juice on hand. My herb and spice cabinet is stocked.  When I do spend money on food, I make sure to buy culinary herbs.  There are several I consider essential, but that is for another time.  For now, let’s see what I can do with this!

YaYa has long since passed away and I haven’t seen the rest of that family in decades.  Sadly, I do not have access to YaYa’s recipe, but I remember the taste.   With no Greek matriarch to pass along her recipes, the internet is the next best option.  To give credit where credit is due, my spanakorizo dish is based largely on the one I found here on a blog called “A Family Feast” (http://www.afamilyfeast.com/greek-rice-spanakorizo/).  This is as close to YaYa’s spanakorizo as I could find.

Fair warning, this recipe makes a lot! That’s a good thing; life is still pretty busy and I don’t have time to cook every night.  Leftovers are just fine with me!

Opa!

Spanakorizo

You will need:

1 pkg. Kids Against Hunger Soy-Rice Casserole (or 2 ½ c. rice)

3-3 1/2 C. chicken broth (approx. 2 small cans)

2-3 tsp minced garlic

1-2 tsp dried oregano

1-2 tsp dried thyme

1-2 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin

1 tsp. coriander seeds or ground coriander

1 13.5 oz. can spinach (slightly drained)

½ c. lemon juice

1 lb. ground pork

Salt and pepper to taste

spanakorizo pantry ingr FF blog 07292015

spanakorizo other ingr FF blog 07292015

Directions:

Step 1:

Grind dried herbs in a mortar and pestle or crush between your fingers to release the oils and flavor.

Brown ground pork in a large stock pot.  Add garlic, salt, pepper and dried herbs as the meat is cooking.

Remove from heat.

Drain meat and set aside.

spanakorizo mortar and pestal FF blog 07292015

Step 2:

Brown ground pork in a large stock pot.  Add garlic, salt, pepper and dried herbs as the meat is cooking.

Remove from heat.

Drain meat and set aside.

 

spanakorizo brown pork FF blog 07292015

 

Step 3:

Add soy-rice casserole (or plain rice) to stock pot.

Cook gently for 3-5 minutes to slightly brown the rice.

spanakorizo soy-rice casserole FF blog 07292015

Step 4:

Add chicken broth, lemon juice, and canned spinach.

Stir to distribute spinach evenly throughout the mixture.

Bring to boil and cook for 3-5 min.

Reduce heat to a simmer.

Add ground pork and herb mixture.

Cover and simmer until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

Serve as a main dish or side dish

spanakorizo add liquid and spinach FF blog 07292015

ENJOY!

spanakorizo Opa! FF blog 07292015 

 

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