As the days start to get longer, my body has been craving leafy greens. This Greek Spinach Rice with Dill, Feta & Olives hits the spot as a vibrant, healthy, satisfying side dish and is absolutely packed with flavor. This recipe calls for a huge mountain of spinach and only a cup of rice, so the finished dish has more vegetables than rice, more luscious than a pilaf. About 15 years ago this was one of my favorite side dishes to make for dinner parties. I completely forgot about the recipe until I was flipping through an old favorite cookbook, Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Grains and Greens, and I saw a handwritten star on this page. I made it again last night for a dinner party and it was a favorite all over again.
I have made a few of my own tweaks to the original recipe, doubling the recipe for a crowd and leftovers, increasing the aromatics & dill, using tomato paste instead of cooking down fresh pureed tomatoes, and being flexible on the variety of olives. Leftovers are spectacular as is, but also wonderful scrambled into eggs and added to breakfast tacos or burritos.
greek spinach rice with dill, feta & olives
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 bunches scallions (white and light green parts)
1 large onion
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup basmati rice
2 large bunches dill
2-3 pounds fresh spinach
salt and pepper
for the garnish:
chunks of feta
good quality olives of your choice
Finely chop the onion. Thinly slice the scallions. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, Dutch oven, or large straight-sided skillet. Add the scallions, onions, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. When the water evaporates, slowly let the onions & scallions turn golden, stirring occasionally. This process of braising scallions and onion in water before sautéing will make them soft and velvety.
Add 2 cups water, the tomato paste, and rice. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, chop the dill and spinach. Then spread the dill and spinach over the rice, cover, and cook 10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, mix gently, then place a double-thickness of paper towels over the rice, cover with the lid, and let stand until room temperature. Then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
To serve, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a generous amount of feta chunks and good quality olives. This time I used pretty mixed pitted olives from the Persian deli and cut them in half, but you can also use whole olives.