Gjellë pronounced gel, means dish or food and gjellë me spinaq dhe klitharaq literally translates into dish with spinach and orzo. In Albanian cuisine we make a variety of different pot foods, everyone makes their own kind of food using a variety of ingredients.
You may have seen my spinach-and-rice post, this is similar but this is with orzo. My mom and grandma always make spinach and rice with veal or beef pieces with bones, but I am not a big fan of that. I prefer it without meat or with a little ground beef for lezet, which means flavour, or taste; it can have a variety of meanings depending on how you use it.
One thing about the ground beef that I use for all my recipes is that it’s fresh from the butcher. I get it grounded with no fat and then I pack it in freezer bags in the amount that I usually use for dishes. I let the meat thaw out and use as needed.
You can add more orzo or spinach if you like, you can also add more ground beef for a hearty dish, just add more water for the orzo. It’s great served with plain yogurt and bread.
What you will need:
- 1 pkg of 11 oz spinach ( you can use as much spinach you like, the more the better)
- 1 cup orzo
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 4 cups boiling water
- dash of paprika (for colour)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon of pepper paste (optional)*
- 1 onion
- olive oil
- salt to season, you may use pepper as well
Rinse spinach, and set aside. Boil water.
Chop onion and saute in a large cooking pot with a few spoons of olive oil. When onions are soft add in the tomato paste and ground beef (break into small chunks). Add in the orzo and with a wooden spoon just stir it all around until there is a wonderful aroma in the air.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add in the boiling water, taste and adjust seasoning. Add in the spinach. Cover with lid and cook on low heat till orzo is cooked.
Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
*I cook with pepper paste often, but if you don’t have any you can use a freshly chopped red pepper in its place for the flavour. This is of course optional.