Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

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Gourmet but easy to make, these Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls are packed with fiber and protein and are great for weeknight dinners as well as meal prep.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
5 from 15 votes

If you’ve seen my recent healthy vegan meal prep video, you know that the way I meal prep a little differently. I cook and prep different types of ingredients–plant proteins, grains, vegetables, greens, sauces and condiments–and store them separately. Then, I combine them into mix and match meals throughout the week. And today’s recipe for a Mediterranean Grain Bowl is the epitome of this style of cooking.

Not only does this provide more variety in my diet, but it also takes just 0-10 minutes to throw together healthy, delicious meals during the week.

But, in order to earn a blog post, these bowls have to be more interesting than your standard weekday “mix some quinoa with raw veggies and plain lentils” kind of bowl. And they are!

They’re packed with delicious and fresh Mediterranean flavors and are so satisfying. Satisfying from a taste/texture perspective, but also from a nutrient perspective, as they’re loaded with protein and fiber.

Watch! How to make a Mediterranean Grain Bowl

VEGAN PANTRY MEALS perfect for quarantine (+ PDF guide)
VEGAN PANTRY MEALS perfect for quarantine (+ PDF guide)

The grain bowl recipe begins around the 6:21 mark.

Why you’re going to like this recipe

Pantry staples. And all the ingredients used in this recipe are pantry staples (i.e., you might already have all the required ingredients in your pantry).

Budget-friendly. Since these bowls are made with everyday pantry ingredients, they’re very budget-friendly!

Mix and match. While there are four components in the recipe, you don’t have to make them all. You can make just two or three (or even one) of them and pair them with your weekly meals.

Surprisingly easy. While four components might sound like a lot, you can cook everything simultaneously. The pickled onions and hummus take 5-10 minutes to make, and the farro and lentils are pretty hands-off.
Meal prep friendly. As mentioned, all of these items are great for meal prep, and when stored separately, everything should stay good for 4-5 days.

Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

Components of a Mediterranean Grain Bowl

Pickled Onions 

If pickling onions sounds too artisanal or time consuming for you, you’ll be happy to know that these are quick-pickled onions and they take all of 5 minutes. All you need are four basic ingredients: a red onion, apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, maple syrup or sugar, and salt.

I add some flavor with black peppercorns and red pepper flakes for flavor. You can omit them, or get fancy and add more flavorings like coriander seeds, chopped garlic, or fennel seeds!

Hummus

As with pickled vegetables, homemade hummus has gotten a reputation for being complicated and time-consuming. Luckily, it’s not! All you need are a few pantry staples, a food processor, and 5-10 minutes.

While I prefer using dried chickpeas cooked from scratch (and cooking them in my Instant Pot, as in the Restaurant-Style Hummus in my cookbook), canned chickpeas also work perfectly fine in this recipe.

If you want the creamiest, smoothest hummus that’s not grainy, take a few extra minutes to remove the chickpea skins. You don’t have to remove the skins one by one. Just place the chickpeas on a clean dish towel or a few paper towels, cover, and rub gently. You’ll see that many of the skins slip right off.

And if you can’t get all the skins off, it’s not a big deal.

Lentils

Lentils are one of the staples in my diet, so I always have at least a few dried varieties in my pantry. This recipe uses French green lentils, which retain a bite and don’t get mushy. I prefer using them or Black Beluga lentils when I’m making a side dish such as this (as opposed to a soup, dal, stew, curry, etc.) But if you can’t find them, regular green or brown lentils are fine too.

Lentils are best known for being a health food, and they certainly are. But they can also taste really indulgent if you know how to cook and flavor them well.

These lentils get extra flavor from aromatics–cumin seeds and garlic–and being cooked in vegetable broth, instead of water. After cooking, they get hit with more flavor from tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and then creamified from tahini.

Farro

Farro is my favorite grain. I love it’s chewy bite and nutty taste. It does contain gluten, so if you’re gluten-free, substitute with quinoa, millet, or brown rice.

Instead of cooking farro in plain ol’ water, I season the water with salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves. Again, we’re building flavor!

Most store-bought farro is pearled or semi-pearled, and cooks quicker than traditional farro, which can take 45 minutes. Pearled usually takes only 15-20 minutes; semi-pearled 20-30 minutes.

