If you had told me that spinach and rice made a great combination; I might not have believed you. But while looking for ways to use my spring harvest of dill, I noticed a recipe combining spinach and rice along with dill and feta/Parmesan cheese. It’s from the cookbook, Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two. I’m not sure what region or type of cuisine this might be from; but it’s an interesting way to cook spinach and I’m trying to find creative ways to increase vegetables in my diet.
The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2
The recipe is from a cookbook of the 1980’s and follows the highly successful Vegetarian Epicure written by Anna Thomas. The two cookbook series (The Vegetarian Epicure and The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2) were really the first cookbooks available in the 1970’s and 1980’s for cooks who were interested in sophisticated and creative vegetarian dining. These cookbooks opened up a whole new world for me.
I still use the cookbook recipes and enjoy browsing through the books from time to time — just for fun and new ideas. All the recipes are easily made–not a lot of exotic ingredients–and the instructions are down to earth and easy to follow. More about the cookbooks and author, Anna Thomas, are on last week’s blog as well as a list of the other cookbooks she has written since these two were published.
I’m trying to find ways to creatively increase vegetables in my diet. There are many ways to cook spinach in addition to boiled spinach. For example, I have learned to like spinach in salads, creamed spinach casseroles and even in soups. This recipe seemed like a rather unique way to cook spinach and I thought I’d give it a try. And I really like the spinach and rice combination — wow, it is hard to quit eating this dish; that won’t help me loose weight!
The spinach is added to cooked long grain rice and sprinkled with feta and Parmesan cheeses on top. This dish can be served with other foods for vegetarian meal. However, I served this with Chicken Shawarma — it worked well, too.
Growing Dill in Louisiana
Dill is a pungent herb that adds distinctive flavor to any dish that it is added to. It’s a medicinal herb and has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. (But I don’t think there’s enough dill in the recipe to impart any sort of healing powers.)
Dill grows well in a Louisiana garden. it’s actually a cool weather plant, and is generally planted in the autumn or very early spring. You don’t have to do much to care for the plants; they just seem to grow by themselves in a sunny location — getting to be about 4 feet tall with flowering seed pods. Here are some small dill plants.
The tender leaves can be used in recipes. As the plant matures, flowers form seed pods; I have an abundance this year from two plants. These seeds can be stored for months; I store them on top of my refrigerator in either a paper bag or sealed plastic container.
This is a great recipe; not difficult to make. Glad I’m finding some new ways to use both spinach and dill. I’ve made it several times and froze the leftovers (without the cheeses). Makes a quick way to fix a meal — it is easy to reheat later on.
Spinach and Dill Rice
- 1 lb fresh spinach
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 tsp dried dill weed
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- fresh-ground black pepper to taste
- 4 cups water
- 1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
- 1/2 cup fresh crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
Method and Steps:
- Wash and trim the spinach and mince it.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and add the minced spinach and minced garlic to it.
- Season the spinach with 1/2 tsp of the salt, the dill weed, vinegar and some black pepper. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. All the excess liquid should have evaporated, leaving a thick puree.
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium-large saucepan and stir in the remaining 1-1/2 tsp salt. Add the rice and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and leave the rice to cook over very low heat for 25 minutes. The rice will absorb all the water.
- Add the spinach mixture and toss lightly with two spoons until the rice and spinach are blended. Cover once more and leave over low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Toss together the 2 cheeses. Spoon the spinach rice onto a warmed platter. Sprinkle it with the cheese, and serve immediately.
Recipe is from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book 2, ©1984 Alfred A. Knopf: New York, and used with permission by the author, Anna Thomas.