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Mediterranean Skillet Chicken and Rice Recipe

Photography by Victoria Wall Harris

This is probably my favorite weeknight chicken dish.  I love rice.  I love Mediterranean flavors. Sometimes I eat a couple bites of the chicken, sometimes I do chickpeas instead.  It’s fast, easy and super tasty.  I recently taught this recipe live on a zoom class and I cooked it in real time with all the participants.  It was a huge hit!

You can even prep many of the components in advance.  You can season the chicken in the morning if you want.  Dice the vegetables early, as well.  In fact, and I don’t say this often, this dish reheats really well and even freezes well if you have too much.

Another option if you happen to be following my “no grocery shopping January” is to stretch out leftovers by cutting everything into bite size pieces and adding enough stock to create a soup.  Warm through and you have an easy, delicious meal!  I do this all the time with casseroles and leftover grains, legumes, poultry and vegetables.

If you have my book Quicker Than Quick, you might recognize the “formula” here, which I used in the Weeknight Arroz con Pollo recipe.  I point that out in case some of you feel comfortable going off script.  You can take a formula recipe and adjust the seasonings and veggies to create something totally different!

And of course, you can take this recipe and make it vegan (check the notes at the bottom of the recipe); make it with seafood (you would add shrimp or cubes of fish in the last minutes instead of at the beginning); sprinkle feta or toasted pine nuts over the whole thing; use a different grain with the same/similar cook time like quinoa.

The best part about this is that it’s a one-pan meal.  Sure, extra veggies on the side are ideal.  I’d serve sauteed greens, a fresh salad, garlicky broccolini, or grilled eggplant, depending on what’s in season.

Let me know if you make this or any of my recipes by tagging me @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman.  Every time I see your beautiful creations, it just makes my day!  Sending you peace, love and all good things!  xo

5.0 from 4 reviews
Mediterranean Skillet Chicken and Rice
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano or za’atar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground sumac or finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken pieces (breasts and/or thighs), patted dry and cut into 2-inch pieces (thighs can be cut in half or left whole if small)
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined oil of choice – olive or avocado
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large fresh tomato, diced or 1 cup of whole cherry tomatoes, or ¾ cup chopped jarred tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups long-grain white rice (Trader Joe's organic white basmati rice is my favorite)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, vegetable stock or water*
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • (optional) chopped fresh parsley and/or dill (I prefer dill)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic powder, oregano, cumin, sumac, coriander, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt (if using unsalted stock), and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat well. (This can be done a day in advance, if desired.)
  2. In a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces in one layer and brown on two sides, about 2-3 minutes each side. Do not cook through and do not brown too much. Transfer the chicken back to the bowl (it doesn’t matter that this had raw chicken in it since the chicken still has to be cooked again.)
  3. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan and raise the heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze and remove the bits stuck to the bottom. (If using cherry tomatoes, add with the next ingredients.)
  5. Add the rice, stock, and olives and bring the liquid up to a boil. Arrange the chicken pieces on top. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Garnish with herbs (if using) and serve immediately or allow the dish to sit off the heat, covered, for 10 minutes.
Notes
*If using unsalted stock or water, use 1 teaspoon salt in step 1 and 1 ½ teaspoons salt in step 3.
If you don't eat chicken, swap a pound (or so) of COOKED chickpeas or white beans. Start the recipe with sauteing the onion and add the spices with the garlic. Add the beans with the rice. Same cook time.
If you need more chicken, multiply chicken and spices times 1.5. Same cook time.
Do not use a skillet that is too large or the rice will not cook properly.
I have found that some white rice brands take longer to cook - like Whole Foods. You may need to cook for an extra five minutes and allow to sit off the heat COVERED until the tenderness is perfect. Trader Joe's organic white basmati rice is my preferred rice. You can also use quinoa. Reduce water by a little.

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Comments

26 Comments

  1. All recipes should be like this one!
    It’s easy, adaptable, everyone loves it, and great for leftovers. I’ve made it all the different ways mentioned with what I had one hand and have loved it every time! This past winter I put bite sized leftovers in broth with lemon juice and made a yummy Mediterranean soup.
    And I was just reminded to write a review because yesterday I just used the marinade for chicken breast to grill with summer veggies from the garden. It’s become a staple that I’ve used all year in many different ways! Thanks!

    • That’s fantastic! I love how you’ve taken this recipe and have used it in different ways. Thank you for sharing, Stephanie!

