mediterranean chicken and chickpea bowls with fresh toppings

I can think of two dishes I’ve eaten with enough regularity in my life that my stomach grew to accommodate their size — as it knows I am a culinary freight train incapable of stopping.

One is Tokyo Ramen, aka a giant bowl of noodles, broth, and other goodies I ate at least three times a week while living in Japan, mostly 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. Wow.

The second is a Chipotle Burrito Bowl. The first time I ever had one was after moving into my first apartment in Minneapolis after college. My parents and I, sweaty and exhausted from hauling boxes up three flights of stairs for 6 hours straight, drove to a burrito shop down the street that we’d never heard of – Chipotle! I ordered a burrito bowl, ate half, and was so full I couldn’t move the rest of the day. Fast forward to present day and I can demolish an entire bowl with half a bag of chips as edible forks at least once a week.

Stomach busting stories aside, Chipotle Burrito Bowls are what inspired today’s healthy and vibrant recipe of Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls!

overhead photo of mediterranean chicken and chickpea bowl

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.

Fluffy yellow rice is topped with roasted chicken and chickpeas that have been marinated in a Greek-inspired vinaigrette, plus the freshest components of a classic Greek Salad: cucumber, red onion, and tomato. Lastly, an intensely garlicky sauce that I borrowed from my Chicken Shawarma Fries with Mediterranean Salsa is drizzled on top.

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Together these ingredients create a dazzling bowl of flavor, color, and deliciousness. What are we waiting for, let’s get cooking!

fork getting a bit of yellow rice from a bowl

How to Make This Recipe

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.

homemade lemon dressing in a measuring cup

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 mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt blended until smooth. You could make this sauce up to a couple days ahead of time, FYI.

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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 chopped shallots or onion to 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 minced garlic then saute for 30 seconds, and then add turmeric and saute for another 30 seconds.

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Lastly, add long grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine) then stir to coat and toast until the rice is fragrant, about a minute. Pour in 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 – assemble! 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 fresh parsley on top

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls

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Description

Mediterranean Chicken and Chickpea Bowls are a healthy, gluten free, Mediterranean inspired version of a Chipotle Burrito Bowl!

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.

photo collage of mediterranean chicken and chickpea bowls