Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf

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.

One Pot Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf with Lemon and Feta

Close up overhead view of a skillet full of Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf with a wooden spoon and bowl of feta on the side.

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 scooped out of the skillet and into a bowl. A small bowl of feta on the side.

 
Skillet full of Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf next to a cut lemon and small dish of feta, on a blue background
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4.67 from 36 votes

Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf

This Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf is infused with herbs and bright pops of lemon and feta. Cooks in one skillet for easy cleanup!
Total Cost: $3.98 recipe / $1.00 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 4 1.25 cups each

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cupsCalories: 268.6kcalCarbohydrates: 41.4gProtein: 8.5gFat: 8.2gSodium: 554.5mgFiber: 5.3g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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How to Make Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf – Step by Step Photos

Lemon zested and juice squeezed

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.

Diced onion and Minced garlic in the skillet with olive oil

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.

Rice and spices added to the skillet

Add 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp dried oregano, and ¼ tsp cumin to the skillet.

Cooked rice and spices in 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.

Chickpeas, spinach, broth, and lemon juice added to the skillet

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.

Skillet contents stirred to combine

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.

Cooked pilaf, before fluffing

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.

Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf topped with lemon and feta

Finally, top the cooked pilaf with the lemon zest and crumbled feta. 

Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf being served into a bowl from the skillet

Serve immediately or divide and refrigerate for later.

Spinach and Chickpea Rice Pilaf - BudgetBytes.com