spetzofai + spanakorizo
By: Eleni Saltas
Spetzofai is a hearty sausage and pepper dish that plays tribute to the cooking style from the island of Spetses. Often credited as originating in the Pelion region of Greece, spetzofai is one of the only Greek dishes that is meant to be spicy which can be done by adding chili flakes or paprika, using hotter peppers or picking a spicy sausage. Spice up your spetzofai all three ways and we can dine together. On a lighter side, spanakorizo (spinach and rice) is a classic vegetarian meal made of just that—spinach and rice—plus herbs, spices and lemon. Both come together in one pot. Both dishes are certainly great on their own. But, after watching a Gordon Ramsay episode where he made a sausage and rice dish it reminded me of spetzofai but with rice—and missing lemon and spinach—like in spanakorizo. So I decided to merge the two myself, making spetzorizo.
In a pot, start off with the spetzofai building blocks: brown the meat, sauté the peppers and onions, and add your spices. A sauce and a slow simmer would come next, but now rice is added to bring the elements of spanakorizo into the mix. After the rice gets a quick sear, a splash of wine washes the pan. With some extra liquid of broth or water—the pot is then set to simmer until the rice is tender. The greens (spinach, green onions, dill and parsley) are mixed in towards the end of the cooking process to brighten the dish. And what plays well with spicy and spinach? That’s right, a squeeze of lemon. Spetzorizo is a winning meal that’s as colorful as the rainbow. Try it Gordon… and all of you, too.
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound sausage (I like a thick country sausage or spicy Italian)
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
2 bell peppers (vary for color), sliced
1 jalapeno (optional), deseeded and lightly diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano, or more to taste
A dash of chili flakes
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup long grain rice
¼ cup white wine
1 ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, grated
6 spring green onions, sliced
8 ounces spinach
½ bunch of fresh dill
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Parsley, for garnish (optional)
Feta cheese (optional)
Step by Step Instructions
Remove the casings of the sausage and cut into rounds. Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the red onion and sauté until tender. Add peppers and garlic and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. I don’t like to cook the peppers too long here to maintain a bit of crispness, plus they will soften later in liquid.
Turn up the heat slightly and add the sausage and cook until brown on all sides. Season generously with salt, pepper, oregano, and chili flakes.
Add the rice and sauté in pan for 2 minutes to sear the flavors. Deglaze the pan with wine and cook down until the liquid evaporates. Add the broth, grated tomatoes and season generously with salt, pepper and oregano. Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the rice is tender. Check and stir occasionally and add more liquid if necessary.
Remove the lid, check for seasoning and stir in the green onions and allow to cook together for 3-5 minutes. If the liquid has evaporated, remove from heat and stir in the spinach, dill, lemon zest and lemon juice. I like to add the greens at the end to keep the dish looking fresh.
Allow to stand for 5-7 minutes to absorb any remaining liquid.
Serve warm with feta and garnish with parsley if desired.