These rice bowls are inspired by my favorite restaurant CAVA, bursting with exotic, fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors you are going crave! I guarantee they are going to become a lunch and dinner favorite AND they are fabulous for meal prep! These rice bowls are loaded with your choice of Greek chicken or chicken shawarma (or go vegetarian), rice, lettuce, roasted veggies then piled high with your choice of toppings such has pickled red onions, cucumber salad, feta, almonds, avocados and hummus, all drizzled with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. The combination is nothing short of mesmerizing. I can’t wait for you to fall in love with these rice bowls too!
Marinate chicken if required according to recipe directions. Meanwhile, make pickled red onions if using. You can cook the chicken while roasting the veggies or anytime before that and refrigerate. See Notes if making 10 Minute Greek Chicken.
Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
Make the yogurt sauce and prep your toppings while the chicken is marinating. Add all of the Sauce Ingredients to a food processor and blend until the herbs are chopped, scraping down the sides as needed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve (or chop and combine by hand).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large jelly roll pan (15 x 21) with foil and spray with cooking spray. Add cauliflower and chickpeas and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Move to one side of the pan.
Add sweet potatoes to the other side of the pan. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Spread vegetables into a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, combine cucumbers and tomatoes in a bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
Layer the bowls with cooked rice, lettuce, roasted vegetables, and chicken followed by the desired amount of the toppings. Drizzle with yogurt sauce. Dig in!
10 Minute Greek Chicken
2 ½ cups shredded chicken (I like rotisserie)
1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, dried oregano
1/4 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
Whisk together all of the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings if desired (I like more oregano).
Tips and Tricks
Prep ahead: every single component of the rice bowls can be prepped ahead which will make "go time" quick and easy. The pickled red onions keep for up to 3 weeks!
Don’t skip the sauce! The yogurt sauce is a key component in this rice bowl recipe for flavor and texture. Its creamy consistency is needed to marry all of the ingredients together and its refreshing tanginess cuts through the earthy flavors of the chicken and roasted veggies. If someone in your household has an aversion to cilantro, add additional parsley or mint instead.
Customize rice bowl ingredients: other than the sauce, the ingredients and measurements are simply suggestions. You can use add/swap any ingredients for your favs. See the post for variation ideas.
Low-carb rice bowls: replace the rice with cauliflower rice or swap the rice for more greens.
Vegetarian rice bowls: omit the chicken and double the chickpeas for added protein if you’d like.
Rice: use your favorite rice – brown rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, cauliflower rice or even quinoa and lentils. I suggest keeping the rice flavor profile simple, seasoning with just salt and pepper because the rest of the bowl ingredients are so flavorful. 90-second microwavable rice packets are great for individual rice bowls.
Chicken: can be warmed or served cold if making ahead. I like to warm it up just so it’s room temperature to take the chill off.
Chickpeas: if you want crispier chickpeas, roast them for 10 additional minutes after you roast all the veggies together (remove other veggies first).
Pickled red onions: even if you don’t think you love pickled red onions, I highly suggest you try them; they’re bright, tangy with a slight sweetness and subtle crunch and are a highlight in these rice bowls!
Harissa: spice up the rice bowls with harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste.
How to Store and reheat
Make ahead: One of my favorite aspects of this rice bowl recipe is that EVERYTHING can be made ahead. Simply store the ingredients in separate containers until ready to serve. Then reheat per instructions.
Storage: Rice bowls will last approximately 3-5 days in the refrigerator. The cooked/warm components can be stored together (chicken, roasted vegetables, rice, and chickpeas) and will allow you to heat them in the microwave without heating the fresh components. I suggest storing the fresh/cold components in separate containers (veggies and yogurt sauce).
Reheat: The cooked ingredients are typically served more room temperature than hot, so heat the cooked components for just 60 seconds or so to take the chill off, or longer if desired. Then, top with fresh toppings and yogurt sauce.
how to Meal Prep Rice bowls
Rice bowls make excellent meal prep if you want to prep them ahead of time for convenient, on the go lunches. You can completely assembly the bowls with cooked and fresh ingredients together and microwave for just 30 seconds to take the chill off for room temperature rice bowls or store the cooked and cold ingredients separate. Here’s how to meal prep for the latter:
Divide rice between 4 containers.
Top with chicken, roasted vegetables and chickpeas. Don’t close containers until everything has cooled to room temperature.
The following cold toppings can be stored together layered in this order: pickled red onions, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, radishes, almonds, feta. The lettuce and cilantro yogurt sauce should be stored in separate containers.
When ready to eat, warm the chicken, rice and roasted vegetables, then top with remaining ingredients.