Spinach Rice Gratin Recipe

A delicious rice gratin recipe - a hearty casserole of baked rice flecked with spinach. The top bakes into a golden cheese crust made even better with a generous sprinkling of black olives, red onions, and toasted pine nuts.

Spinach Rice Gratin

I opened my sister's freezer the other day and was greeted by stacks of individually portioned, vacuum sealed lasagnas. My sister is seventeen months pregnant right now - kidding, but that's how she feels. She told me they've been stock-piling easy, meals they can simply reheat or pop in the oven once the baby arrives. This got me thinking about healthy, baked, single-pan recipes. I threw this together the other night using a bunch of things I had on hand - brown rice, spinach, black olives, crumbled tofu, a bit of cheese, pine nuts, and a few eggs. It's the kind of thing you could prep in advance and pop in the oven anytime it's convenient. In short, I tossed all the ingredients together in a big bowl, turned them out into a baking dish, and after a thirty minute stint in the oven sat down to a hearty plate of baked rice flecked with spinach. The top bakes into a golden cheese crust made even better with a generous sprinkling of black olives, red onions, and toasted pine nuts.

Come to think of it - you could bake portions of the rice mixture in individual ramekins - that might be cute. And using the rice/egg/tofu ratio you can certainly remix this based on whatever accent ingredients you prefer or have on hand.

Rice Gratin Recipe

Update: Look who made his appearance yesterday. :)

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Spinach Rice Gratin Recipe

2 1/2 cups leftover/pre-cooked brown rice, room temp
1 1/2 cups cups well finely chopped spinach
4 ounces firm organic tofu, crumbled
10 black olives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/3 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or Parm, or Gruyere)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Rack in the top third. Grease a 10-inch round baking dish (or equivalent) with a bit of olive oil.

In a large bowl combine the rice, spinach, and tofu. Now, reserving a bit of each for garnish, stir in the olives, and red onion, pine nuts and olive oil. Now stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, and salt. Fold the eggs into the rice mixture, pour into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is set, and the top toasty and golden. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with remaining onions, olives, and nuts. Sprinkle with a bit more salt before serving - or taste and get a sense of whether you need any.

Serves 8 - 12.

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Hi– I tried this with chopped cauliflower instead of rice and it was wonderful! thanks for the great recipes and keep them coming– I love this site!


Thanks for sharing this very appealing recipe. I think I am going to the grocery store for supplies to make it!


This looks awesome…it’s already bookmarked! I love your great ideas for simple dishes that are healthy and delicious!


Again, a winner! So easy. And a great staple for whatever we might have “too much” of in the fridge. Easily swappable items. And delish! (A hit with the toddler set, too.)


This looks very much like a Provencal dish called “tian”.
And the baby looks absolutely peachy!


someone asked about veganizing this. just use the ener-g egg replacer!!

Dorna Vavrina

With our 3 boys at their Grandma’s for the week and a big yard project, I made this for my husband & I after one of our long days of yard work. We both loved it and had it for lunch the next day. I sub Greek olives for the black – it was what I had on hand. Thank you for the great recipes. I just recently found your site and have made several of your recipes.
And of course, the baby is so cute! If only they would stay little for longer.


Oh, he’s soooooooo cute!! and what a perfectly-baked meal to welcome him Heidi!:)D hehehe…this is perfect for the healthy cooking event I’m running on my blog! I know you are too busy, but it would be so good if you could send this in for the event!:)


This recipe sounds delicious and easy to make for the kitchen impaired. However, I cannot stand olives. Any suggestions for substutions?


This was delicious! I almost have all these ingredients in my fridge, and this was easy and tasty and best of all, it even tasted lovely cold as I ran out of my house late for a meeting. I used spinach, baby chard and turnip greens as that’s what I had on hand from my CSA box.
I’ll definitely add this to the regular rotation and may try baking it in indiviidual muffin cups to pack for lunches.


I just made this and it fulfills all of my cravings for comfort and it is so good for me, my two year old son and my meat loving husband! Thank you!


