Mediterranean rice recipes come in many varieties, but all share the same basic flavors.
This dish is made up of sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes, cooked together until tender.
It’s then served over basmati rice.
This recipe has been around since the 1960s when it was created at an Italian restaurant called La Cucina by chef Mario Batali.
He later opened his own New York City restaurant where he serves it as part of their signature “Babbo Style Pasta e Fagioli.”
What Ingredients Are Required To Make A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
There aren’t too many things you need to make a simple Mediterranean rice recipe.
You don’t have to go out and buy expensive specialty items like truffles or olive oil, because these dishes use everyday ingredients found in your pantry.
Here’s what you will need:
- Basmati rice (this can be substituted with any other type)
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
You won’t need much equipment to make this recipe, just some pots and pans.
A large pot on the stovetop will help keep the heat consistent so that everything cooks evenly.
To prepare the recipe, you will also need two bowls – one for rinsing the rice and one for cooking the rice.
This way, you only need to wash one bowl instead of having to clean another after each step.
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
The time you need to prepare your Mediterranean rice recipe depends on how much water you add to the pot while cooking.
For example, if you use two cups of water, it should only take about 10 minutes to boil down into a flavorful broth.
You can double or triple this amount depending on what type of rice you choose.
Basmati rice takes slightly longer than other types because it absorbs more liquid than some others do.
The best way to determine how long your rice will take to finish cooking is by checking its color after 10 minutes.
If it still looks white, it needs another 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you want to be extra careful, keep track of the time using a digital clock or kitchen timer so you don’t overcook your food.
In addition, always start out with cold water instead of hot water to avoid burning yourself.
When cooking a Mediterranean rice recipe, remember to stir frequently to prevent any sticking from happening.
When your rice starts to stick, just remove it from the heat source (stovetop burner) and continue stirring until you get the right consistency.
Once done, serve immediately to ensure maximum flavor.
Is There A Vegetarian Version Of A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
You can easily swap out meat for tofu, tempeh, seitan, or even beans if you prefer.
However, if you want to keep your diet vegetarian, just make sure you buy non-GMO organic brown rice (or any other type of rice) instead of white rice.
If you don’t have access to non-GMO rice, check with your local health food store or co-op to see what options they offer.
There might be something like “white rice with no additives” on the shelf.
If not, ask them about alternatives such as quinoa, millet, wild rice, barley, etc.
They should be able to help you find one that works well with this recipe.
Another option would be to use lentils, which work really well with this recipe.
You could also try black beans or chickpeas, though these will require some extra preparation time because they need to soak overnight before cooking.
What Spices Are Used To Flavor A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
The primary ingredient in this dish is onion.
The onion adds the sweetness needed, while also giving the dish its characteristic pungent aroma.
When cooking, you should cook your onions slowly so they don’t become too brown and lose any moisture.
Garlic is added next, followed by mushrooms.
These ingredients provide a savory base for the rest of the dish.
Next comes the spinach and tomato mixture which provides acidity to balance out the other flavors.
Finally, you add some salt to bring everything back into harmony.
You can make a variety of different types of rice dishes using this method.
You could try substituting one kind of rice for another if you want to change things up (or just use something healthier).
Or maybe you want to experiment with adding more veggies like zucchini or eggplant instead of spinach.
Another option would be to substitute quinoa for the basmati rice to create a grain-free alternative.
Quinoa is naturally gluten free and makes a great replacement because it cooks quickly and doesn’t have a strong taste.
If you prefer not to eat grains, this is definitely a good choice.
Rice isn’t the only option either.
You can mix it up even further by swapping out pasta for risotto rice.
Risotto rice is usually made with Arborio rice, but you can easily swap it for another variety if you do not like the texture of Arborio rice.
Is There A Particular Type Of Rice That Is Best For Making A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
Basmati rice is often recommended because it retains its shape well during cooking.
Other types of long-grain white rice can be substituted if you prefer, like jasmine, arborio, or carnaroli.
In addition to being versatile, basmati rice also comes out perfectly fluffy every time.
You might not think this is important, but it makes such a difference in how your risotto turns out.
If you find yourself struggling to get a creamy texture from other rices, try using basmati instead.
If you want more variety, brown rice works too! Brown rice is actually a different grain altogether than regular white rice.
It contains more nutrients, including iron, magnesium, manganese, folate, thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, zinc, copper, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and selenium.
Brown rice is a great option if you have dietary restrictions or simply don’t enjoy the taste of white rice.
The only downside to brown rice is that it takes longer to cook (about 45 minutes) compared to other grains.
However, the extra time will make it worth it once you see those beautiful little kernels emerge from the pot.
