Mediterranean Rice Bowls (Vegan | Gluten-free | Meal prep)
November 2022 – The Spanish Radish Blog
Mediterranean rice bowls are easy to make, packed full of different flavors and textures, and as an added bonus, they’re also super healthy. Rice bowls are perfect for meal prepping and making quick and easy midweek dinners. This recipe guide offers three of the tastiest, healthiest, and easiest rice bowl recipes you can make vegan, vegetarian, and meat option!
Taking inspiration from the Mediterranean diet, these rice bowls combine lots of seasonal veg, plenty of protein, and loads of flavor with various options to cater to any diet. Here are 3 great recipes that are our current favorites:
Click on any of the links below to jump to recipe:
What are rice bowls?
Rice bowls are simply a balanced meal that are typically served in a “rice bowl”. Rice bowls are usually pretty uniform in size and shape and are a great way to measure up a good-sized serving.
We take the sizing from traditional Japanese rice bowls which are between 10-13cm in diameter and have an upside-down bell shape.
They come in a wide range of names these days, from Buddha bowls, protein bowls, KETO bowls…you name the diet, there’s a rice bowl recipe out there made especially for it.
What do you put in a rice bowl recipe?
The beauty of rice bowls is they offer endless possibilities and flavor combinations and can be made with pretty much anything (even leftovers). Just a quick search for ‘rice bowls’ on Google and you’ll be slammed with more recipe options than you could ever make (136,000,000 rice bowl results, that’s a lot of dinner options!).
The ingredients used in rice bowls will vary from one recipe to the next and can easily be customized to suit your taste and any dietary considerations. For the recipes suggested below, we’ve based the selection and flavors of our ingredients on the Mediterranean diet.
Rice Bowl ingredients
When considering ingredients for your own Mediterranean rice bowl, consider making the bowl in 5 parts;
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Sauce and seasoning
Aim for a balance between grain (including seeds and nuts), fresh produce, a protein source, dairy, and other ingredients of choice. Let’s take a look at what makes each layer in more detail.
These are the ingredients that are likely to fill you up, and much as the name suggests, rice is a great base ingredient for rice bowls. Other great base ingredients include;
- Pasta and spaghetti
- Cous cous
- Other seeds and grains
If you’ve got just one of these ingredients lying around in the pantry, you’re well on the way to making a rice bowl!
Another important part of the Mediterranean diet is a protein source that is usually derived from plant-based sources.
Common protein sources in the Mediterranean diet include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes. Red meat, poultry, and fish are also excellent sources of protein (although usually consumed in small portions in the Med diet). Protein-rich ingredients include;
- Legumes, beans, seeds, and nuts
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, and trout
- Egg and low-fat dairy (Feta cheese)
- Lean beef, pork, and lamb
Fresh vegetables and fruits
There are also plenty of vegetables that are excellent sources of protein and should be a major part in any Mediterranean rice bowl list of ingredients. Here are just a few high-protein vegetables (as suggested by our friends at Eating Well) found in the Mediterranean diet;
- Green Peas. 1 cup: 8.6 g protein.
- Artichokes. 1 cup: 4.8 g protein.
- Sweet Corn. 1 cup: 4.7 g protein.
- Avocado. 1 cup: 4.6 g protein.
- Asparagus. 1 cup: 4.3 g protein.
- Brussels Sprouts. 1 cup: 4 g protein.
- Mushrooms. 1 cup: 4 g protein.
- Kale. 1 cup: 3.5 g protein.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are also fantastic sources of nutrients and vitamins and should make up a good proportion of your diet. Load your rice bowls with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and you’re making a healthy choice.
This is where the magic happens. Load up your rice bowls with plenty of interesting flavors and textures from a wide variety of ingredients. Here’s a little inspiration;
- Hummus (check out our homemade Mediterranean hummus recipe)
- Green and black olives
- Falafels (Beetroot falafel recipe)
- Pickled radishes, carrots, or cauliflower
- Feta cheese
- Tinned artichoke hearts
- Red and white onion (pickled or fresh)
- Seeds and nuts
- Dried or fresh fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries)
Sauces and seasoning
Adding some tasty sauce or salad dressing to your bowl can really elevate your meal to super meal status, and it’s super easy.
Don’t reach straight for store-bought sauces, we’ve got a much healthier option that’s likely to be cheaper to make and can be customized to suit your taste. Super quick and simple dressings can be whipped up in mere minutes with no fancy equipment.