The dish looks awesome and so does that sweet babe! Congratulations to your sister.


I made this last night for an impromptu dinner party, and it was a big hit! Everyone said it reminded them of something their mom/aunt/grandma used to make, albeit healthier.
Thanks! Love the gluten-free recipes!


love this! I made it last night, and used capers and artichoke hearts and almonds, as we didn’t have any olives or pine nuts. It was fantastic, but I can definitely see where the olives would give it a nice kick. I’m having it for lunch today with some sliced tomatoes on the side. Thanks for a great recipe that I am sure i will be adapting a lot whenever I need to clean out the fridge!


I made this tonight with almonds and we all loved it. My 4 year old even had a small portion which is incredible considering it has visible green flecks. Thanks.


I just made this and it was delicious. I used chard instead of spinach, and it was great. I saw lots of posts from people who don’t like tofu and I think this would be just as yummy without the tofu.


Heidi, you’re wonderful. Your recipes are fantastic. Several of them, including your Red Rice Salad, are staples in my house now. Can’t wait to make this one. It has all the flavors I love.
Congratulations to your sister. What a beautiful baby.


I’m very happy for you, Auntie Heidi, your nephew looks happy, healthy and handsome!
I just love anything gratin. This is a great dish for use of left over rice, something I have plenty of. I’m always frying up the left over rice, out of cultural habit of course, but I must try something different and bake the rice. I love your gratin dish already and can tell it’ll soon be one of my left over rice cooking habits.
Thank you.

White On Rice Couple

I tried to post a comment on the Salt-kissed Buttermilk Cake Recipe but could not. Why is that? I love that cake.


Hello Heidi – I made this for dinner last night and was delicious. And such an easy, easy meal. I made as is, except didn’t have any pine nuts, so left them out. I can imagine it being excellent for picnics as well, allowed to cool and then cut into wedges. Thanks for posting. Yum


I made this last night, and it was fantastic! I used Romano cheese, and added some sausage, so it was more of a potato-less tortilla. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂


Should the spinach be sauteed first, Heidi?


i adore rice! this is sooo gorgeous!


Congratulations on the nephew! I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic when he realizes how great of a cook his aunt is.


Congrats Heidi! Your nephew is adorable!


Hi from Barcelona, Spain. Great recipe, I had everything in the frig, only changed the tofu, for fresh goat cheese. With a green salad and some cold Cava, my husband and I had a nice dinner under a beautiful summer night sky. Thanks! Moltes gràcies!


Your nephew’s delicious!
So was the buttermilk cake…I made it with peaches. I was also out of sugar so some honey and remnants of brown sugar had to suffice but all was good:) Ate it for breakfast. Yum. Thanks!


it’s really a very good recipe,i’ll definately try this at home


I love manchego, spinach and pine nuts – this recipe looks great.

S for Kitchen Confit

How did you know I had a bunch of spinach in the fridge that needed a home? There is currently a ban on the oven because we don’t have air conditioning, so I made it into a one pot stovetop casserole. No eggs and a mixture of wild and brown rices. Delicious! Thanks for your amazing recipe inspiration!


Great recipe! I can’t get my husband to eat tofu….could I substitute a meat for this? I was thinking maybe of chicken.
Thanks for your help and great recipes!


Congrats to Aunt Heidi!
I’m a fan of make-ahead meals like this, especially when work schedules often get out of control. I find myself making a double batch of a particular meal, then freezing a portion of it for a later time. Make once, bake twice!


Lovely recipe!
I love creating new combinations of rice pies. It’s so fulfilling and comforting!
Also, I LOVE spinach with pretty much everything, and it goes so well with brown rice.
You reminded me to post the recipe for my fave sweet rice pie on my blog.:)
First time I write here, and I’m happy to be here. I’ve been here for a long time actually, but was shy enough to respond..:]


This dish sounds yummy. Just found this site today and I am thrilled to find some dishes that I can cook and eat gluten-free. Cute baby!


Here’s another vote for eggplant recipes!!


