This vegetarian rice dish has an unbelievable amount of flavor!
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular plans out there! It’s an excellent diet for heart-health since it focuses on eating mostly plant-based ingredients, along with omega-3 fatty acid rich fish, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It characterizes the eating style of the countries located along the Mediterranean sea. Our vegetarian Mediterranean Style Fried Rice is the perfect way to dip your foot into this new popular diet!
We use heart-healthy ingredients like olive oil, brown rice, tomatoes filled with the antioxidant lycopene, and iron-rich spinach. Put it all together and fold in some salty fat-free feta and you have a meal fit for a queen! And since each serving of this delicious rice clocks in at only 200 calories, you can serve it up with a Mediterranean diet-approved protein like fish or poultry. Or, keep things vegetarian and add some roasted tofu to the dish to amp-up the plant-based protein!
I Thought Fried Rice Had to Have Eggs?
You might notice that we don’t have any eggs in our Mediterranean Style Fried Rice recipe. But wait, doesn’t all fried rice have to have eggs? They’re definitely a popular ingredient, but we don’t find them strictly necessary for this recipe.
In Asian-style fried rice recipes (like our Restaurant Style Chicken Fried Rice recipe), the eggs work as a binder that brings the rice and vegetables together. These recipes usually contain soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari, as well. Our Mediterranean Style Fried Rice is going for a different texture: a vegetable-forward, saucy rice dish.
We start by cooking the onions until they’re soft and translucent. This makes them melt-in-your-mouth tender and gives them a touch of sweetness. Contrast those sweet onions with pungent garlic, and you immediately have the start of something super flavorful. Then, once we’ve warmed the rice through, we add the chopped tomatoes and spinach.
The savory tomatoes release their juices as they cook, creating an unbelievably rich “sauce” for our rice. The spinach contributes its unique, earthy green flavor as it wilts into the sauce. By the time you fold in the feta (which doesn’t necessarily melt, but it will soften with the heat), you have a completely different take on fried rice that you’ll fall in love with!
A Quick Note about Brown Rice
You might have noticed that we’re using brown rice instead of white rice for this recipe. This ingredient is not only more in keeping with the Mediterranean diet, but it will add valuable nutrients to your everyday life, too. In addition to complex carbohydrates (which will keep you feeling full for hours), you’ll also get energy and a boost to your immune system from the vitamin B6, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium in brown rice.
Anytime you can swap-in brown rice for white rice, we’d recommend taking the challenge! It takes a bit longer to cook, but it’s absolutely worth it. You could also use quinoa, but we think the texture of brown rice works perfectly for this Mediterranean Style Fried Rice. Whip up a batch and let us know what you thought in the comments!
Mediterranean Style Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup red onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups brown rice cooked
- 2 roma tomatoes diced small
- 2 cups baby spinach fresh
- 1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese crumbled
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Increase the heat to medium high and add the rice.
- Cook the rice for about 5 minutes, or until hot. Stir in tomatoes and spinach and continue to cook, stirring often, until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and gently fold in the feta cheese. Serve hot.
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