The greeks can get pretty fancy with a simple rice dish. This delicious lemony rice uses just rice, chickpeas and a few other pantry ingredients to make a delicious lunch or side. Got a pressure cooker? It’s ready in 10 minutes. Or just make it on the stove top.
‘Kind of’ a Greek risotto for a lunch or side
If you’re a fan of risotto, you’ll probably like this. You could say it’s like a Greek risotto or a rice pilaf. A simple one made with just a few ingredients. If you have a pressure cooker, it’s ready in about 10 minutes. If not, just make it on the stove top in not much more time than this.
You absolutely could eat this beautiful Mediterranean rice dish by itself, perhaps squeezed with extra lemon and a sprinkle of feta cheese. All you need is a bowl of this and you have a simple but delicious, hearty and healthy vegetarian lunch.
Personally, my favourite way to eat it is as a side dish – with something simple like roast chicken, steak, meatballs or fish. But it also makes pretty good lunch leftovers – either hot or cold.
What you need to make it
It’s quite possible that you have almost everything you need in the cupboard already to make this delicious lemony rice.
Things you may have already:
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- dried oregano
- chicken or veggie stock (choose veggie of course if you want to keep the dish vegetarian or even vegan)
- onion and garlic
Things you might have to buy:
- a couple of lemons (both the zest and the juice)
- a can of chickpeas
Optional – but recommended – toppings:
- fresh dill
- feta cheese
What kind of rice to use
Actually, the kind of rice you use for this recipe isn’t as important as you might think.
Usually (but not always), I use a risotto rice. Or arborio rice. These types will get you a creamy result, a bit like an actual risotto.
But to be honest I’ve used all kinds of rice to make this… successfully!
Only got plain white rice? No problem!
Pro tip: Don’t wash the rice first. You don’t want to wash away the starch as that’s what will make the dish nice and creamy.
This is my equipment of choice for making this simple Greek lemon rice:
- Any kind of Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. It doesn’t have to be Instant Pot. I have a Breville which I’ve been pleased with.
- If you don’t have the above, just make it on the stove top/cooktop. A cast iron pot with a lid is perfect, but any large heavy pan will work.
How to make it in an electric pressure cooker
It couldn’t be easier to make this if you happen to have an Instant pot or electric pressure cooker. Can you believe you can make it in just 10 minutes?
Here’s what you do.
- Soften red onions with garlic in a generous amount of olive oil (don’t be shy).
- Add most of the other ingredients (rice, stock, herbs, lemon, chickpeas, salt, pepper).
- Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes followed by a quick release of the pressure.
- Scatter over more lemon juice and fresh dill. Sprinkle over some feta cheese too if you like.
There might be a little excess liquid when it’s just cooked. As it stands, however, the liquid will be absorbed. Leftovers will absorb even more of the liquid. The amount of liquid doesn’t really matter, however. Either way is delicious.
Can you make it on the stove top?
Yep! If you don’t happen to have a pressure cooker, you can still make this very quickly and easily in about 15 minutes.
The process for making it is pretty much the same. The cook time is slightly longer, but the dish ends up being ready at about the same time because you aren’t waiting for the pressure cooker to come to pressure.
You don’t have to babysit it while it’s cooking too much, either. Just stir a couple of times during the cooking time and add a splash more water if it needs it.
How to serve it
This yummy Greek lemony rice makes an excellent easy side dish! It goes especially well with:
- these easy baked chicken thighs. You can throw them in your oven or even air fryer before you start cooking your rice so that they’re ready at the same time.
- impossible quiche or zucchini slice! Again, just make the rice while they’re in the oven.
- Greek spinach and feta filo pie. This is especially great if you want to keep your meal vegetarian.
- a yummy protein like crispy mustard parmesan chicken or Greek baked fish.
- all kinds of warm or cold leftovers. Just whatever you have!
However… I do sometimes happily eat this rice on its own. It’s particulary delicious scattered with a bit of fresh dill and feta cheese.
What to do with the leftovers
Greek rice also makes great lunch leftovers. Warm through again in the microwave, or take to work and eat cold.
Alternatively, you could turn your leftovers into a real treat. Have you ever made arancini balls? Leftover Mediterranean rice with chickpeas would make incredible arancini. I have a recipe for leftover risotto arancini if you’d like to give my theory a go! Just stuff cubes of feta cheese in the middle instead of mozzarella.
If you like, add some frozen or fresh spinach as well as or even instead of the chickpeas. Spinach rice is also very tasty and a common lunch food in Greece.
Add some mushrooms or leeks with the onions. Vary the dried herbs.
This is delicious as a vegan (just skip the feta) or vegetarian rice dish. But if you like you can add meat. Just saute some chicken pieces with the onions for a few minutes before cooking as normal.
More easy Mediterranean side dishes
- I’ve made these 2-minute olive oil toasts more times than I can count when I need a SUPER easy side. Give them a try – you’ll be hooked!
- Make a dish of this yummy baked feta with tomatoes, peppers and olives and serve it with some roast chicken, steak or fish. Mmmm.
- These Greek potatoes are legendary. Seriously, you have to try them.
- This is our very favourite baked eggplant with tomatoes and feta. Make it the day before, then just reheat and serve with meatballs. Incredible.
- Many of these 15 easy Greek appetizers can be served as side dishes. Check them out!
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Lemony Mediterranean rice with chickpeas (pressure cooker or stove top)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup rice
- 1 can chickpeas ready cooked (14 ounces or 400 grams)
- 2½ cups stock (vegetable or chicken) US = broth
- 2 lemons zest and juice of 1, second lemon to add to taste
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
To add after cooking (dill and feta both optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped) plus a little extra for sprinkling over the top
- 2 ounces feta cheese (crumbled over the top)
- Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker on the saute function. Alternatively, heat it on the stove top.
- Add the chopped onion and soften for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another few seconds.
- Add the oregano and rice. Stir fry for about a minute until the rice starts to go translucent.
- Add the stock, chickpeas, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and salt and pepper. If using the pressure cooker, cook on high pressure (manual) for 6 minutes. Do a quick release of the pressure. If cooking on the stove top, simmer for around 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir every now and again during cooking.
- Stir the dill (if using) through the rice. Serve as a side or in bowls for lunch with the feta crumbled over the top if you like and a little extra dill. Also let everyone squeeze over a little more lemon juice to taste.