Mediterranean Grain Bowls | These vegetarian Mediterranean grain bowls are delicious, crisp, savory and belly filling. The best part is that you can customize your bowl and meal prep the ingredients. Toss in your favorite grains, vegetables, greens and proteins and top them all with a savory lemon tahini herb dressing.
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These Mediterranean Grain Bowls are the perfect, easy to put together hearty and healthy weeknight meal. Make these delicious nourish bowls for breakfast, lunch or dinner - just follow my easy tips on how to build a good grain bowl.
What goes in a grain bowl?
Grain bowls are made up of a variety of ingredients. Choose one or two ingredients from the following categories to build your grain bowl:
The grain is the base to the bowl, it can help determine your flavor profile as well. With basmati rice, you might try an Indian flavored grain bowl. Jasmine rice would be a great base for a Thai grain bowl. Couscous and Quinoa are perfect for Mediterranean flavors.
Whatever you choose, cook the ingredient with flavor. For rice, quinoa or couscous consider using broth/stock when cooking them instead of water.
Protein helps round out the nutritional values of your bowl. There are so many options for protein choice here as well as flavors. Think chicken, beef, salmon or shrimp for meat-eaters.
Try tofu, chickpeas, cooked beans or pulses or veggie balls for a vegetarian grain bowl like this Mediterranean grain bowl.
I put this in its own category instead of with the other vegetables, because I think the inclusion is important. Green foods are good for you and I like to include them wherever I can. I think a grain bowl benefits from something lighter but nutritionally dense, like spinach, kale or arugula to give your palette and digestion a bit of a break.
Choose just one green if you like or mix up a soft butter or bibb lettuce with something with a crunch like romaine lettuce.
Add just a handful or two to each bowl, being careful not to enter salad territory.
The sky - or garden - is the limit here! Add your favorite veggies - raw, roasted or steamed.
Ribbons of raw carrot and slices of cucumber give a bright crunch.
Roasted potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets and brussels sprouts all add a savory warmth.
Steamed broccoli or cauliflower are perfect for grain bowls and quick to meal prep.
Grain bowls need toppings, ok? I said what I said. Garnish your grain bowl, your senses will thank you.
Often a grain bowl is full of ingredients on the softer side, so I think the garnish is where texture can really bring a lot to the plate. Or, uh bowl.
Think feta cheese, ricotta or avocado slices for something creamy. Go for nuts, seeds, crispy chickpeas, pickled red onions for something with spirit and crunch. Sprinkle on fresh herbs or a mound of microgreens for something fresh.
Use a mandoline for thinly sliced radish. Add prepared furikake or simply cut a sheet of nori into strips and sprinkle on sesame seeds.
There are so. many. options. Picking them out is half the fun.
Ok here we go, this is the moment every grain bowl waits for - the dressing!
The dressing touches everything in the grain bowl, like a little flavor hug.
Tips for making grain bowls
- Use a variety of textures
- Use a balance of complimentary flavors, such a sweet, sour, salty/umami, spicy and bitter.
- Serve your grains warm so they soak up the flavor of the dressing.
- Make a nutritionally well rounded bowl by including ingredients that contain protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and fiber.
Keep in mind that a satisfying grain bowl includes a variety of flavors, like sweet, salty, spicy and also a variety of textures.
Eating a whole bowl of something with the same soft texture can get boring. Including different textures will further your enjoyment.
For example, in this bowl, we have the spinach and arugula - the spinach has a soft but snappy bite to it while the arugula is peppery and soft but not exactly tender.
The couscous is soft but the chickpeas are crispy and crunchy. The lentil balls are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
For garnishes, the artichokes are soft, the olives have a bouncy chew and the red onions have a slight pleasing crisp to them.
For flavors, the lentil balls are kind of sweet and savory, the dressing is savory and herby while the tahini itself is slightly bitter, the onions have a pickled tang to them and the roasted potatoes have a savory olive oil and mustard flavor.
When you make a grain bowl just remember to choose ingredients that you like and keep in mind what kind of texture and flavor they have. A well balanced bowl will have a good mix.
Textures in a grain bowl:
- Soft: rice or other grains, potatoes, veggie balls, olives, steamed or roasted vegetables
- Crisp: greens, pickled red onions, sliced raw carrot, cucumber or radish
- Crunchy: fried chickpeas, nuts, seeds
- Creamy: dressing, soft cheese, pesto, artichokes, avocado, a poached egg
Flavors in a grain bowl:
- Sweet: Sweet potatoes, dressings with honey or peanut butter, caramelized onions
- Savory/Salty/Umami: Dressing, veggie balls, potatoes, roasted vegetables, nori, nuts
- Sour: Pickled red onions, lemon
- Tangy/bitter: Pickled red onions, olives, tahini
- Spicy: Sriracha drizzle, other hot sauce, a spiced dressing, spicy roasted potatoes or sliced jalapenos.
Try my Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowl for another delicious and filling bowl.
About the ingredients for this recipe. See the recipe card below for exact amounts.
