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Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic.

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic. | iowagirleats.com

I can think of two enormous dishes I’ve eaten with enough regularity in my lifetime that my stomach has actually grown to accommodate their size, as it knows I am a culinary freight train incapable of stopping.

One is Tokyo Ramen – a giant bowl of noodles, broth, and other goodies I ate at least three times a week while living in Japan for a summer from a restaurant we called “The Peach” on account of us being unable to read Japanese, but able to recognize a fruit in the shape of a peach on the restaurant’s sign. #lifehack The first time I ordered a bowl I maybe put away a quarter of it before throwing in the towel. By the end of the summer I’d scoop up the last spoonful of broth then slam three plates of gyoza. Winning!

The second is a Chipotle Burrito Bowl. Do you remember your first bowl? For better or worse (I’m thinking worse?) I do, hahaha. I had just moved to Minneapolis after college when my parents and I, sweaty and exhausted from hauling boxes up three flights of stairs for 6 hours, drove to a burrito shop down the street that I’d never heard of – Chipotle! I ordered an enormous burrito bowl, ate half, and was so full I couldn’t move the rest of the day. Fast forward 10, ok 12, years later (😭) and I now demolish an entire bowl with half a bag of chips as edible forks at least once a week (which I will admit has become a challenge since half my torso is being taken up by a jicama-sized baby as of this week!) It’s the guacamole, which is super garlicky without being too garlicky. Know what I mean?

Not only do I love Chipotle’s guacamole so much that I’ve trained my stomach to eat as much of it as possible, I also love that their burrito bowls are fresh and a complete meal in one (and that the restaurant’s employees are AWESOME about changing their gloves to be gluten-free-friendly, but that’s besides the point!) They’re also what inspired the healthy and vibrant recipe I’m sharing with you today – Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice!

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic. | iowagirleats.com

Oh yes, I’m calling this dish the Mediterranean version of a Chipotle Burrito Bowl and it is all kinds of delicious. Think Greek Salad, meets Greek Chicken, meets yellow rice because yellow rice (aka YUM.) Healthy, beautiful, and totally filling, though I doubt you’ll have any trouble downing a big bowl of it!

Let’s break it down – first you have a layer of fluffy yellow rice. Yellow rice is common in Cuban, Latin, and Indian cooking, so it might be a stretch to call it “Mediterranean” though the turmeric used to give it that gorgeous golden hue is used in Lebanese cooking, which is on the Mediterranean Sea, so I went with it. To be honest, it just sounded like it’d go really well with these flavors and it definitely does.

On top of the rice we’ve got all the toppings which make bowl meals so fun! I took inspiration from Greek chicken by roasting then chopping chicken that’s marinated in a lemon-oregano dressing, and used the same dressing to marinate cooked chickpeas. The pairing is dynamite. The freshest components of a classic Greek Salad – cucumber, red onion, and tomato – round out the bowl, and the whole thing is drizzled with an intensely garlicky sauce that I borrowed from my Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa. Together they create a dazzling bowl of flavor, color, and deliciousness.

Now, you might take a look at the ingredient list and get nervous, but many ingredients such as lemon, garlic, and salt are used several times, and items like dried oregano, canned beans, and rice are kitchen staples. Plus, since these bowls are intended to be eaten warm and not piping hot, you can make most of the components ahead of time, save for the rice. Cook that just before serving, ok?

Well what are we waiting for, let’s get cookin’!

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic. | iowagirleats.com

Start by mixing up the lemon dressing that’s used as both the chicken and chickpea marinade – 2 birds and all that! 😀 In small bowl or mason jar, whisk or shake up fresh lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper, dried oregano, a little bit of Dijon mustard, a couple minced garlic cloves, and extra virgin olive oil.

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Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade then add to a bowl with a 15oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) that’s been drained and rinsed, then lightly season with more salt and pepper.

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Pour the rest of the marinade into a large Ziplock bag with 1lb chicken breasts, more salt and pepper, then place both the chickpeas and chicken into the fridge to marinate while you prep the rest of the dish.

