Green and white, sprightly and clean, this is a rustic dish that can practically be a meal.
Reserve the spinach crowns to use in another dish; or steam them, dress them with olive oil and pile them over the rice.
If you prefer brown rice, try brown basmati. Forbidden black rice is another delicious alternative.
Rice with Spinach, Lemon, Feta and Pistachios
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 large bunches (2 pounds) spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, cut into slivers
Grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tablespoons)
1 heaping tablespoon chopped dill or marjoram
2 ounces or more feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted (see note)
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon of salt; stir well. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, discard any tough spinach stems. Plunge the leaves into plenty of cold water and wash them well – twice if need be – then dry.
Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat; once the garlic begins to turn pale gold and flavor the oil, discard the garlic, then add the spinach and a few pinches of salt. Cook until the spinach has wilted, which will happen rather quickly; then turn off the heat. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, chop it and transfer it a mixing bowl, along with the lemon zest and dill. Toss to incorporate.
Uncover the rice and use a fork to fluff it, then transfer the rice to the mixing bowl and toss to incorporate. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add the feta and pistachios and toss again. Season with black pepper and a few pinches of the crushed red pepper flakes.
Serve immediately, or let cool a bit.
Note: Toast the pistachio nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely.
The rice tastes best when served right away, but it can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
– Adapted from “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes,” by Deborah Madison (Ten Speed Press, 2013).
350 calories, 12g fat, 4g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, 410mg sodium, 49g carbohydrates, 7g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 14g protein.