I have an embarrassing number of cookbooks, a number I won’t reveal here. There are a few I’ve never made a single recipe from and others that are literally in pieces because I’ve used them so much.
Because I like to keep up with innovative techniques and newly discovered ingredients, I often skew toward my newer books. As a result, my old favorite recipes often get buried deep in the unreachable areas of my brain. Last week, as I was looking through my fridge I realized there was some spinach and feta cheese I needed to use.
This is a common combination, especially in Greek cuisine. I could easily have gone the direction of spanakopita—a chance to play with phyllo dough. But for some reason, an old fave popped into my head—Spinach Dill Rice from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2 by Anna Thomas.
This is an easy, satisfying meal that can be made relatively quickly, in the time it takes to cook rice. It was a staple in my recipe repertoire 30 years ago, but I’d forgotten about it until last week. It was just as tasty as I’d remembered.
I used long-grain brown rice, which takes a bit longer to cook than white rice (from the original recipe), but I prefer the earthier flavor. When the difference in timing is just 15 minutes or so, it’s worth it.
The original recipe was written before there was such a thing as triple-washed spinach. If you want to cut your labor down significantly, go for spinach that you don’t have to wash. Also, because this recipe is 30 years old, it suggests way more salt and oil than I use now. The recipe below reflects the tweaks I made to modify this.
You can make this recipe vegan by cutting out the feta and adding the juice of one lemon, along with some lemon zest.
Meatless Monday: Spinach Dill Rice
- 1 pound fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups long grain brown rice (I used brown basmati.)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta.)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (Optional: I didn’t use this, and I don’t feel it lacked for flavor.)
Put it together:
- Place the rice and water in a medium sauce pan with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until done, about 40 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, wash and trim the spinach (unless, it’s already been washed), and then mince it. Mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a skillet. When it’s hot add the spinach and garlic, along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, dill weed, vinegar and black pepper.
- Cook for about 10 minutes, until the spinach is cooked down to a thick purée.
- When the rice is done, add the spinach to the rice and mix thoroughly.
- Add the feta and parmesan (if using).