Baked Mediterranean Rice with Dates, Apricots, and Chickpeas (Healthy, Vegan)

Baked Mediterranean rice with dates, apricots, and chickpeas is an easy-to-make meal that comes together in just over an hour. It’s vegan-friendly and loaded with healthy ingredients, with just 319 calories per serving. It’s also super filling, and packed full of flavor with the rice, chickpeas, and veg baked with lots of spices, dried fruit, and lemon wedges. 

Fresh, fragrant, and packed with fiber, this recipe is perfect for serving as a main meal, or as a side alongside a main dish. The proportions in this recipe make 6 main meal servings or around 12 side servings. 

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Table of contents:


How to Make Baked Mediterranean Rice with Dates, Apricots, and Chickpeas


Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or dried chili) 
  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice, rinsed in fresh water
  • 2 cups of cooked (prepared) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh dill, chopped (keep a few sprigs for garnish) 
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (homemade or store-bought is fine) 
  • 1/3 cup black pitted olives (e.g. kalamata olives)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ¼ cup dried dates (pitted and sliced in half) 
  • ¼ cup dried apricots (diced) 
  • 1 large lemon, in wedges (to serve)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Large bowl (for mixing ingredients)
  • Pot
  • Ladle
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large fry pan or skillet
  • Large oven-safe dish
a bowl of chickpeas sits next to some dried dates, cherry tomatoes, spinach leaves, lemons, herbs, and spices.

Instructions

  1. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  3. In a large fry pan or skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft. 
  4. Add the garlic and dill. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (and oil) and a splash of veg stock. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 3 minutes
  5. Add the oregano, cayenne pepper, and season with some salt and pepper (to taste). 
  6. Stir in the rice, stirring through the other ingredients to coat. Add the chickpeas and mix well. 
  7. Carefully ladle the hot stock over the mixture and gently mix through. Cover with foil, and bake at 400°F/200°C for 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Around ¾ way through, check the rice and add a splash more stock/water if it has completely dried out. 
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the spinach, olives and cherry tomatoes.
  9. Right before serving season to taste, and add the diced apricots and dates on top with a few small sprigs of dill. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on top as desired.

A large pan of Mediterranean Rice garnished with black olives and fresh parsley.

What to Serve with Mediterranean Rice with Dates, Apricots, and Chickpeas

This recipe is loaded with healthy ingredients and is very filling. It can be served as a main meal all on its own or served as a side dish for your favorite main dish. This recipe pairs well with other vegan dishes such as grilled or roasted veg, or falafels. Alternatively, it can be served alongside your choice of meat, fish, or seafood. 

Best Rice to Use

We used white long-grain rice for this recipe, but virtually any white rice (basmati, Jasmine) will do. Just be sure to check the packet for a guide on cooking instructions as some white rice may take a little longer than others. 

For best results, always rinse rice in fresh water for a few minutes to remove any starch on the rice. Once the water runs through the rice clear, it is ready for cooking. 

Can brown rice be used? 

Yes, absolutely! Brown rice is generally healthier and typically contains more nutrients than white rice. If you’re looking for a firmer grain with this recipe, use brown rice. You will need to adjust the amount of stock (or water) you add to the recipe as brown rice is more dense and takes longer to cook. 

Allow an extra cup or two and around 15 minutes extra cooking time. Be sure to check your rice around ¾ way through cooking to check if it needs more moisture added. 


Ingredient Substitutions

The herbs used in this recipe are found all over the Mediterranean and are used in a lot of recipes. Of course, if you don’t like dill or oregano, you can always substitute them for other herbs. This recipe will work well with rosemary, thyme, or even basil. 

Fruit and Vegetable Substitutions

This recipe is very versatile and can be easily adapted to suit your personal taste. Don’t like onion? Sub them for leeks. Not a fan of dried fruits? Omit them and use fresh fruit such as pear slices, grapes, or fresh figs instead. 

While the sweet and savory notes work really well together, if you are looking for more savory flavors, omit the fruit and use diced green bell pepper (capsicum) or zucchini. A little diced red bell pepper will add plenty of color, and red onion can always be subbed for normal yellow onion, or even spring onions.


FAQs

How long does Mediterranean rice with dried fruit and chickpeas take to make? 

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Resting time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Is this Mediterranean rice recipe healthy? 

Yes, this recipe is very healthy and can be served as a main on its own or alongside your favorite vegetables, meat, fish, or seafood dish. A main (200g) serving of Mediterranean rice contains:

  • 319 calories per serve
  • 1.9g of saturated fats
  • 55.1 g or carbohydrates 
  • 7.2g of dietary fiber
  • 5mg iron

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 6
Amount per serving 
Calories319
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.3g12%
Saturated Fat 1.9g10%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 460mg20%
Total Carbohydrate 55.1g20%
Dietary Fiber 7.2g26%
Total Sugars 11.4g 
Protein 9g 
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 107mg8%
Iron 5mg28%
Potassium 455mg10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
A large colorful bowl of Mediterranean rice.
A large colorful bowl of Mediterranean rice.

Baked Mediterranean Rice with Dates, Apricots, and Chickpeas (Healthy, Vegan)

Byron
Baked Mediterranean rice with dates, apricots, and chickpeas is an easy-to-make meal that comes together in just over an hour. It’s vegan-friendly and loaded with healthy ingredients, with just 319 calories per serving. It’s also super filling, and packed full of flavor with the rice, chickpeas, and veg baked with lots of spices, dried fruit, and lemon wedges.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
resting time: 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Vegan
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean, Middle East, Moroccan
Servings 4 main
Calories 319 kcal

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Large bowl (for mixing ingredients)
  • Pot
  • Ladle
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large fry pan or skillet
  • Large oven-safe dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 red onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper or dried chili
  • 1 cup of long-grain white rice rinsed in fresh water
  • 2 cups of cooked prepared chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh dill chopped (keep a few sprigs for garnish)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock homemade or store-bought is fine
  • 1/3 cup black pitted olives e.g. kalamata olives
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ¼ cup dried dates pitted and sliced in half
  • ¼ cup dried apricots diced
  • 1 large lemon in wedges (to serve)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Bring the vegetable stock to a boil.
    3 cups vegetable stock
    A table loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
    Oven temperature dial.
  • In a large fry pan or skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft.
    1 red onion, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    A pan of simmering red onion and some sun dried tomatoes.
  • Add the garlic and dill. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes (and oil) and a splash of veg stock. Reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.
    4 cloves garlic, 4-5 sprigs of fresh dill, 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
    A pan of simmering red onion and some sun dried tomatoes.
  • Add the oregano, cayenne pepper, and season with some salt and pepper (to taste).
    1 teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, Salt and pepper
    A pan of simmering red onion and some sun dried tomatoes.
  • Stir in the rice, stirring through the other ingredients to coat. Add the chickpeas and mix well.
    1 cup of long-grain white rice, 2 cups of cooked
    Rice is added to a large pan of onion, spices and sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Carefully ladle the hot stock over the mixture and gently mix through. Cover with foil, and bake at 400°F/200°C for 40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Around ¾ way through, check the rice and add a splash more stock/water if it has completely dried out.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the spinach, olives and cherry tomatoes. Right before serving season to taste, and add the diced apricots and dates on top with a few small sprigs of dill. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze on top as desired.
    1/3 cup black pitted olives, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup dried dates, ¼ cup dried apricots, 1 large lemon
    A large colorful bowl of Mediterranean rice.

Video

Keyword 1 Hour recipe, Apricots, Baked rice, chickpeas, Dates, Dried fruit, mediterranean rice, oven baked, rice, Vegan, Vegetarian

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