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Lebanese Spinach Stew is a favorite recipe that I grew up eating and that I make for my family now every few weeks. In Arabic, this dish is called Sabanekh w Riz – which translates to spinach and rice. It’s a hearty, nutritious and wholesome meal made with simple inexpensive ingredients. While we often serve it with beef, you can make it vegan by serving it with chickpeas.
What I love about most of the Lebanese meals I make is how they’re made with simple inexpensive ingredients that are transformed to something so nourishing to feed a family! This spinach stew is no exception and its one of the simplest Middle Eastern stews you can make!
How to make spinach stew
- Toast the pine nuts with some olive oil. You want them to be golden and fragrant without burning, so watch them closely and set aside when toasted.
- In the same pan, cook the ground beef with 7 Spice, salt and pepper. Make sure the ground beef is browned, and then remove from the pan and set aside.
- In that same pan, using the olive oil and juice leftover from cooking the pine nuts and ground beef, you can start cooking the cilantro and garlic along with crushed red pepper. I use frozen cilantro and frozen garlic to make it quick.
- As soon as the cilantro and garlic become fragrant, you can add the frozen spinach to it. There’s no need to thaw the spinach in advance or drain any liquid. Just transfer it it straight from the bag and cook until it softens.
- Finally, you’ll return the toasted pine nuts and cooked beef on top of the spinach along with chicken broth or water and simmer the spinach stew for 20 minutes. You can save some toasted pine nuts to add on top when serving.
- After 20 minutes, the mixture will thicken and the spinach will become tender.
When you’re done cooking the spinach stew, you can eat it on its own with a splash of lemon juice. However, it’s very traditional for us to eat it with Lebanese Rice. You can serve it with any type of rice you’d like, or quinoa, couscous, Bulgur or even cauliflower rice.
Tips for making the recipe
- Cook the stew in a heavy bottomed sauté pan; they absorb and distribute the heat from the stovetop more evenly, so you don’t get hot spots which can cause burning the pine nuts or the garlic.
- Use frozen cilantro and frozen garlic to make it quicker. Since I make this stew and other stews so often, I buy fresh cilantro and fresh garlic and mince them both and freeze separately to use in recipes like this. It cuts the prep down so much!
- Don’t bother using fresh spinach. While I usually opt for fresh over frozen when possible, in this case it adds a lot more unnecessary prep work and you will need a lot more spinach – like two pounds of it! Frozen works perfectly here!
Frequently asked questions
Lebanese stews (which we call yakhneh) are always served with Vermicelli Rice, very similar to how curries are enjoyed with rice. For lower carb options, try it with quinoa!
As the spinach wilts, it will thicken the broth for this stew. You can control how much chicken broth you add though depending on your preference and keep in mind that it will thicken as it sits. If you want to thicken the stew even more, consider adding a starch like potatoes to it.
Once you make the stew, let it cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and it will keep in the fridge for around 4 days. The stew also freezes well, just defrost it in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop.
If you have extra frozen spinach and you’re looking for more Lebanese style recipes to make, you’ll have to try Arabic spinach pies which are filled with a spinach, onion and sumac mixture!
This stew is such a great comfort food dish, and one I grew up with! I’m sure you are going to love it just as much as we all do! If you have a large family, this spinach stew is a perfect easy meal you can make in 30 minutes with hardly any prep. You can double or triple the recipe because it stores so well and keeps for a few days!
For other similar dishes:
- Peas and Carrots Stew
- Okra Stew
- Peanut Soup
- Cauliflower Curry
- Easy Butter Chicken
- Red Lentil Curry
- Easy Beef Stew
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Spinach Stew recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Lebanese Spinach Stew
- In a heavy bottomed saute pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and toast the pine nuts until golden, remove and set aside.
- In the same pan over medium high heat, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the ground beef, season with 7 Spice, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until the meat is browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and set aside, keep any oil and juices in the pan.
- In the same pan, add the cilantro, garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the frozen spinach, remaining salt and cook with the cilantro mixture until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth or water and bring mixture to a boil. Return the cooked ground beef and pine nuts to the pan. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes until stew thickens.
- Stir in the lemon juice and serve over traditional Arabic rice pilaf.
- Instead of frozen spinach, you can use fresh spinach, but you will need 2 pounds to be the equivalent of 20 ounces frozen spinach.
- Instead of 7 Spice, you can substitute any mix of paprika, cumin, coriander, ground cloves, nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon
- To make it vegan, just leave the beef out or substitute it for chickpeas.