I love all things “one pot”. Cooking everything in one pot or skillet just makes my life so much easier, and when everything cooks together, all the flavor stays in the pot! This simple Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf is like a classic “beans and rice” meal, but elevated. It’s still super inexpensive and filling, but it has tons of herbs and spices, some extra greens to keep things well rounded, plus bright pops of fresh lemon and salty feta. SO GOOD.
Serve as a Side Dish or Main
Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf is a tasty little skillet dish that can easily be used as a side dish for roasted meat (I’m thinking something like Herb Roasted Pork Loin or Greek Marinated Chicken), or can be served in bigger portions as a vegetarian main dish. With its herby flavor and bright pops of lemon and feta, it definitely has enough going on to stand on its own. I’m going to be eating it as a main dish this week, probably sometimes topped with a fried egg (because I luuuuurv my fried eggs).
Fresh Lemon is Key
Fresh lemon is really key for this recipe. You’ll be using both the juice and the zest. Fresh lemon zest adds a TON of lemony flavor, without all the extra acidity that the juice brings. Single lemons can be pricey on their own, so consider buying a bag of lemons and freezing them. Frozen lemons work great for juicing and zesting (but not slicing). Learn how to freeze whole citrus here.
What Kind of Skillet works Best?
For any one pot recipe you want to make sure you’re using a quality piece of cookware that is thick, heavy, and transmits heat evenly. If the cookware is too thin you’re likely to get hot and cold spots and the rice will not cook evenly. A wide bottomed (12-inch wide) soup pot would also work. And lastly, you need to make sure to use a skillet or pot that has a tight fitting lid. I’m using a 4 quart OXO stainless steel covered deep skillet (affiliate link).
Can you Freeze Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf?
Yes ma’am! This one should freeze very well, so if you have leftovers don’t let them go to waste! Just divide the Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf into single portions, place in freezer-safe reusable food storage containers, cool completely in the refrigerator, then transfer to the freezer. The frozen pilaf should be good for about 3 months. Reheat in the microwave first using the defrost function, then heat through on high.
Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf
- 1 fresh lemon ($0.37)
- 1/2 lb. frozen chopped spinach ($0.79)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked) ($0.66)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin ( $0.03)
- 1 15oz. can chickpeas ($0.55)
- 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth ($0.23)
- 1 oz. feta, crumbled ($0.38)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.02)
- Zest the lemon, set the zest aside, then squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Thaw the spinach in the microwave and then squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet until the onion are soft and translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
- Add the smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, and dry rice to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes to toast the rice and spices. You should hear the rice popping and it should begin to look slightly translucent.
- Drain the chickpeas and add them to the skillet along with the spinach. Add about 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice and the vegetable broth to the skillet, then stir the ingredients to combine.
- Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow it to come to a boil, then immediately turn it down to low or just above low. Let the skillet continue to simmer for 15 minutes, with the lid in place. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit undisturbed for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the skillet with a fork to redistribute the chickpeas and spinach. Sprinkle the lemon zest and crumbled feta over the skillet just before serving.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf – Step by Step Photos
Zest one lemon and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Set the zest and juice aside. Thaw ½ lb. frozen spinach in the microwave, then squeeze out the excess liquid.
Dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to a deep skillet (4 quart) along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are softened.
Add 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp dried oregano, and ¼ tsp cumin to the skillet.
Continue to cook and stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes to toast the rice and spices. You should hear the rice popping and crackling, and it should begin to look a little translucent.
Drain one 15 oz. can of chickpeas, then add them to the skillet along with the spinach, 1.75 cups vegetable broth and 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice.
Stir the contents of the skillet until they are evenly combined. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow it to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to just above low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes (lid in place, no stirring). After simmering for 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, without lifting the lid, for another 5 minutes.
After resting for 5 minutes with no heat, lift the lid. The spinach and chickpeas will have all floated to the top, so use a fork to fluff the rice and redistribute the ingredients.
Finally, top the cooked pilaf with the lemon zest and crumbled feta.
Serve immediately or divide and refrigerate for later.
interesting recipe but not quite right as is. I doubled the spices like the comments suggested, added salt (why no salt?!), and used 5oz of feta instead of one. I also added about 1 tbsp more lemon juice after cooking. the lemon and feta are what give this dish flavor and it needed way more! after that it was a pretty yummy vegetarian dish.
Would you recommend making any changes if I substitute brown rice for white rice?
Yes, brown rice requires more liquid and a longer cooking time, so probably about 2-2.5 cups broth and about 45 minutes cooking time, but I’d need to test that first to verify the amounts. Also keep in mind that since the cooking time is quite a bit longer, the other ingredients may overcook.
Would definitely go with some olives and sundried tomatoes. And salt and pepper……
No salt or pepper?
I made this yesterday. I was sceptical at first, because it sounded quite bland, but figured I had nothing to lose and would just try out. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and still can’t believe how something so simple was so very good! It was actually very flavorful and quick. So easy and great to have staple ingredients on hand. I’ll definitely make this again!
I made this recipe last night. I didn’t have any spinach on hand, so I substituted broccoli and it was fantastic. This will be a staple recipe in my kitchen from now on. Thank you!
I would like to serve this beautiful recipe cold, can I make it a day ahead?
Yes I think it would be a delicious cold dish.