Lebanese spinach stew is hearty, warming, and delicious. Using minimal ingredients and can be made in around 30 minutes. Best served with Lebanese Rice.
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What Is Lebanese Spinach Stew?
Lebanese spinach stew is known in Arabic as sabanekh wa riz, which translates to spinach with rice.
Traditionally it is made with ground beef meatballs that have been browned and then added to the stewed spinach.
Up until a few years ago, this is how my family ate it.
As a kid, I would try and pack in as many meatballs into my bowl, they were so good!
Nowadays, I make Lebanese vegan spinach stew, I have replaced the meat with chickpeas, and it's delicious!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Lebanese spinach stew makes a great family meal as it’s filling and inexpensive.
- It’s also fabulous as a leftover meal. I especially enjoy mopping the tasty leftover juices with some bread.
- Relatively easy to make, it's chop and drop.
- Dietary friendly - vegan, gluten free, soy free, corn free
Spinach Stew Ingredients
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Fresh English spinach is my preference for making this stew. As I love cooking with as much fresh produce as possible. The spinach leaves and stalks will need to be chopped small. (Frozen spinach can be used also)
Canned chickpeas are used in this vegan spinach stew in place of beef. If you'd like to see a meat version, check this one out by The Salt and Sweet.
Coriander (cilantro) is finely chopped or minced and adds a lovely flavor to this stew when combined with freshly crushed garlic and finely diced onion.
Olive oil is used to fry off the onion, garlic and coriander (cilantro) however if you are on an oil free diet this can easily be left out and replaced with water frying.
Vegetable stock or bouillon with water to boost the flavor profile of the entire dish.
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
Fresh lemon juice is used to finish off Lebanese spinach stew, it adds a bright sourness. Feel free to add as much as you like. This is not to be left out.
Red chili is optional, either fresh or flakes.
How To Make Lebanese Spinach and Rice
Fry the aromatics. In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, coriander and onion and sweat until translucent and the smells have been released.
Simmer the spinach. Add spinach and vegetable stock. Stir contents through and allow spinach to wilt for about 15 minutes. The volume of liquid will increase as the spinach wilts and releases its jucies.
Finish the vegan spinach stew. Stir the chickpeas, pepper, optional chili through the spinach and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Then turn the heat off. Pour the lemon juice over the stew.
Serve on a bed of vermicelli rice with optional dairy-free yogurt.
Tips - In this recipe I prefer to use spinach over baby spinach. It is earthier and overall has a stronger taste.
Fresh spinach when cooked will wilt and lose 50% of its volume, hence why a large amount of spinach is needed.
Making a big batch of sabanekh wa riz is great. This recipe keeps well in the fridge, for a few days in a snap-lock container. Simply reheat over a stove top or microwave.
Sabanekh w riz is always served with vermicelli rice and a dollop of laban (which is plain yogurt in Arabic) - we now eat dairy free yogurt on the side.
The combination of cold yogurt with hot stew is wonderful.
The above photo shows the same recipe but with silverbeet (swiss chard) rather than spinach. The result is equally delish.
Aside from this recipe being requested on a weeknight, I also get asked to make Malfouf which is cabbage stuffed with vegetables and rice or Molokhia which is the ultimate Lebanese comfort food of braised jute mallow.
Or try my Lebanese black eyed beans recipe.
For more chickpeas, try balela salad.
Spinach Stew (Sabanekh wa Riz)
- 2 kg Fresh spinach chopped small. (Frozen spinach can also be used)
- ½ cup Coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
- 400 g Chickpeas drained
- 1 medium Brown Onion Diced
- 5-6 cloves Fresh garlic crushed
- 2 tbsp Olive oil divided
- 1 cup Vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper to taste
- 1 medium Fresh lemon juice
- 1 small Red chili (optional)
- In a large pot, over high heat, add 2 tablespoon Olive oil, the diced 1 medium Brown Onion, chopped ½ cup Coriander (cilantro) and crushed 5-6 cloves Fresh garlic until translucent and fragrant.
- Add the chopped 2 kg Fresh spinach and 1 cup Vegetable stock. Stir contents through and allow spinach to wilt for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
- Add 400 g Chickpeas, 1 teaspoon Black pepper, chopped 1 small Red chiliStir everything together and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off heat and pour 1 medium Fresh lemon juice. Serve on a bed of rice.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.