This easy Mediterranean Rice Pilaf is packed with flavors and aromas that will knock the socks off of your taste buds! Featuring raisins, pistachio nuts, and a variety of fresh herbs and spices, it is delicious and fluffy.
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❤️ Why you’ll love it
There are so many ways to make Mediterranean rice pilaf. Its key ingredients usually consist of rice, broth, herbs, and spices, and from the you can dress it up any way you like to acheive the flavor and texture that you want. In this recipe, I use plump juicy raisins, olives, and pistachio nuts to give it some additional texture and a burst of flavor. Check the Variations section below for even more tasty ways to make your rice!
One of the best things about this one-pot dish is that it takes just 15 minutes to prepare, making it an easy dish to throw together as a side dish for dinner, or as a light meal for lunch. Additionally, all of its ingredients are easy finds in your local neighborhood grocery store. You may already have most of them in your kitchen pantry!
🧾 Key ingredients
Rice – I like to use Basmati Rice, which is a go-to for most rice pilaf recipes. You can also use jasmine rice or plain white rice.
Pistachio nuts, raisins, olives, and onion – These ingredients give the rice extra texture. They are a delicious complement to the variety of aromatic herbs and spices in the recipe. You will need to remove the shells from the pistachios and crush them into smaller pieces.
Fresh herbs and spices – Fresh garlic clove, finely chopped cilantro, cumin, and cinnamon give the rice its fragrant and mouthwatering aroma, while the ground turmeric gives it its bright yellow color.
Vegetable broth – Veggie broth adds extra flavor to the rice as it boils. You can also use plain water if you prefer.
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This Mediterranean rice recipe is an easy, one-pot dish that only requires one medium saucepan and a spoon for stirring!
Making Mediterranean rice pilaf
Finely peel and chop the onion and garlic. Next, wash the fresh cilantro, then finely chop it into pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Add the chopped garlic to the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and raisins, stirring well. Cook for one minute.
Stir in the basmati rice and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Lastly, add the veggie broth and season with the salt and black pepper. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Continue to cook for ten more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the rice is cooked, stir in the olives, crushed pistachios, and chopped cilantro, then fluff the rice with a fork. Serve while hot with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, and enjoy!
💡 Expert tip
Before covering the pot to simmer the rice, I recommend gently scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen up any rice grains that may be sticking. Doing so will help prevent the rice from further getting lodged in the bottom of the pan.
You can customize your Mediterranean rice pilaf in many ways to enhance the flavor and suit your personal tastes! Instead of pistachios, try it with toasted pine nuts, crushed walnuts, or slivered almonds. You can also try other dried fruits, such as apricots or cranberries.
Chopped veggies such as bell peppers or my roasted asparagus and mushrooms recipe are also nutritious and crunchy additions to rice pilaf. Or, change up the flavor profile with other herbs and spices such as cardamom, peppercorn, cloves, parsley, or paprika.
🥣 Serving ideas
Middle Eastern rice pilaf is a versatile side dish that goes alongside almost anything. Below are just a few delicious ideas you can try:
- With Greek food – This Mediterranean yellow rice recipe is ideal alongside other Greek inspired dishes, such as my falafel gyros in pita bread to make a complete and filling meal.
- With falafel – If you cater larger groups, serve it alongside a colorful falafel platter, garnished with fresh herbs and a variety of dips like hummus and tzatziki. For a more individualized option, offer a falafel bowl (pictured below), layering the rice pilaf at the base and topping it with crispy falafels, mixed greens, and a drizzle of falafel sauce for a delightful and satisfying meal.
- With veggies – For a light and nutritious meal, serve it alongside a crisp Greek salad topped with vegan feta cheese. Or, serve it as a side dish alongside my grilled vegetable kabobs or Mediterranean grilled eggplant.
❄️ Storing tips
In the refrigerator – Store leftover Mediterranean rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
In the freezer – Store in an airtight, freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating – Reheat in the microwave, over the stove, or in the oven. Before reheating, add a small amount of water to the rice to give it some moisture. Make sure rice is piping hot before serving to kill off any bacteria that may have formed. Never reheat leftover rice more than once.
Long-grain rice, such as basmati and jasmine rice, gives this Mediterranean rice pilaf recipe the best flavor and fluffy texture.
Both green and black olives work for this dish. It really boils down to the taste you prefer. Green olives tend to be more saltier, tangier, and more bitter than black olives.
I have not personally tested this recipe in a rice cooker. However, similar recipes indicate that you can make all of the first steps as written in the rice cooker, then stir in the olives, pistachios, and cilantro once done. I suggest checking for doneness throughout the process to avoid overcooking or burning the rice.
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Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
- Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic. Wash and chop fresh cilantro.
- In a medium-sized pot, heat up olive oil to medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and raisins. Stir well and cook for 1 minute.
- Add basmati rice. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Now add veggie broth. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring it to boil and then reduce to the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Occasionally give it a stir so it does not burn.
- When rice is cooked add olives, crushes pistachios and chopped cilantro. Stir well.