Prasorizo is a classic Greek vegan meal made with leeks and rice.
Πρασόριζο. Our father was a little older than 18 when he left his village in Messinia to fulfill the obligation that all young men in Greece, to this day, must fulfill. Universal and compulsory military service for men (women can now enroll on a voluntary basis) meant that young men like our father would leave their homes for several months in order to take part in this national service. Universal conscription was introduced during the military reforms of 1909 and was seen (and is still seen by some) as a rite of passage for young men; a final stepping stone before entering the real world
Our dad began his military experience in Thiva, a city which lies northwest of Athens and which was one of the chief cities and powers of ancient Greece. It was here that he was dressed (received his military uniform) and where he spent 3 months before moving on to Kastoria, Macedonia, in the northwestern region of Greece for the 21 months which followed.
It was in Kastoria that our Baba, along with about 300 other young men, ran through drills, learned to handle heavy military artillery, and enjoyed some very good food! The army base in Kastoria was near an airport, and there were expansive fields adjacent to the barracks and training grounds. One of the young soldiers happened to be an avid and skilled gardener. With a little bit of persuasion, he was assigned the job of growing vegetables and tending to a massive garden that he took charge of. While the others, our father included, ran through drills, this stratioti (soldier) was tilling soil and planting seeds. There were no hard feelings however; everyone enjoyed the fruits, and vegetables, of the gardener-soldier’s labour. He grew everything, including tomatoes, zucchinis, green beans and leeks. So many leeks! The leeks (praso in Greek) were particularly noteworthy for our father as this was the first time that he had eaten leeks; these were not vegetables that his family grew back in his village.
Our father’s “job” as a strato included clerical and office work; he found every opportunity to help in the garden however (no surprise). He recalls with fondness the yemista and the prasorizo they were all fed, thanks to the garden; he swears he ate prasorizo almost every day! The good food didn’t stop there. Although our dad was granted only one leave back home during this time, he did have occasion to travel to villages near the military base with new found army friends who were from the area. He remembers short trips to Edessa where he enjoyed the most glorious peaches.
In speaking to our father about his time in the strato (military) there was not a hint of regret or resentment at having been obligated to enlist in the military. In fact, he still sees this responsibility as something he was proud to be a part of. This was a time in his life when he was exposed to new experiences, new friends and new foods. It is no wonder then, that even now, when he eats a plate of prasorizo, he smiles and savours every bite.
What is prasorizo or Greek leeks and rice?
Prasorizo is a humble and rustic Greek recipe made primarily with leeks (praso) and rice (rizi). It is a vegan meal that is perfect during times of lent.
How to make prasorizo or Greek leeks and rice:
You will need only a few basic ingredients to make this classic Greek recipe. Many of these items you will already have in your refrigerator or pantry. They are inexpensive ingredients which make this a meal that you can make often and for a crowd (the recipe doubles and triples easily).
You will need:
- Olive oil
- Spring onions
- Salt and pepper
More Greek vegan recipes:
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Prasorizo Greek leeks and rice
- Large saucepot
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil plus additional for drizzling
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 medium leeks, diced (approximately 4 cups)
- 3/4 cup (160 grams) medium grain rice
- 4 cups (32 fl oz) water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill plus additional for garnishing
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 spring onions, sliced
- Trim, wash and cut the leeks into ½ inch slices. We cut the leek in half lengthwise and slice it into half rounds3 medium leeks,
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, till the onion becomes soft. You don't want to burn the onion.1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil, 1 medium yellow onion
- Add the leeks and saute for an additional 5 minutes, again being careful not to burn them.
- Add the rice, and saute for 1-2 minutes.3/4 cup (160 grams) medium grain rice
- Add the water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is ready.4 cups (32 fl oz) water
- After 20 minutes, most of the water should have been absorbed by the rice; if you find the rice is still not quite ready, and there is hardly any liquid. Add some boiled water and cook for another few minutes.
- Uncover, add the lemon juice, the salt and pepper, the dill and spring onions, and stir to combine.juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 4 spring onions, sliced
- Remove the pot off the heat, and let sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes; where it will continue to thicken up.
- Serve, drizzle with some olive oil, and top with some extra dill.