Cooking tip: Use a clean glass jar with a sealable lid to make your dressings and store them in too.
Try any of these easy dressing ingredients together;
- Greek yogurt
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Crushed garlic
- Salt & pepper
- Cumin powder
- Sweet, smoked, hot paprika (check out our paprika cooking guide here)
How to make Mediterranean rice bowls
Rice bowls are very easy to make, they just need a little planning and preparation to ensure things go smoothly. They’re also ideal for meal prepping and can offer a great way to get ahead of midweek dinner prep with one big Sunday night cook-up. Follow the 4 easy steps below:
Step 1 – Prepare rice
We find the easiest way to prepare a big batch of rice is to use a rice cooker. Use your favorite and trusted method.
How much rice per person?
You need around ½ cup of rice per serving. We usually make 3 cups of rice at a time, and that works out to around 6 meals.
Best rice to use for rice bowls
We mostly use Jasmine rice or basmati rice as they taste great and can be easily found in any supermarket.
Note: Avoid using paella rice or Italian Aribora rice in your rice bowls. While both of these are common in the Mediterranean, the rice is just too heavy and holds too much liquid to be suitable for rice bowls. Any long-grain rice is a good substitute.
Step 2 – Prepare protein ingredients and roast veg
Meat and roasted veg should be next on the list and we make good use of oven-roasting ingredients. Again if you’re planning on doing a big batch, this might take a while so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.
Cooking tips include cutting all your roasted veg ingredients in advance. If you’re using a marinade for your meat, be sure to give it at least 30 minutes in the marinade before cooking. Check each recipe’s instructions for more detailed cooking methods.
Step 3 – Prepare toppings and sauces
Toppings are usually packaged goods of things you find in the jar so they make for easy work to add to your rice bowls. If anything needs to be cooked or prepared, it’s a good time to get this done while you’re waiting for your roasted veggies, meat, or protein ingredients to cook.
Homemade sauces also take virtually no time and can be made fresh each time you need them or make a bigger batch to use the next day too. A good trick is to make sauces in a clean jar with a sealable lid. Simply add ingredients into the jar, shake, and pour over your rice bowl.
Step 4 – Assemble rice bowl
Once you’ve got all of your ingredients ready, it’s simply a matter of assembling each bowl;
- Start off with the rice, and add around 6 heaped tablespoons worth of cooked white rice. Next, add your protein and roasted veg (while still warm).
- Add any cold vegetables, salad, or fruit ingredients along with your choice of toppings.
- Finally, add your choice of dressing and serve.
Make ahead rice bowls
Not gonna lie, here at Spanish radish HQ, we love a good meal-prepping session. Fire up the oven, chop up some seasonal veg and let them roast away while you catch up on that series or blog post you’ve been meaning to. An hour later, your roast veg is done and you’ve barely lifted a finger in the kitchen!
If you want to add meat, you can also cook up your chosen meaty protein goodness and store it in the fridge (or freezer for bigger batches). On this note, it’s worth mentioning that most cooked meat will be safe to store in the fridge for 2-3 days maximum. Always store any cooked meat in an airtight container.
Mediterranean rice bowl dressings can also easily be made ahead of time. If you use our jar shaker trick to make the sauce, storing it is easy as pie, just pop it in the fridge and each time you use it, give your dressing a shake before serving.
Dietary considerations and rice bowls
The best thing about rice bowls is they are completely customizable and can be made to suit any dietary considerations. Rice bowls can be made to suit vegan, vegetarian, Keto, high-carb, low-carb, or any other diet. The recipes below are just a few suggestions, but no matter what diet considerations you have, there’s a rice bowl recipe for it.
Ingredient lists and substitutions
Hey, we get it, sometimes a recipe looks super tough to make when there are a million ingredients listed. But don’t worry, you can make rice bowls with pretty much anything (even leftovers). Feel free to add or omit any ingredients as you see fit.
Just remember there are 5 basic parts to your Mediterranean rice bowl:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits
- Sauce and seasoning
The Mediterranean Diet -
It’s no secret that the Mediterranean diet is healthy. It has been proven in numerous studies from all corners of the world; it aids weight loss, reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as a growing list of other health benefits.
Find out what’s most exciting about the diet and create some incredibly tasty and simple Spanish recipes.
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