That’s all you need to know about these easy, budget-friendly Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls. If you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

5 from 15 votes
Gourmet but easy to make, these Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls are packed with fiber and protein and are great for weeknight dinners as well as meal prep.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet Vegan
Keyword: grain bowls, lentils, nut-free
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

PICKLED ONIONS (Makes 1 large jar of pickled onions)

    Ingredients

    • 1 medium red onion
    • 3/4 cup (180 mL) water
    • 1/2 cup (120 mL) cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar (or a mixture of both)
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or organic cane sugar)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
    • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns (optional)

    CREAMY MEDITERRANEAN LENTILS (Makes about 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils)

      Ingredients

      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds*
      • 6 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 ⅔ - 2 ¾ cups (640 - 660 mL) vegetable broth
      • 1 cup (180g) French green lentils
      • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
      • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
      • 2 tablespoons tahini
      • 2-3 teaspoons tamari (depends on how salty your vegetable broth is)

      FARRO (Makes about 2 1/2 cups cooked farro)

        Ingredients

        • 1 cup (180g) farro, pearled or semi-pearled (can sub any gluten-free grain, such as quinoa, millet or brown rice)
        • 2 ½ cups (600 mL) water
        • Kosher salt or sea salt
        • 2 bay leaves (optional, for seasoning)
        • Freshly cracked black pepper (optional, for seasoning)
        • 2 garlic cloves, sliced in half (optional, for seasoning)

        CLASSIC HUMMUS (Makes about 1 1/2 cups hummus)

          Ingredients

          • 1 (15-ounce / 440g) can chickpeas, or 1 ¾ cups (260-280g) cooked chickpeas
          • 1/3 cup (75g) tahini
          • 1 medium lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
          • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
          • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground cumin
          • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
          • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
          • 4 - 6 tablespoons ice water
          • For serving: extra virgin olive oil, chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, paprika.

          Instructions

          Pickled Onions Directions

          • Bring the water to a gentle boil, using a kettle or on the stove. Slice the onion very thinly. Place the onion slices in a large mason jar.
          • Mix together the hot water, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns. Stir to combine until the syrup or sugar is dissolved. Pour the pickling liquid over the sliced onions in the jar.
          • Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. You can serve now, but I prefer to refrigerate them for a more developed flavor.

          Creamy Mediterranean Lentils Directions

          • Heat a large, deep nonstick frying pan or a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and cumin seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
          • Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pan, then add the lentils. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender but still al dente.
          • Turn the heat to low and add the tahini and tamari, and stir well into the lentils. Taste for seasonings, and season with salt (as needed) and freshly cracked black pepper.

          Farro Directions

          • Add the water to a medium saucepan, season with salt, and bring to a boil. Add the farro and seasonings, then reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente-- tender yet chewy. For pearled farro, it should take 15-20 minutes; for semi-pearled farro, 20-30 minutes.
          • Once al dente, drain the farro through a sieve and discard the aromatics. If you have the time, spread the farro out on a sheet tray to cool and dry out--this helps prevent it from getting mushy.

          Classic Hummus Directions

          • Add the chickpeas to a food processor and blend for 2 minutes until you have a thick paste-like puree, scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula as needed.
          • Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt. With the motor running, stream in the ice water, a little at a time, until the hummus is thick yet smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings and add more salt, lemon juice, garlic, or cumin as needed. If the hummus is still too thick for your liking, add a tablespoon or two more of ice water.
          • Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Ideally, let it rest for 30 minutes before serving.
          • When ready to serve, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, and paprika.

          Notes

          * If you don’t have cumin seeds, use 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin along with the lentils.

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          25 comments on Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

          1. Elizabeth W.

            5 stars
            I will admit I was hesitant to try this at first since lentils have only recently become a semi-regular part of my diet and I’d never had farro before, but since every other one of Nisha’s recipes I’ve made have been fantastic I figured I would step out of my comfort zone. And it was worth it! The garlic, bay leaves, and pepper gave the farro a really delicate but satisfying flavor, and the lentils were delicious. I went on the lower end of the broth measurement and next time I’ll probably add more, or some water, in order to achieve a creamier effect since my lentils soaked up the majority of the liquid pretty quickly. And the pickled onions were amazing! I’ll definitely be making them more often to have on hand for other dishes. So all in all another keeper from Rainbow Plant Life!

