This is, quite simply, my ultimate comfort food. It is something I adored as a child and still do. Although I have now been making this for myself for years, it is still something I will always ask my mother to make for me, because frankly hers always has the special taste of comfort for me.

Very similar to the Greek “spanakorizo” but with a few more Balkan traits, specifically the addition of sweet paprika and tomatoes. We call it simply “spanak” or “spanańá” (which just means spinach) and we generally eat it as a hot main, accompanied by yoghurt and sometimes fried eggs. Some like to bake it in the oven and top it with eggs, almost like a shakshuka, but I prefer it risotto style. Some add meat, but I prefer the meatless version. It makes for a quick and healthy family meal.

Hope you enjoy it.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sunflower or olive oil

  • 3-4 spring onions or 1 medium white onion, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (or one grated tomato, skinless)

  • 150g risotto rice (arborio, carnaroli or pudding rice)

  • 200-250g fresh baby spinach (washed and preferably de-stalked if you have time)

  • 500-750ml vegetable stock

  • Salt + black pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, sweat the onion in the oil on a medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Lower the heat and add the sweet paprika and tomato and combine with the onion, stir constantly for 1 minute – be careful not to burn the paprika. Loosen the mixture with a little of the stock if you need to.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat it in the onion-paprika-tomato mix.
  • Start adding your vegetable stock little by little (don’t add it all in at once, I use a soup ladle to keep topping up). Keep adding it as the rice absorbs it and keep stirring your rice on a low to medium heat making sure it never “catches”/sticks at the bottom.
  • When the rice starts to get translucent add your washed and de-stalked spinach leaves. Keep adding stock if you need to and keep stirring, cooking as you would a risotto, until the rice is almost translucent and creamy, with a little bit of bite left, and the spinach has wilted down.
  • Serve with a fried egg if you’d like, and yoghurt, white cheese, lovely fresh salad and bread.