I’ll never forget the first time I ate chickpeas. As I sat there, chewing on those amazingly textured beans with their sweet, nutty flavor, I wondered where have these been all my life? The answer was in my hummus, I just didn’t know they could be enjoyed on their own!
Since then, I’ve been experimenting with the best ways to enjoy this delicious bean. I’ve put them on leafy green salads and mashed them to make vegetarian chickpea salad sandwiches. I turn them into chickpea burgers and add them to Buddha bowls. I toss them in with pasta for Pasta e Fagioli and simmer them in soups.
My latest use is in this chickpea Mediterranean rice recipe, and I can’t wait to share the recipe with you! It’s filled with savory tomato flavors, nutty chickpeas, and salty feta, all tossed together with healthy brown rice. What’s not to love?
What Is a Chickpea?
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, so it’s no surprise that they’re a prominent feature in the Mediterranean diet. You can soak dried beans overnight and simmer them until they’re tender, but they’re widely available pre-cooked in cans. Just check out the nutrition label and make sure you’re choosing a chickpea with minimal additives and preservatives.
Chickpeas have a nutty flavor and an incredible texture. Even after simmering them for long periods of time, chickpeas don’t break down like other beans and instead remain intact. This makes them ideal for roasting or sauteing in hot oil because the outside will crisp up while the inside remains chewy and slightly grainy.
The bean itself is packed full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. One cups of chickpeas contains half of your recommended daily intake of fiber. That means these small beans will keep you feeling full and satiated for longer. They also contain 30 percent of your daily value of protein, helping you build muscle and promoting weight loss.
Mediterranean Diet for Health
The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to healthy lifestyles. It emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Whole grains, like brown rice, are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet.
Brown rice is one of the healthiest varieties of rice, and unlike white rice, it doesn’t need to be enriched with nutrients. It’s naturally nutrient dense, full of fiber, manganese, niacin, and vitamin B6. Combine brown rice with legumes (like chickpeas), and you have yourself a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
If you’re interested in following the Mediterranean diet for improved health, you should definitely check out this chickpea Mediterranean rice recipe. It’s a great way to dive into this diet, but it’s also perfect for a quick, healthy lunch or dinner.
One of the things I love about this recipe is it stands alone as a flavorful side, or you can top it with grilled chicken and serve as an entree. Let us know in the comments how you enjoyed this chickpea Mediterranean rice recipe.
Yields: 6 servings | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 269 | Total Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 286mg | Carbohydrates: 42g | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Protein: 9g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 9
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1(14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium red onion, chopped small
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped small
- 3 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- 3 cups brown rice, cooked
- 1 teaspoon no sugar added tomato paste
- 1 small roma tomato, chopped small
- 1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese crumbles
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Once hot, add the chickpeas, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often until onion is soft.
- Stir in the roasted red pepper, oregano, rice, and tomato paste. Heat until hot, stirring frequently. Spoon into serving dishes and top with roma tomato and feta. Squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges on top and serve.