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Next blend up the garlic sauce that gets drizzled on top of the bowls – I am so obsessed with this sauce! It’s just 3/4 cup mayo (I like Hellmann’s extra virgin olive oil mayo,) 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves that have been minced, and salt to taste. Add up to another Tablespoon fresh lemon juice if you want it even tangier, then stash in the refrigerator. You could make this sauce up to a couple days ahead of time AND it makes an amazing french fry dip. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙊

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Next up is the yellow rice which gets it’s lovely hue from turmeric. Turmeric has been used medicinally for thousands of years and not only has anti-inflammatory benefits, but can also help lower bad levels of cholesterol (among many other benefits.)

It’s difficult to describe turmeric’s flavor – warm is the first word that comes to mind – though it gives this rice an almost buttery taste. I love it!

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To make the yellow rice, add 2 Tablespoons chopped shallots or onion to 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat then season with salt and saute until the shallots are tender, 2 minutes. Add 1 clove minced garlic then saute for 30 seconds, and then add 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric and saute for another 30 seconds.

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Lastly, add 1 cup long grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine) then stir to coat and toast until the rice is fragrant, about a minute. Add 1-1/4 cups chicken broth then turn the heat up to bring to a boil, place a lid on top, and turn the heat down to low so the broth is barely at a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the rice.

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Finally, roast the marinated chicken breasts. Remove the chicken from the marinade then place onto a foil-lined, nonstick-sprayed baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until cooked through, then chop once the chicken is cool enough to handle. This is another step you could do a day ahead of time.

You could absolutely saute or grill the chicken instead, but roasting it produces the most tender and juicy chicken, plus it’s easy and hands-off. Pop it in the oven, set a timer, and forget about it!

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Last stop – assembly! Scoop the yellow rice into bowls then top with the marinated chickpeas and chopped chicken, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh cucumbers, thinly sliced red onions, and lots of creamy garlic sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if you please, then go to town! I hope you love these healthy and vibrant Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice as much as I do!

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic. | iowagirleats.com

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice

Description

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic.

Ingredients

serves 4-5

  • 1lb chicken breasts
  • 15oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans,) drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 small red onion
  • chopped fresh parsley, optional
  • For the chicken and chickpea marinade:
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • For the garlic sauce:
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s EVOO mayo)
    • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • salt
  • For the turmeric rice:
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons minced shallot or onion
    • salt
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
    • 1 cup long grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine)
    • 1-1/4 cups gluten-free chicken broth

Directions

  1. For the chicken and chickpea marinade: Whisk marinade ingredients together in a small bowl then reserve 1/4 cup marinade and pour the rest into a large Ziplock bag. Add chicken to the Ziplock bag, season with more salt and pepper, then place in the refrigerator to marinate while preparing the rest of the dish. Combine reserved 1/4 cup marinade with chickpeas in a bowl then season with salt and pepper and place in the refrigerator to marinate alongside the chicken.
  2. For the garlic sauce: Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor then blend or process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use (can be done several days ahead of time.)
  3. For the turmeric rice: Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots or onions, season with salt, then saute until softened, 2 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 30 seconds, and then add turmeric and saute for 30 seconds. Add rice then saute until fragrant, 1 minute, and then add chicken broth and turn heat up to bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then turn heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes (heat should be low enough that the broth is at a very gentle, barely-there simmer.) Remove the pan from the heat then let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the rice. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Remove chicken from marinade then place on the baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Chop once cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes in half, peel, seed and chop the cucumber, then thinly slice the red onion.
  5. Scoop rice into bowls then top with chopped chicken, marinated chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion, then drizzle with garlic sauce and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if using, and serve.

Notes

  • You’ll need 3 lemons, and 5 garlic cloves to make this entire dish.
  • All the components of this dish are make-ahead, though I recommend you make the rice fresh the day you'll be eating.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls with Yellow Rice are healthy, gluten-free, and feature pops of fresh Mediterranean flavor like lemon and garlic. | iowagirleats.com