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Quick and Easy: Spinach and Garlic Fried Rice

April 19, 2011

This post is taking the place of one that I was excited to share with you but likely will not be happening.  Last week, while out to dinner with my husband, I came across some fresh sardines at a market in Mountain View.  I was curious about their inventory, having never shopped there before, and I was surprised to finally find something that’s been very elusive at my local markets.  Well, pure excitement about grilling and eating the sardines the following day quickly turned into disappointment when I saw the shots I took.  I’m still thinking that they’re not fit to be shared so I give you this bowl of rice instead.

This dish is so basic that I never considered it worthy of posting.  Perhaps it was fortuitous that I snapped a couple of shots of this still-steaming plate of rice immediately before serving it to my husband (I’m off rice for a while).  I realized later that this dish just may be more qualified to represent what we eat at home compared to some of the others I share here, especially since we are happy to eat it two, or even three, times a week (it’s happened).

I started making this variation of fried rice last year.  Fried rice is a typical end-of-the-week meal for us since it’s such a good way to clean out the fridge of the week’s leftover vegetables, usually broccoli, celery and carrots.  Using spinach didn’t come to mind until I started purchasing the bagged frozen variety instead of the ones that come in blocks (which must first be defrosted in the microwave).  The former are much easier to use since the spinach leaves are frozen individually–portions are easier to manage and no defrosting is necessary.  I place the frozen spinach in a very hot cast iron skillet and wait for the water to evaporate.  Then I add a bit of olive oil and fry the spinach.  I add garlic then the rice and season with soy sauce.  Done.

The first time I made this, I thought it wouldn’t work but I was happy to be wrong.  The spinach dries out while frying, allowing some of the edges to brown and crisp up a bit instead of what I expected: a soggy, unpalatable plate of rice.  Drizzled with some lemon juice or vinegar, sprinkled with ground pepper and some hot sauce, we’re happy to have a healthy, meatless meal.


It occurred to me while writing this post that this rice dish qualifies for the Quick and Easy series I considered starting at the beginning of year.  I first mentioned it when I posted my Spinach and White Bean Soup.  I wanted to compile a list of dishes using my pantry/refrigerator staples.  This fits the bill perfectly.  Because of this fried rice, bagged frozen spinach now has a high turnover rate in my freezer.  As for the rice, well, I always have leftovers in the refrigerator.  I’m certain that I have posted other dishes here that qualify for “Quick and Easy” and I will update my Categories list on the sidebar to include them.  In the meantime, if you should find yourself short of ideas for a healthy, simple meal, this could be an option for you.

Spinach and Garlic Fried Rice

  • Leftover cooked rice (brown or white)
  • Bagged frozen chopped spinach (You will need more than you think.  For 2 – 3 cups of cooked rice, I usually use about 1/3 of the bagged frozen spinach)
  • Chopped fresh garlic
  • Oil, 2 – 3 tablespoons
  • Soy sauce
  • Optional condiments:  Lemon juice, vinegar, ground pepper, hot sauce
I use a cast iron skillet to prepare this dish so I can really turn up the heat on my stove.  A frying pan will do but make sure to turn up the heat to high to properly dry the spinach.  When the pan is hot, add the frozen spinach and allow the water to evaporate completely before adding any oil.  When the spinach starts sticking the pan, add a bit of oil and cook for a few minutes until the spinach start to brown a bit–this may take about five minutes.  Sweep the spinach towards the sides of the pan to leave the center free for the garlic.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for about half a minute.  Don’t let it burn. Add your remaining oil before adding the leftover cooked rice.  Stir fry until the rice is heated through, seasoning with a bit of soy sauce along the way.  Plate and serve.
23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 11:51 AM

    Lovely simple rice dish, packed full of flavour. (The sardines sound like they were completely delicious too but not as photogenic).

  2. April 19, 2011 12:08 PM

    This looks so good. I am so glad you shared the recipe. I love spinach and brown rice so I am thinking this might just be my new favorite rice dish. Thanks!

    • April 22, 2011 3:12 PM

      I’m surprised myself that this has become a favorite at home–so unassuming but it really is satisfying. 🙂

  3. April 19, 2011 12:30 PM

    I hope the sardines were at least tasty, if not photogenic (I’ve run into that problem myself, because we serve them head-on and therefore they can be a bit disconcerting to shoot, but they are delicious).

    Simple (and pretty) standbys are absolutely essential!

    • April 22, 2011 3:13 PM

      Elizabeth, yes, I served the sardines head on. The low light just didn’t produce the effect I was after. They were tasty, though! 🙂

  4. April 19, 2011 12:48 PM

    I’m loving this rice!!! The flavors are simply fantastic.

  5. April 19, 2011 4:26 PM

    This looks so flavorful! And quick /easy…perfect!! Thanks!

  6. April 19, 2011 4:39 PM

    I love quick and easy meals. I have a tried and true version of fried rice. I have never thought to switch it up. Cannot wait to try something new.

  7. April 19, 2011 7:04 PM

    I just love fried rice–thank you for sharing your variation!

  8. April 19, 2011 8:36 PM

    This sounds delicious!

  9. April 20, 2011 12:37 AM

    Bummer about the sardines 😦 But I will happily take this bowl of rice! Great variation – I would have never thought to use spinach!

  10. April 20, 2011 12:52 AM

    Wow spinach in fried rice – I must try. This looks delicious and dinner/lunch in 15 minutes sounds excellent! 😉 Thank you for sharing Jean!

  11. April 20, 2011 3:32 AM

    So glad you were able to find sardines, but sorry that the photos did not turn out like you’d wanted them to! This plate of fried rice sounds amazing and simple – just the way I like it!

  12. April 20, 2011 7:40 AM

    The rice looks like a jewel, bright colors and very enticing!

  13. April 20, 2011 12:14 PM

    This sounds great…I love spinach and I love me some rice and garlic! I think I would be sneaking spoonfuls of it while it was cooling down…there would be none to present at the dinner table! 🙂

  14. April 20, 2011 5:19 PM

    Forget about the sardines (although it is really annoying when you are exciting about sharing something and then none of the pictures come out right! I hate when it happens) now I know what I’ll make for dinner all those evenings when I’m way too tired to cook something complicated

  15. April 20, 2011 9:27 PM

    Lovely recipe….First time here….happy following u

  16. April 21, 2011 6:04 AM

    This looks like a delightful dish and I have bookmarked it!

  17. April 21, 2011 9:18 AM

    We made ourselves some spinach with caramelized onions and fried garlic today (the traditional way we have it), to have with rice. And now this?!! I am thinking that my spinach is a perfect candidate to make the fried rice with!! yours sound so similar in flavor and its a one pot lovely.

  18. April 21, 2011 6:35 PM

    This is just the kind of recipe that I need, I usually have leftover rice at the end of the week and this would be a great way to use it up!

  19. April 26, 2011 12:42 PM

    Mmm, this is right up my alley! I’ll have to try this one. I keep leftover rice in the freezer for emergency ‘fried rice dinner nite’. This will be perfect for one of those nights. I’ve also been adding spinach to EVERYTHING but never thought to add it to rice. Thanks! 🙂

  20. May 10, 2011 2:02 PM

    Beautiful and simple – I love it.

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