- Roasted Potatoes – I often have roasted sweet potatoes or potatoes in the fridge for use in nourish bowls. For these roasted potatoes, I coated them in extra virgin olive oil and a grainy mustard and roasted them until crispy.
- Greens - I always include greens in my grain bowls and here I've chose spinach and arugula. Use your favorite greens.
- Green Lentil Balls - I use my baked veggie balls for this recipe. They're easy to make and meal prep and the flavor goes well. Use your favorite veggie balls. My chickpea patties would be good in this bowl also.
- Chickpeas - The crispy chickpeas contribute protein and also a nice contrasting texture of crisp and crunch.
- Couscous - Couscous is easy to prepare, just combine couscous and hot water or stock in a 1:1 ratio, stir and pop a lid on to wait 5 minutes. Fluff and serve. I like to serve the couscous warm in this bowl. Try my 10 minute Pesto Couscous recipe.
- Pickled red onions, black olives, artichokes - I use these Mediterranean inspired ingredients to garnish my bowl and add tons of flavor.
- Lemon Herb Tahini Dressing - A creamy tahini based dressing is my favorite for this bowl, I think it goes with all of the ingredients and brings it all together. Plus, I love tahini. You could also use my Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette or your favorite dressing. Hummus and Toum would also be good in this bowl instead of a dressing or in addition.
- Cucumber - The sliced cucumber brings a needed fresh crunch to the bowl.
- Prep the potatoes by peeling and cubing them, and then roasting at 400°F (200°C) for 35-45 minutes.
- Heat your choice of veggie balls.
- Make pickled red onions.
- Slice cucumbers.
- Make a dressing.
Once the above ingredients are prepared or are things you already have on hand, you can make the rest of the ingredients for the grain bowl. Remember you can definitely use what you have on hand.
To make the couscous:
- Combine 1 cup of couscous with 1 cup of boiled water or stock in a large bowl.
- Add half a teaspoon of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and stir.
- Add a lid and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and serve.
Make the crispy chickpeas:
- Heat a large skillet over medium high and add oil.
- Add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper.
- Fry the chickpeas, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Optionally, add any spices you'd like at this time and cook for another minute or so. Set the chickpeas aside.
Assemble the bowl:
To each bowl add:
- a handful of greens
- 3-5 veggie balls
- roasted potatoes
- ⅓ cup cooked couscous
- cucumbers, pickled red onions, olives, artichokes
- crispy chickpeas
RECIPE TIP: Prep all of the ingredients for the grain bowl and store in the fridge separately and then make grain bowls throughout the week for a quick and hearty lunch or dinner.
✔ This grain bowl is vegetarian.
✔ To make this grain bowl vegan, use a different dressing.
Use your favorite veggie balls or meatballs if you're not keeping it vegan or vegetarian.
I use my favorite large frying pan to crisp up the chickpeas.
Store leftover ingredients separately in the fridge for 4-5 days. The greens can get soggy if store with other ingredients.
The dressing will last a week or two in the fridge, and the pickled red onions last a few weeks stored in the fridge.
Tips + FAQs
You can eat grain bowls either hot or cold. If you're using greens, it's best to heat the other ingredients separately and add the fresh greens after so they don't wilt.
Individual ingredients for grain bowls can be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. Dressings and pickled vegetables will last longer in the fridge. Once all ingredients are prepped and stored in the fridge just assemble grain bowls as needed, heating up any ingredient you want warmed before adding to your bowl.
Recipes to use in grain bowls
- Baked Veggie Balls
- Pesto Couscous
- Roasted Potatoes
- Vegan Oregano Pesto
- Lemon Herb Tahini Dressing
- Balsamic Dressing
- Pickled Red Onions
- Chickpea Salad
- Pearl Couscous Salad
- Roasted Broccoli and Carrots
- Chickpea Patties
- Avocado Cilantro Lime Hummus
Mediterranean Grain Bowls
For the bowl
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup arugula
- ⅓ cup prepared Couscous
- ⅓ cup roasted potatoes
- 3 lentil balls
- 5 black olives
- ½ cup crispy chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons artichoke hearts in oil
- 1 tablespoon pickled red onions
- cucumber slices
For the dressing
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
- ½ sprig fresh rosemary leaves
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- ½ cup cold water (more or less, as needed)
- Make the potatoes: Toss peeled and cubed potatoes in a few tablespoons of oil and a tablespoon of dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 35-45 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Make the couscous: Add 1 cup couscous to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix in ½ teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup of boiling water, stir once with a fork and add a lid. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
- Make the chickpeas: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Add the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until crispy.
- Make the dressing: Add all ingredients for the dressing, except the water, to a mini processor or blender and blend until well combined. Add water as needed to thin it out. It'll thicken up first because of the tahini and water clashing but it's fine, it's normal, just keep adding water until it emulsifies and thins out to your preference.
- Prep: Warm veggie balls of your choice, and slice cucumber.
- Assemble the bowl: Add greens, lentil balls, ⅓ cup of couscous, ⅓ cup of potatoes, ½ cup crispy chickpeas, ccucumber, artichokes, olives, and pickled red onions. Drizzle on dressing and serve.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.Read our full Nutrition Disclaimer.
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