Spinach and Rice Pilaf with Shrimp and Feta

January 26, 2011
By Holly Jennings

This is Georgia Cone’s family recipe for Spanakorizo, but with a twist. In this version, the classic spinach and rice pilaf is topped with cooked shrimp and feta cheese and baked until bubbling, to make a nourishing and very flavorful one-pot rice dish.

Georgia’s family likes to use converted rice for pilafs; she says that it holds up better after longer cooking times. For many years I’d thought converted rice was some sort of instant rice. Far from it. Converted rice has been parboiled and then toasted, which, despite it being partially precooked, makes it very hard—making it take longer to cook than regular rice, and hold its shape.

The ideal consistency of this pilaf is not dry but moist. If not all of the broth has been absorbed when the rice is done, use a slotted spoon to serve the pilaf. On the other hand, says Georgia, if there is a little bit of the flavorful liquid on each person’s plate, it’s a treat to sop it up with crusty bread. When she has a small amount of pilaf leftover, Georgia likes to add it to broth to make an instant, nourishing soup.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup chopped onions

3 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped fresh dill (see note)

1 (14.5-oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes (with liquid)

½ cup dry white wine

2¾ cups water or homemade vegetable broth or 1½ (14.5-oz) cans vegetable broth, divided

1 cup Uncle Ben’s converted rice long-grain rice or regular long-grain rice

1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and chopped, or 1½ (10-oz) packages frozen chopped or leaf spinach, thawed and drained

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

1 pound large shrimp, par-boiled, peeled, and rinsed

1 cup sliced or crumbled feta cheese

Lemon slices, for serving

Plain yogurt, for serving

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. In a Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil and butter over medium heat until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the parsley, dill, tomatoes, and wine. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat to let the flavors meld and the wine reduce.

3. Add 1¾ cups of the water or broth or 1 can of broth and the rice and increase the heat to high. When bubbling, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat. Check the rice for doneness, and, if not tender, cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. If all of the liquid has been absorbed, add a little water or broth.

4. When the rice is tender, add the spinach and the remaining 1 cup of water or broth or ½ can of broth. Steam, covered, until the spinach is cooked but still bright green, about 8 minutes.

5. When the spinach is cooked, remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and gently turn the steamed spinach into the pilaf. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

6. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Turn the pilaf into a large baking pan (about 9 x 12 inches).

7. Arrange the shrimp across the top of the pilaf. Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly on top. Cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is heated and mixture is bubbling.

8. Serve hot or room temperature with lemon slices and yogurt and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if using.

Note: If fresh dill is out of season, the best alternative is a packaged chopped dill blend available in tubes and sold in the produce section of grocery stores. Once opened, it should be refrigerated. Use 2 tablespoons of the dill blend for this recipe.

TIP: Georgia shared an amazing tip with me during our pilaf cooking morning: Lemons can be frozen whole! I’d never heard of this before. Lemon are used abundantly in Greek cooking, so when she sees a good deal on lemons she buys lots of them, and rather than worry about using them all up before they go bad, she places them in the freezer—not bagged, where ever they fit it. She showed me one of her previously frozen lemons and it looked just like a fresh one.

2 Comments to “Spinach and Rice Pilaf with Shrimp and Feta”

  1. Made this tonight for dinner. A nice one-dish meal! The kids ate it heartily.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Jackie. I’m very glad you liked the recipe. I’ll let Georgia know her recipe was enjoyed by all.


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