  2. Hi! Think I’m going to make this for Passover.
    Should I use our 13” double handled staub or is it not deep enough b/c of rice
    Thank you

    • The 13-inch may be too large for this recipe unless you are planning on making it times 1-1/2. Do you have have something closer to 10 inches?

  3. Great. Added roasted red peppers. Topped with Feta. Delicious

    • Yum! Those are great additions.

  4. This was great! Everyone in the family ate happily! And quick and easy! Thank you!

    • I’m happy to hear that!

  5. Could I use brown rice?

    • Sure! Keep in mind brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. I would add all the ingredients to the rice, except for the chicken to give the brown rice a head start. Add the chicken pieces to the pan about 20 minutes before the rice is done.

  6. Hi! If I was going to sub tofu for chicken, how much should I use and when should I add it in?

    • Feel free to use the amount of tofu you like. You can start with 1 (12-15 ounce) package. If you prefer the tofu to be crispy, I would add the tofu when the rice has finished cooking. Otherwise, add it to the pan when the liquid comes to a boil and cook it together, but it will turn out really soft. Below are two options for preparing crispy tofu.

      1. Pat tofu dry. Fry the tofu in the skillet with oil, until crispy. Set aside and stir it in at the end when the rice has finished cooking. Add the chicken spice mixture (omit the tsp of salt) to the onions after step 3.
      2. Pat tofu dry. Cut into cubes and toss with 1 Tablespoon oil, 1 T soy sauce, 1 T arrowroot and the seasonings you would use on the chicken (omit the tsp of salt). Bake in 400 F oven for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. Stir tofu in the skillet when the rice has finished cooking.

  7. Just made. Sunday – early dinner/late lunch. Everyone loved it! (Did the rice on the side.). Will definitely make again. Thanks!!!

    • Nice! Thank you, Kerry.

  8. This was delish! Made it tonight for my two teenage boys and hubby–it was a hit! I used parsley and toasted pine nuts as a garnish and I highly recommend! Thanks for such a great recipe! Next up: arroz con pollo!

    • Great idea! I’m sure they are going to love the arroz con pollo.

  9. 10 Stars!! Thank you for sharing this FANTASTIC recipe. It was quicker than quick. I used thighs and topped the dish with dill and feta. My husband and teenage boys loved it. I used 1 cup rice rather than 1 1/2 cups. I think the rice to chicken ratio was great for us with 1Cup. This will be a regular.

    • Wonderful adaptations! Love the idea of adding feta to this dish.

  10. In your notes you mentioned using COOKED chickpeas. If they aren’t coming right from the can, then how are they prepared before they are sauteed in the pan with the seasonings?

  11. I feel ignorant. Why a straight sided skillet ?

    • I’m sorry. The recipe should say “saute pan” to avoid confusion. A saute pan works best for this recipe because it has straight, vertical sides as opposed to the curved sides in a regular skillet. The taller sides will allow the pan to hold more food since the rice will expand when finished cooking.

  12. Hi Pamela,
    Love the idea of one pan chicken/ rice dish. If I didn’t want to use olives in Med Chicken or olives/ capers in Weeknight Arrozo , do you think artichoke hearts would work?
    Thank you,
    Karen

    • Totally! I think it would be delicious with artichoke hearts. If you love the flavor of them, add them when you add the rice and stock so the artichoke flavor infuses the dish. Otherwise, stir them in at the very end to warm through.

      • Great! Thank you!

        On another note…I’m about to purchase a couple pans. I’ve been using my Greenpan ( I know I know. Thought they were safe) to cook eggs and quick sautés of blanched veggies. My son who’s getting into cooking after being on a gap year program. All the kids had to take turns cooking for the group of 15 which including a vegan. a vegetarian, celiac and lactose intolerant!! Talk about cooking bootcamp right?! We watched your Youtube video on cooking eggs in stainless steel. My son immediately tried it. Pamela…what?? I have been cooking for ever and had no idea it could be done. That said…I getting rid of the Greenpans but need a few new pans to replace the 8″and 10″ pans. I already have 12″ in stainless, cast iron an enamel cast iron. What would you replace the 8 and 10″ and why. What do you mostly use your cast iron for that you wouldn’t use the enamel cast iron or stainless for? Threw a lot at you:) Thank you!

        • Amazing! Have you read my blogpost on cookware 101? https://pamelasalzman.com/cookware-101/ This may help you decide which option is best for you. I have 8″ and 10″ stainless steel skillets and 10″ enamel cast iron. I love both of them!


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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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