Whatever kind of rice you choose, it’s always good to use whole grains whenever possible.
Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
They may even help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Are There Any Health Benefits To Eating A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
Many people claim to have found some sort of benefit from eating Mediterranean rice recipes.
The most common claims are related to weight loss and heart health.
Some even claim that they can prevent cancer.
But none of these claims have ever been proven true through scientific research.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them out though.
They may be worth giving a shot if you want to start losing weight or just feel like trying something new.
One thing to keep in mind before diving into a Mediterranean rice recipe is that while each one will taste very similar, the ingredients vary based on what region of Italy you live in.
For example, risotto rice is used in northern regions because they use more butter than the other types of rice that are available.
However, the ingredients used in southern regions are typically different too.
So you should make sure you know which version of the Mediterranean rice recipe you’re using before starting your meal plan.
What Kind Of Vegetables Go Well With A Mediterranean Rice Recipe?
Basmati rice is known for its nutty flavor and aroma due to its unique starch composition.
Basmati rice is also high in protein, making it ideal for vegetarians who want a healthy grain-based alternative to meat dishes.
In addition to being versatile enough to work in many different cuisines, basmati rice is gluten free, which makes it easier on those with allergies or intolerances.
The fact that it contains no gluten means you don’t have to worry about cross contamination during cooking either.
One bowl of basmati rice will serve two people easily.
The main ingredient in this Mediterranean rice recipe is spinach.
Spinach provides a good dose of iron and vitamin K, both important nutrients that help keep your body strong and healthy.
Other ingredients include onion, garlic, mushrooms, and tomato paste.
All of these are used to add flavor and boost nutrition levels.
Mushrooms contain selenium, which helps fight cancer.
Onions provide B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and pantothenic acid, which improve energy levels and aid digestion.
Tomato paste adds another layer of complexity to the mix, providing additional taste while helping to prevent food poisoning by killing harmful bacteria.
Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower also contribute to the nutritional value of this Mediterranean rice recipe.
Some versions of this recipe call for canned tomatoes instead of using fresh ones.
If you choose to use them, be sure you drain off some of the liquid first so it doesn’t affect the texture of your finished product.
How Can One Make A Mediterranean Rice Recipe More Flavorful?
The key to making a Mediterranean rice recipe taste great is to add plenty of flavor.
Here are three ways you can do so.
- Use good quality olive oil – Use extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil because it will have much more flavor than regular cooking oils.
- Add lots of fresh herbs – Basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram work best here.
- You can also use other herbs such as dill, mint, cilantro, etc., if you like.
- Try using fresh lemons – The lemon juice adds brightness to any dish which makes it very refreshing.
- If you don’t have fresh lemons, you can get away with adding 1/4 teaspoon of zest to your rice along with the juice from 2 tablespoons of lemon.
There are different types of rice available on store shelves today, each with its own unique characteristics.
Some are short-grain, others long-grain, while still others are medium grain.
All these grains cook differently depending on how they are prepared.
For example, long grain rices tend to absorb liquid better than shorter grains, and medium grain rices take longer to cook than either type.
When preparing a Mediterranean rice recipe, always start off with short-grain brown rice.
When choosing between white and brown rice, choose the darker color (brown) because it takes longer to cook.
If you want to learn more about the differences among various kinds of rice, check out our article titled How to Choose the Best Type of Rice for Your Meal.
What Are Some Common Additions To A Mediterranean Rice
There are several ways you can customize your Mediterranean rice recipe depending on what ingredients you have available.
If you don’t want to use fresh basil leaves, feel free to substitute dried ones instead.
As far as other spices go, you could add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes along with 2 teaspoons paprika to give the dish extra flavor.
You could also try adding a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cayenne if you like spicy foods.
One thing I always do when cooking rice is to cook it separately from everything else.
When you stir-fry things like onions, peppers, and garlic, they tend to get too soft and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
By cooking the rice first, you allow them to finish simmering while the rest of the ingredients stay nice and crisp.
If you don’t have any fresh basil handy, there is another option.
Instead of using fresh basil, you could toss in about half cup of frozen chopped basil.
The frozen variety will last just fine, so you won’t need to worry about making fresh basil every time.
- large pot
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion diced small
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice rinsed and drained
- 2 ¼ cups water
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
- Sauté the onions until softened and slightly translucent.
- To the pot, add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper, and rice. Stir frequently for a few minutes, or until the rice becomes translucent.
- Bring to a simmer with the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and gently simmer the rice until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Turn off the heat in the pot. Lift the lid and place a clean dish towel on top. Replace the lid on top of the towel and set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the rice to steam.
- Fold in the pine nuts and cilantro after fluffing the rice with a fork. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.