This Mediterranean rice takes white plain ol’ rice and turns it into something worth writing home about. Cooked in savory stock and loaded with warm, toasted spices, dried fruits and nuts, and notes of sautéed garlic and onion, it’s the perfect testament to the region’s flavorful cuisine.
Easy and Flavorful Mediterranean Rice Recipe
Rice is a pretty universal staple. Italian risotto, Spanish paella, Indian biryani, Macedonian lemon rice, West African jollof. There is so much you can do with this seemingly plain, mild, white grain to turn it into something extraordinary, but this Mediterranean rice is one of my favorites. Infused with a myriad of spices and tons of textures, it delights the senses from the moment you smell it, to the moment you savor that last bite. Warm notes of toasted cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin blend nicely with garlic, onion, and broth. The rice is toasted slightly, giving it a nutty flavor that I just can’t get enough of. Finish it off with toasted slivered almonds for some crunch and pieces of dried apricots and currants for just the perfect hint of sweetness.
If you’ve been stuck on plain and simple white rice cooked in water (maybe stock on a good day), it’s time to break out of your rut. Try this delicious, surprisingly easy-to-make Mediterranean rice dish, and you won’t be sorry that you did.
Why You’ll Love Mediterranean Rice
- Flavors. Between the warmth of the cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric, the subtle sweetness of the dried fruit, and the savory of the stock, onion, and garlic, this tasty side goes so far beyond your typical rice dish.
- Fun textures. I love the crunch that the toasted almonds bring to this yellow rice dish, along with the soft chew of the apricots and currants.
- Visual appeal. The turmeric turns this flavorful rice dish into a deep, earthy orange that is deliciously inviting.
- Health kick. The turmeric also delivers a hefty punch of anti-inflammatory goodness.
Mediterranean Rice Ingredients
- Rice: You’ll need long-grained white rice here. I used jasmine rice, but basmati would work beautifully as well. You could use brown rice instead, just note that it will need more time to cook.
- Olive oil & Butter: For sauteeing the vegetables, seasonings, and rice.
- Onion & Garlic
- Salt & Pepper
- Spices: Turmeric, Cumin, Cinnamon.
- Chicken or vegetable stock
- White wine: You can skip the wine if you’d like and use more stock instead.
- Currants: Raisins would also do the trick.
- Dried Apricots
- Slivered Almonds: You can buy them slivered or just slice your own. I recommend purchasing raw almonds as the recipe has you toast them yourself, but if you’re short on time, go ahead and buy pre-toasted slivered almonds.
How to Make Mediterranean Rice
Here’s a quick rundown of how to make Mediterranean rice. For more thorough instructions, scroll to the recipe card below.
- Rinse the rice. Rinse the rice well under cold water using a fine mesh strainer.
- Sauté the veggies. Season and saute the onions in the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Once translucent, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Toast the spices. Stir the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper into the sauteed veggies and cook for a minute or so, stirring continuously.
- Toast the rice. Add the rinsed rice to the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Deglaze the pan. Pour the white wine into the pan and let it evaporate. Stir in the stock.
- Cook the rice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes.
- Toast the almonds. Toast the almonds over medium heat.
- Put it all together. Fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the currants, dried apricots, and toasted almonds.
Tips & Variations
Flawlessly execute this Mediterranean rice recipe by following these simple tips and tricks. I even threw in some fun variations you can try to personalize to your taste preferences.
- Don’t forget to rinse the rice. Rinsing rice removes excess starch, which can lead the rice to clump and become gummy when cooked.
- Toast your spices. Toasting spices intensifies their taste and aroma and reduces raw, bitter notes, creating a deeply flavorful taste.
- Toast the rice. While you can technically do without it, you shouldn’t skip this step. Toasting the rice adds a nutty flavor to the dish.
- Opt for homemade broth. Consider making your own vegetable or chicken broth. Homemade broth elevates the overall taste of this rice and allows you to control the seasoning.
- Fluff the rice. It’s important to give the rice a nice fluff with a fork once it is done cooking. This will help keep it from clumping.
- Experiment with spices. I used cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon, but feel free to add some paprika for a little spice or even a bit of saffron if you’re feeling fancy.
- Add veggies. Chop up some bell peppers and saute them with the onions and/or throw in some chopped Oven Roasted Asparagus or Sautéed Garlic Broccolini before serving.
- Try different fruits and nuts. Consider using raisins or cranberries in place of currants, or pine nuts instead of almonds.
- Add fresh herbs. I love adding a little fresh parsley (or cilantro, if I’m in the mood) to my Mediterranean rice. The bright color and flavor really take it over the top.
What to Serve with Mediterranean Rice
- Meaty mains. I serve this rice with Moroccan Chicken Tagine, my Macedonian Kebapi (Kebabs) On The Grill, and these Chicken Skewers with Macedonian Taratur Sauce.
- Veggies: This dish goes beautifully with my Mediterranean Baked Feta, these Grilled Vegetables with Halloumi, and/or my Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Dressing and Feta Cheese.
- Salad. Serve Mediterranean rice along with your favorite main and a side salad such as this Green Goddess Salad or serve it as an accompaniment to one of my heartier dinner salads. This Mediterranean Cobb Salad and my Chopped Salmon Salad would be my top picks.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Refrigerator. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature before sealing it in an airtight container. Store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer. Once the rice has cooled completely, seal it in a freezer-safe airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge before reheating.
- To reheat. Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the rice. Saute until heated through. Alternatively, pop your leftovers in the microwave. Heat at 30-second intervals until heated through.
More Mediterranean Recipes To Try
Looking for more unique, flavorful Mediterranean recipes to get you out of your culinary rut? Here are some of my other absolute favorites.
- Stuffed Grape Leaves
- Caponata Recipe
- Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
- Macedonian Fried Pork Pizza
- Macedonian Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)
- 2½ cups white long-grain rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup currants
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ¾ cup slivered almonds
- Rinse the rice. In a fine-sieved mesh strainer or colander, rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
- Sauté the veggies. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the olive oil. Add the onion to the pan, season with salt, and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 15 seconds or until fragrant.
- Toast the spices. Stir the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper into the sauteed veggies and cook for a minute, stirring continuously.
- Toast the rice. Add the rinsed rice to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.
- Deglaze the pan. Pour the white wine into the pan and let it cook for 30 seconds. Stir the stock into the rice, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the rice. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Toast the almonds. While the rice is cooking, add the slivered almonds to a small skillet over medium heat. Let them cook, stirring frequently, until they turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Put it all together. Once the rice is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and fold in the currants, dried apricots, and toasted almonds. Serve.
- White Long Grain Rice: Rinse the rice to prevent clumping and gumminess, and make sure to fluff the cooked rice to avoid clumping.
- Brown Rice: When adapting a white rice recipe for brown rice, you’ll primarily need to adjust the cooking time and the amount of liquid. Brown rice typically takes longer to cook and requires more liquid than white rice. You’ll need to use about 4.5 to 5 cups of chicken broth and cook the brown rice for 40 to 45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- White wine: You can skip the wine and use more broth/stock instead.
- Spices: Play with spices and add what you prefer; I sometimes use paprika or saffron.
- Add veggies like bell peppers or asparagus.
- Fruits & Nuts: Instead of currants, you can also use raisins. Swap out the nuts, too, and try the rice with pine nuts.
- Finish with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro for added flavor.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.