Spinach and rice casserole (Sabanegh be-roz)

February 25, 2010  •  Category:

You know what happens when you are a child and you are not particularly welcome in the kitchen? You start to rely on your sense of smell to give you an indication ofwhat is going on! For instance, if you smell ghee (samneh) sizzling in the pot, you know a stew is being made and it is in the early stages. If the kitchen is filled with the smell of garlic and cilantro, then you know  you are going to get to eat soon!

Spinach and rice casserole is a homey dish for everyday cooking. What makes it exquisite is the cilantro pesto that is added to it, that distinctive flavor from the Lebanese kitchen, which gives it the deliciousness factor. An easy and relatively fast meal, 100% satisfying and healthy.


  • 12 ounces package of frozen spinach or a fresh bag of spinach
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt in a mortar (use less if you wish!)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • Spices: salt, pepper, pinch of allspice and cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups of Basmati rice (or any other long-grain rice)
  • olive oil

Garnish: a handful of pine nuts.

Serve with yogurt.

Serve as the main event for meatless days.

NOTE: In order for this meal to be fast and easy, you should prepare the cilantro pesto in advance. So, the day before or 6 months before, wash and chop the cilantro leaves; peel the garlic cloves and mash them in a mortar with some salt  till pasty. Fry a little olive oil in a small skillet and drop the garlic and cilantro and fry for two minutes, no more! Gather the cilantro and garlic to make a paste and collect in a jar with the olive oil. Freeze or keep in the fridge till needed.


  1. In a large pot, heat some olive oil; add the onion.
  2. Fry the onion till wilted and golden. Add the spinach and cook, cover the pot, over low heat, for 5 minutes till done. Add the rice and fry for 30 seconds to coat the rice in fat.
  3. Add water to the rice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pot, add the cilantro pesto and mix well. You will continue the cooking for a few minutes until all the water is gone and the rice mixture is infused with the garlic/cilantro flavor.
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve warm with a bowl of yogurt on the side, or skip the yogurt if vegan.



38 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Mamounette85 says:

    ton petit dôme de riz me convient bien… Cependant, les épinards de mon enfance, surtout ceux de l’école, m’ont laissé un goût amer inoubliable !
    J’ai de supers souvenirs d’enfance grâce aux bonnes odeurs de cuisine !

  2. Nathalie says:

    Un plat très complet : légumes et féculents … Belle présentation ! J’adore !

  3. Rachana Kothari says:

    I simply love rice with spinach:) its so healthy, yummy and nutritious:)

  4. Rosa says:

    Very healthy and delicious!



  5. Kristin Kunoff says:

    Love, Love, LOVE the new look!

  6. zerrin says:

    This looks like a wonderful combination. I do love eating yogurt with rice, and the ingredients in it makes the dish unique.

  7. Simply Life says:

    wow that rice looks deeelicious!

  8. Dinners & Dreams says:

    Lovely dish, Joumana. I love creative rice recipes.
    I tagged you to play a game of tag about your top three favorite places. Check my “soggy afternoon” post for details.



  9. Dinners & Dreams says:

    Btw, I love the new look of your blog-very tasty.

  10. Faith says:

    I bet the flavor of this dish is so bright and refreshing! I love how you could tell how long until dinner just by smelling it! 🙂

  11. Bo says:

    Wow!!!! What a beautiful way to elevate humble rice.

  12. Sushma Mallya says:

    wow so gorgeous,so nicely u present the dish, very professional and recipe is just so awesome and seems very healthy as well

  13. sophia says:

    ooh! Yogurt would go very nicely with this!

    You know, I just saw your full profile pic…and you look SO much like my Iranian Health Promotions professor…she’s gorgeous, by the way, and so are you! 🙂

  14. SathyaSrihdar says:

    Looks delicious, really i want to try this recipe today itself. it’s very good for the health.

  15. rajani@eatwritethink says:

    love spinach rice and joumana the new look is beautiful! love it!!!

  16. Priya says:

    Lovely presentation and an hearty dish to enjoy without any guilt…Awesome!!

  17. Kate at Serendipity says:

    This looks so wonderful. I love the idea of cilantro pesto. I’ve never made it with cilantro, but I don’t know why not! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  18. heni says:

    I have not visited here in a while, how crazy of me- to miss so much! I love this dish really Joumana, everything about it; the colours to the flavours!

  19. Juanita says:

    I do so enjoy pesto – my favourite is traditional basil pesto with a pine nut/parmesan base. I feel a little like Adam Sandler’s Zohan character with his hummus some days (I’d probably draw the line at brushing my teeth with pesto though) 🙂

  20. Ivy says:

    This looks lovely Joumana. Quite different from the Greek Spanakoryzo. I love the addition of cilantro in it. Is this a side dish or is it served as a main dish?
    Love the new look of your blog.

  21. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella says:

    It’s so true! I used to get excited when I could smell the onions, garlic and chicken of my favourite noodles. This looks absolutely wonderful!

  22. Asmaa says:

    Un plat bien équilibré

  23. 5 Star Foodie says:

    A fabulous dish and I just love the presentation – so gorgeous!

  24. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    One thing I can say for sure, is that you’re really making me want to go to Lebanon. This is something that not even the cutest guy in my office (who was half Lebanese) achieved!

  25. Barbara says:

    Nice new look, Joumana! I love the light colors!
    And your rice dish is divine. It will be nice to try a cilantro pesto rather than my old basil pesto!

  26. Mamatkamal says:

    Ce plat est magnifique, tres sain et ca doit etre delicieux. J’aime la facon comment tu l’as presente aussi. Merci pour la recette et passes une tres bonne fin de semaine.

  27. Julie says:

    J’adore la coriandre, je suis bien tentée par ton plat! Ca m’a l’air super!
    Gros bisous.

  28. peter says:

    I love spinach & rice ( a popular Greek dish). A simple thing like a mold can change the presentation. This is exotic at the very least.

  29. MaryMoh says:

    Oh…..found it….phew! This is such a healthy and delicious rice! I really like it. I have quite a similar family dish but cooked in soup. I would love to try it dry like this. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Joanne says:

    Having a good sense of smell is DEFINITELY critical. I love the scent of cilantro…it is probably my favorite herb (basil is going to be very upset with me for saying that, but what can you do). This dish looks delicious.

  31. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best says:

    This rice looks absolutely delicious! I’m definitely going to be making this recipe!

  32. TastyTrix says:

    Well, so “casserole” for me evokes a heavy cheesy dish, not the light and beautiful thing you have shown here… blame my upbringing. So maybe this is the Platonic ideal of a casserole? I am going to vote yes on that.

  33. Michelle says:

    I just can’t seem to get enough rice lately and it always taste so good to me. Love the idea of spinach and rice! Gorgeous presentation too!

  34. Mimi says:

    What a delicious and healthy rice dish.

  35. PJ says:

    Such a nice presentation!!!I am sure to try this as hubby is a huge fan of anything green[in veggies ie:]

  36. lathabiju says:

    Awesome presentation……loved the spinach rice as well.

  37. April says:

    This was so delicious. I love the idea to make a cilantro pesto to freeze for future use. I always buy in bulk but don’t often have enough foods to use it all up while it’s fresh. Next time I make this, I’ll double the spinach to increase the veg:rice ratio. I added a can of chickpeas and that was a hit plus an added protein. I served with yogurt and pickles. This is definitely going to be on our table on a regular basis. No one missed the meat, either!

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