This totally reminds me of something you’d find in first edition Moosewood Cookbook. Come to think of it, that’d be a good one to revisit. I could go for some of that vegetarian chopped liver right about now.


I made this last night for my French hubby for Bastille Day – but I added some smoked ham (he eats so few meals with meat anymore) and some cottage cheese and used parm instead of manchego.
Delicious! Can’t wait to have the leftovers when I get home!

Jenny Macky

mazetov on your sister’s new arrival.
and this looks perfect for dinner tonight- just returned from a long trip and the cupboards are bare. a quick trip to the farmer’s market, and i’ll have everything set.


Awesome, it sounds like insta-brunch…just add mimosas 🙂


This would make a lovely lunch! I am going to make this very soon!


Thanks Heidi this was yummy! I added frozen peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. The crusty edges were great!


i would like to request the 101 cook recipies &
pls send to my email.


I’m from India and a vegan by nature.I’d like to say I tried the recipe with one scoop of rice flour and two scoops of gram flour , made into a paste,as a substitute for the eggs,it turned out quite nicely.The rice flour and gram flour are used as thickening agents in Indian cooking and they substitute well for eggs.


Great looking dish and a beautiful baby 🙂

Lobster Recipe

I made this one for dinner tonight and it was a big hit. I had to leave the olives out though.
Loved the red onions.


I really enjoy your recipes…they are awesome. I will try this one very soon.
I noted one of the other posters requested recipes with eggplant…I have been thinking the same. I have even searched your recipes. No eggplant…why? Your expertise would be sooo appreciated.
thank you


This was so inspiring I made it tonight! Of course, I couldn’t help messing with the ingredients and it adapted perfectly well to my taste. What a wonderful, crowd pleasing dish! I will post my rendition soon. Thanks so much for the idea!

Skrockodile (Sabra)

Beautiful dish. Exactly the sort of thing I can imagine making. And I like Carrie’s idea of wrapping it up straight from the pan – to be frozen and re-used another day. Especially as it saves on washing up!


Laura – I haven’t done this myself, but when a friend of mine veganises her delicious burger patties for me, she always throws in a handful of ground psyllium husk as a binder. it might be worth trying – worst case scenario, you just end up with a kind of baked risotto in the pan 🙂


Congratulations! Now you are an auntie all these wonderful “instant” and freezable recipes will come in so handy. Sounds wonderful!


Heidi –
This sounds awesome and I have all of the ingredients. If I wanted to make individual ramekins, would you suggest I bake them and then freeze and reheat, or freeze and then bake. Or do you think it would make a difference?
Thank you !
Sharon in Oregon


In response to AuntTish’s desire to print the picture of the finished dish, if you right click on the picture, you should be able to select “print picture” from the shortcut menu. The picture will print on a separate piece of paper but you can then cut and tape it to the recipe. I do this all the time when printing online recipes.


Congratulations Aunt Heidi! Your nephew is bee-yoo-tee-ful!
and thank your sister for her frozen lasagna idea also- I’m expecting as well and I think we’ll start filling the freezer as the due date gets closer. I think it will keep us from eating a lot of take out!


Here’s a trick for freezer foods I learned somewhere – Line your baking dish with 2 layers of heavy duty foil before putting your casserole inside. Leave plenty of foil over the sides, so you can wrap the top as well. When it’s frozen solid, take the foil and casserole out – you get your pan back, and the casserole is the exact size to plop back in to bake! Plus, no clean up – either before freezing, or after baking! You can also wrap the whole frozen casserole in plastic wrap if you’re afraid of freezer smells getting in. Of course, don’t forget to label each casserole with a Sharpie so you don’t forget what’s inside!


wow – two gorgeous things, one to eat and one to nibble on! such a beautiful baby, and all my favorite ingredients in the gratin.


Beautiful baby – congrats! My sister is newly pregnant and not feeling so great. She emailed me begging for a recipe that didn’t have meat or veggies in it because she’s now completely adverse to them. Maybe if I hide the veggies in a dish like this she’ll be able to get it down. I had suggested mac & cheese – this is a little bit more nutritious for her and the baby!


