Lightly seasoned and perfectly fluffy, Chickpea Rice Pilaf is a delicious side or main dish. It's easy to make on the stove in 30 minutes.
While in Asian cuisines it's common to serve plain steamed rice as a side dish, in Mediterranean cuisines you'll often find seasoned vegetable rice pilaf. I like to think of these dishes as more than sides. In fact, I often enjoy them as a main course along with a salad or vegetables.
But before I learned how to make my own pilafs, I frequently bought boxed mixes of seasoned rice. However, now I know how easy it is to make dishes like Chickpea Rice Pilaf at home. And I'm happy to share my method with you.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It has the perfect light and fluffy texture.
- You can make it 30 minutes.
- It can be enjoyed as a side dish or a main dish.
- Olive oil: This is the healthiest fat to consume as part of a vegan Mediterranean diet.
- Onion: Choose your favorite color or use whatever you have on hand.
- Fresh garlic
- Red bell pepper: Or substitute green, orange, or yellow.
- Long-grain white rice: Look for rice labeled "long-grain" or Jasmine. If you prefer to use brown rice, add an extra ½ cup water. The rice will take a little longer to cook.
- Cooked chickpeas: I use canned in this recipe, but you can also cook your own from dried in advance.
- Fresh parsley: For a burst of fresh flavor and color.
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon wedges: Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the rice before eating.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
To prepare this recipe you will need a large pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. You will also need a cloth kitchen towel.
Before you get started, rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer. This simple step will result in a fluffier rice pilaf.
Step 1: Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat.
Step 2: Add the garlic and red bell pepper and saute a minute more.
Step 3: Add the rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir for a couple of minutes until the rice starts to turn translucent.
Step 4: Stir in the water and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and allow the rice to cook and absorb the liquid.
Step 5: Remove the pot from the heat. Add the chickpeas on top of the rice. Do not stir.
Step 6: Place a clean dish towel on top of the pot and cover with the lid. Allow the rice and chickpeas to steam 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 7: Fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with lemon wedges.
- For extra flavor use vegetable broth in place of water.
- Add seasonings like cumin, coriander, or your favorite spice blend.
- Swap out the bell pepper for other vegetables like mushrooms or zucchini.
- Instead of parsley stir in a little pesto or chimichurri sauce.
It's easy to turn Chickpea Rice Pilaf into a complete meal by serving it with your favorite salads or vegetables.
Leftover rice can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in a microwave or in a pot on the stove with a little water.
If you want to use dried beans, cook them in advance before making this recipe. You will need ½ cup of dried chickpeas which will be approximately 1½ cups when cooked.
Yes, they are one in the same. The word chickpea is derived from Latin, while the word garbanzo is derived from Spanish.
If you would like to use long-grain brown rice in place of the white rice, add an extra ½ cup of water. The brown rice will take a little longer to cook.
More rice recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Chickpea Rice Pilaf
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced small
- 1½ cups long-grain white rice, rinsed*
- 2¼ cups water
- 15 ounces chickpeas, (1½ cups) rinsed and drained
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened and slightly translucent.
- Next add the garlic and red bell pepper and saute for a minute more.
- Then add the rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir frequently for a couple of minutes until the rice starts to look translucent.
- Stir in the water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the rice to gently simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Lift up the lid and add the chickpeas on top of the rice. Do not stir.
- Lay a clean dish towel over the top of the pot. Replace the lid on top of the towel and allow the rice and chickpeas to steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the parsley. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with lemon wedges.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.