The fluffiest baked rice with chickpeas and crispy tofu feta… the perfect healthy (but delicious!) dinner. The rice itself is pretty simple. With sweet caramelized onions, chickpeas and green olives, everything bakes in the oven for half an hour. Top it all off with some crispy pan fried tofu feta for some tang, lots of fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Oh, and don’t forget about the flaky sea salt! Vegan, gluten free and easy to make.
How to Make Fluffy Baked Rice with Chickpeas
Up until now, I’ve always been a firm believer in cooking rice on the stove. For brown rice and other grains its a pretty foolproof method once you get the hang of it, but basmati rice is a whole other story. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like every time I cook it over the stove, the grains end up mushing together. I found that baking your basmati in the oven covered by a sheet of tin foil, gives you perfect, fluffy grains every time. Add in some aromatics, herbs, and chickpeas, and you’ve got a pretty fabulous meal.
To make baked rice with chickpeas, start by sautéing an onion in a good amount of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for as long as you’ve got time. I personally like to get some deep caramelization going, so that takes around 20-25 minutes at least. However, if you just want to get it in the oven, cook until the onions are translucent and golden. In goes a little garlic and the chickpeas, where they’ll crisp up a little before baking. At this point, I like to reserve about a 1/2 cup for garnish, but this is up to you.
I’ve found that rice bakes more evenly in a rectangular baking dish as opposed to a large skillet, but if you want to make this a one pot meal, just go ahead and add the rest of the ingredients to your pot. Make sure you have enough room, the edges should be at least 4 inches tall. The rice bakes for about half an hour then comes out of the oven and rests for another 10 minutes. Try not to open the foil for too long or all the steam will escape. While it rests, chops some herbs and a few lemon slices before digging in.
The Best Tofu Feta
This tofu feta might use be the best part of the whole meal. I adapted this recipe from Joe Yonan’s cookbook, Cool Beans. Strongly recommend checking it out. Anyway, the tofu marinates in lemon juice, olive oil, a little apple cider vinegar and miso paste for a little added umami. For maximum tang and flavor, marinate the tofu overnight in the refrigerator and then let it come to room temperature before serving. If you don’t have time, just leave it on the counter for an hour or two and it will still be delicious.
While this tofu feta is great as is, I thought crisping it up in a pan would help add some texture to the rice. This is super easy, there’s already oil in the marinade so no need to add anymore. Since tofu does have a high water content, the oil will sputter and fly everywhere if the heats on too high. Because of this, use a high sided pan if you have it and keep the heat down pretty low. The tofu can’t really get overcooked, so don’t worry if it takes a while to brown. As mentioned before, a pinch of flaky salt right before serving does wonderful things.
Tips for Making Baked Rice
- For extra fluffy rice, make sure you rinse the uncooked grains thoroughly before adding to the dish. Swish it around in a bowl of water and drain. Repeat until the water runs clear (or relatively clear). This gets rid of any excess starch and keep the grains from clumping together.
- If you’re not vegan or don’t like tofu, normal feta would also work here. However, this tofu feta is really quite good and adds a little more protein to the meal.
- The crispy tofu feta is best fresh, so if you know you’re going to have leftovers, leave some of the uncooked tofu in the marinade and crisp it up the next day. You can also just serve it as it, without pan frying.
Want More Healthy Dinner Recipes? Try These!
- Maple tahini twice baked sweet potatoes
- Roasted red pepper meatball curry
- Vegan lemon artichoke flatbread with za’atar
- Blackened salmon citrus bowls