When you ask your 9 year old what their favorite meal is, do they come back telling you something with vegetables? Well, my 9 year old will tell you time and time again that her favorite meal is a Lebanese dish that consists of Spinach and Rice, Sabanegh be-riz. Like many Lebanese meals, simple ingredients create the most flavorful meal. The idea of using simple, wholesome and inexpensive ingredients is important, especially when feeding a large family.
Fresh beef – inexpensive cut like petite sirloin
Frozen spinach – fresh can be used but you’d need A LOT, frozen is more ideal
Rice – I prefer Jasmine rice
Chicken broth (or water)
Salt + Pepper
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
It all starts with the rice for us. I swear my parents must use a stick of butter in their rice to make it taste so incredibly good! I won’t have you use that much, but a little butter goes a long way and makes for the most tender and delicate rice. Another difference in Lebanese rice is that it consists of vermicelli noodles, medium grain rice (I like using jasmine rice) and butter or olive oil. You can find the noodles locally at a Middle Eastern market and sometimes in the Hispanic food section of your grocery store.
In a non-stick pot, I melt my butter and add in the vermicelli noodles and let them brown. It is so deliciously fragrant, but be sure to watch and not let them burn. My mom used to make extra for us and add some sugar as a little sweet treat, so good!!! Once the noodles have browned, add in your rinsed rice and let them get coated with the butter and begin to smell fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Next add your water, lower heat, cover and set timer for 20 minutes. Once the rice is done, remove from heat and leave covered for 10-15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
I have my go-to large skillet that I use for so many of my meals. It’s large enough to cook a good sized meal for the whole family. So grab one of your large skillets to start.
Heat up your skillet on medium-high and add your olive oil then add your chopped onions and let them begin to sweat. Next, add your chopped meat and continuously stir. Once browned, add in your first cup of water or broth, let the meat cook until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding in water or broth as it becomes absorbed. It usually takes about 45 minutes or so until your you use all the liquid. Your meat should be nice and tender by this point. Next, add in your frozen spinach and the remaining liquid. Let the spinach soften in the juices. Season with salt and pepper to desired taste.
Place a bed of rice on a dish, top with spinach mixture, squeeze fresh lemon on top and top with toasted pine nuts if desired.
This meal is simple enough for a weeknight meal but elegant enough for a weekend dinner party!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! As always, I love seeing your creations. Please leave a review or share your dish with me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. For more delicious recipes to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Simple peasant meal for an easy and wholesome meal.
2 cups Jasmine rice or similar, rinsed
1/3 cup vermicelli noodles* see note to keep gluten free
2 tbsp salted butter
4 cups of water or broth
Spinach + Meat
1 lb meat; petite sirloin works well, diced into small pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cups of water or beef/chicken broth (divided 4+2)
24 oz bag of frozen spinach
Salt + Pepper
Toasted pine nuts**
Begin by rinsing your rice. You’ll want to soak in water for about 15-20 minutes and then drain and rinse to be sure the water runs clear. Removing the extra starch allows the rice to be much fluffier and not stick together. Continue rinsing and draining until the water runs clear.
In a non-stick pot, melt butter and add in the vermicelli noodles, let them brown while stirring constantly so they don’t burn.
Once the noodles have browned, add in your rinsed rice and let them get coated with the butter and begin to smell fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
Next add your 4 cups of water bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to low. Set timer for 20 minutes.
Once the rice is done, remove from heat and leave covered for 10-15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Spinach + Meat
Place large skillet onto burner on medium-high heat. Add olive oil.
Once oil is warm, add chopped onions and let them begin to sweat, 5-8 minutes.
Next, add your chopped meat and continuously stir.
Once browned, add in your first cup of water or broth, let the meat cook until the liquid is absorbed.
Add in your next cup of water or broth. Continue adding in water or broth as it becomes absorbed. You’ll want to use 4 cups total, it should take about 45 minutes. (reserve the other 2 cups)
Next, add in your frozen spinach and the remaining 2 cups of liquid. Let the spinach soften in the juices.
Season with salt and pepper to desired taste. I don’t specify the amount because depending on if you choose to use water or broth, it will change the amount. Always start with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and add more from there to taste.
Plate bed of rice, add spinach mixture and squeeze lemon on top. Add toasted pine nuts if desired. Enjoy!
**Toasted pine nuts are a delicious added treat to this meal. Melt a little butter in a pan and add pine nuts until they brown and are fragrant. Remove and use as a topping.
Omit vermicelli noodles to keep dish gluten free
Keywords: spinach and rice, rice, Lebanese, meat stew, spinach stew, Lebanese meat and spinach stew, healthy, gluten free