I’m going to try this soon! As a stay at home Mom with 2 year old twins, one dish meals are invaluable – can you add more?
Congrats – he’s ADORABLE 🙂


Another vegan comment: any type of flour would work well as a binder – try chickpea flour, partially-cooked cornmeal to get something like polenta, or a mixture of flours for more complex flavor. Blended tofu would work perfectly too, although I try to avoid using soy whenever possible.


congrats to your sister!
we did the same in our house about a month prior to our little guy’s arrival in late january. i cooked 7 big meals – including two from your blog, heidi – and we never regretted it. mostly soups and stews that kept well frozen, but overall it was a good month or two before i had the energy to cook again. (i do the cooking in our house, with much pleasure.)
for the record we made your lasagne (simplified, but it’s been such a hit we’ve made it easily a dozen times since then for friends and ourselves) and lentil soup. we saved them in three serving dishes. we have the freezer space in the basement of our house. it took us ~3 mos to get through all of the food.
i highly recommend to anyone about to have a baby to make a boatload of good foods that you can and you’ll thank yourself later.
and thanks, heidi, for the continual great blog and recipes.

jose nazario

Heidi, I’m not big on tofu – is there anything else I can use please, for the spinach rice gratin? God bless the baby, by the way; – he’s beautiful!


Heidi, I’m not big on tofu – is there anything else I can use please, for the spinach rice gratin? God bless the baby, by the way; – he’s beautiful!


Welcome to the world beautiful boy and thanks for the recipe Auntie Heidi. I am visiting in Victoria B C for a month so off the market to buy some spinach.Isn’t the internet wonderful?


Your nephew is beautiful! Congratulations!
I love baked dishes. They’re so homey and comforting and practical. Thanks for another good one 🙂


OH this looks so good I am making it for dinner!!


Of course I have most of these ingredients on hand – I’ll try it!


Just the word “tofu” scares me (sounds like it would be a variation of “snafu”). Anyway, the photo is appetizing and the the rest of the ingredients are things I like…I suppose it’s time to broaden my horizons and buy the tofu (in the middle of the night when everybody I know is asleep) and give this recipe a try. Thank you.


This is in response to Laura’s comment on the eggs. She could try soy flour as the binder, use one heaping Tablespoon soy flour and two tablespoons water instead of each egg. Should work like a charm.

Jill in Florida

I just picked up some broccoli at the farmer’s market this weekend. I’m thinking of adding that diced instead of the spinach and using feta as I can’t do the cow’s milk.


This sounds delicious! And WHAT a beautiful baby! So adorable…


This looks so good…I’m not pregnant but I’ve been looking for freezer-friendly meals. Thanks!


Looks delicious. My best friend is pregnant, I will have to tell her about your sister’s idea.


Congrats, Heidi!!!! All the best to your sister!


What a beautiful babe!!!! Congraulations to (I believe you said) your sister.
This recipe came at the perfect time. I am craving Spinach right now and have a tub that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. Now I know. Yummy.
Thank you.
Oh and by the way we made your banana chip cookies recently and I SWEAR they were by far the best cookies I have EVER tasted. Thanks for your dedication to beautful healthy food!


Love this recipe. Such a good base for so many recipes. I think this is a recipe I might just double up and put into super large ramekins for individual little baked casseroles throughout the week. Thanks H!
See you at Taste3! =)


Congratulations on your beautiful nephew! Your gratin is good looking, too.

Roz McLean

Wow, I think I already have all of the ingredients. . . I may just make it this week! Thanks for sharing!


Oh how beautiful and sweet! The baby, that is. The gratin looks fantastic too. Congrats Auntie!

Life Chef

Heidi, can one freeze this dish ? It is perhaps implicit but not explicit
HS:I didn’t try to freeze it – and I’m not 100% sure how it would turn out. I actually think I might bake it, then freeze, the reheat in the oven if I were to take the freezer approach… If anyone goes the freezer route, let me know.


Auntie Heidi…..She’s no longer 17 months pregnant! Thanks for the picture of their beautiful little boy. Now I’m a great aunt.
This is another recipe I know I’m going to love. You make healthy eating yummy!
Auntie Shay
HS: Thanks Auntie Shay – he’s very cute and sweet. Hope to see you soon. 🙂


Wow, I’m not sure there could be anything easier than mixing everything together in a bowl, turning it out and baking it. It looks so satisfying too. Healthy comfort food.


This sounds like an easy, tasty and wholesome recipe. Thanks for posting the same. My husband and I are vegetarian but would still like to tyr this one. Can we replace the egg with something else?


Lovely recipe. Anyone have any tips on how to veganize it? I’m happy to just leave out the cheese, but the egg sounds kind of integral.
HS: Hmmm – not sure offhand, maybe one of the vegan readers can step in with suggestions – the eggs definitely work as a binder here.


I have a bunch of chard, dandelion and beat green, from this weekend’s farmer’s market. I think I’ll sautee those up with some new garlic (another thank you to the FM) and use instead of spinach. Wondering if a freshly made breadcrumbs combined with parm. on top would work too (?)
Heidi – I made your sprouted garbanzo bean burgers over the weekend, and I am in love – so perfect for summer. I used sesame breadcrumbs, (a new find in the Isreali section of the market), lemon thyme, a scant amount of minced garlic and served over a bed of greens with a greek yogurt dip (mint, lemon, cumin, pinch of cayenne, cracked pepper).
HS: ooh. sounds so good.


This recipe looks great – Although I am not pregnant (congrats Auntie to Be) I think that this is great for anyone with a busy schedule – this should be staple in the house.

Cathy C

Dishes like this that are so simple and easy yet refreshing is what I tend to lean towards. I don’t have any time to spend hours slaving away over dinner, especially when I get home from my night school. I like the tofu and the brown rice in this gratin as well because it makes it a healthy alternative to cream-laden gratins. Thanks Heidi!

Amanda Boyce

Your sister is impressively organized and just a touch scary. 🙂 It’s really a great idea, and I’m duly impressed that, being 17 months pregnant, she’d be able to find the energy. At least she has a sister who can keep her supplied with great recipes.
This spinach rice gratin is my favorite kind of dish – the kind made with whatever you have on hand. Summer is the perfect season for that, and for using that market produce that you just couldn’t resist buying before it wilts.

Becky And The Beanstock

I’ve been lurking on your site now for about 6-8 months and absolutely adore your recipes, your writing, and your photos! I wondered though why you do not offer a “print with photo” option for printing the recipes? Personally, I really like to have a photo of the final dish when I am cooking.
HS: Thanks for the suggestion – It’s definitely on the to-do list.


This reminds me of a recipe which I tried a few weeks ago an Iranian rice dish called Tahcheen. I found the recipe in Rosewater & Sodabread; a novel by Marsha Mehran.
Yours sounds good too.


I am pregnant so this sounds like a great idea to me! Unfortunately I have a tiny freezer, but should probably take out the bottle of vodka since I won’t be using it for a while. Thanks Heidi!


Amazing website; I’ve made a bunch of recipes and loved all of them. I just noticed, though, that there are no recipes with eggplant, which is one of my favorite hearty, filling ‘no-meat-necessary’ vegetables. I’d love to see some of your expert suggestions!


Good thinking! My sister has just had her baby and she and her husband are so busy that they can’t get much cooking done right now. I go and do some personal catering once in a while (so much cooler than a PT) and if I’m lucky, I get to feed the baby, too…


ooh that sounds so good, I need more meals that can be prepped ahead of time or just lower key, can’t wait to try this


Sounds delish. I am not pregnant, or have kids – but I am an entrepreneur! So I need recipes just like this that are easy to make when I have some downtime and then can go right into the oven when it’s time to eat. Thanks, will definitely try this one.


Heidi, this looks delicious! I love Manchego!


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