            1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

              That’s so great to hear, Elizabeth! Thank you for the awesome review!

          2. Koty

            5 stars
            I tried this tonight almost exactly as written except I swapped the hummus for non-fat Greek yogurt. It was SO tasty! Thanks for the delicious recipe.

            1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

              Glad you enjoyed the lentil and grain bowl, Koty!

          3. Theresa Glenn-Miles

            5 stars
            Absolutely Delicious!!!!!
            I am never disappointed in your recipes and neither is my husband. We both enjoy your recipes, videos and love your InstaPot cookbook!
            Thank you for another spectacular meal!!!!

            1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

              Thanks, Theresa! We are so happy to provide your family with delicious plant based recipes :)

          4. Sara M

            5 stars
            “Foodskis!” That’s my hubby’s highest praise, and his opinin of this “what the heck am I gonna make for dinner?” dish. He loooves red onions, and he kinda made fun of the jar of pickled onions earlier today, but the onions are what sold him on this dish. We loved the contrasts of the bright, crunch onions, the smoky cuminy creamy lentils and the lemony-garlicky hummus. I ran out of time, so instead of farro I just nuked a packet of Seeds of Change Organic Seven Whole Grains and it was da bomb. This is going on the pantry meal rotation because we always have these ingredients and love the combo of flavor and textures.

          5. María G

            I used quinoa instead of farro. Sooooo good!!

          6. Leyla Lone

            Easy and quick to make. Love this recipe.

          7. sata

            5 stars
            Thank you so much for what you do. You’re ammmaazzing! Your recipes and guidance have changed the way I am able to prepare nutritious meals and eat sustainable foods.

          8. Jen

            5 stars
            Great recipe. I have really missed my favorite Mediterranean restaurant during Covid and this recipe delivers all of those great flavors. The onions add soooo much. I served it all alongside a wadge of arrugula drizzled with lemon (because that’s how I love a good grain bowl).
            I have to say this is now my go-to recipe for hummus. It’s EASY and works every time. Thank you Nisha for another great recipe.

          9. Yj

            5 stars
            I usually do not leave comments but your recipes made me want to change that. I started with your instant pot book (almost everything in there was phenomenal), and now was browsing thru your blog recipes.
            This bowl was such a great flavor explosion and I enjoyed cooking every piece of it.
            Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing these gems with us! 😍

          10. Caitlyn

            5 stars
            So yummy and filling! I used quinoa instead of farro and it turned out great.

          11. Bridget

            Nisha, I first just want to say how much I appreciate you and your recipes. I bought an Instant Pot specifically so I could buy your book! Seriously, your recipes are amazing and I love how you’re so thorough with your recipes. They are easy to adapt and I’m getting a better sense for why certain foods and flavors are paired with each other.
            Now, for this recipe: I am so in love. It has become a staple for me. So so so easy and so full of flavor. I also roast a few vegetables (e.g., sweet potato, red bell pepper, and broccoli) with kebab spices and then use my favorite store-bought hummus to save on time/dishes. So good. I made this for my mom once, who does not like lentils, and she was converted! I also made this for a friend who hates onions, and she now uses this pickled onion recipe! Everyone asks for this recipe whenever they try it. I couldn’t be happier with the flavor and ease of this meal. 10/10 would absolutely recommend this to anyone and everyone!

          12. Lindsey

            No farro on hand, so I subbed for wheat berries and they worked perfectly! This recipe is so delicious, Nisha – your flavors are always on point. I swear, every time I make one of your meals my husband looks at me like I’m a superhero in the kitchen! Thank you for sharing such a tasty dish (and for your wonderful cookbook, which I used to make the wheat berries in the Instant Pot!)

          13. Carolyn

            What could I use instead of tahini? I have a sesame allergy. Thanks!

            1. Eileen Wood

              Are you ok to eat nuts? I would try a nut butter, especially if you roast and grind it yourself

          14. Diane

            This is really delicious. It was a quick meal because I always keep pickled onions in the fridge and had hummus in fridge too. The lentils and farro are seasoned so well. All these flavors together are perfect and so satisfying.

            1. Nisha Vora

              Hi Diane, so happy to hear that you enjoyed this quick and easy meal and thought it was well seasoned! I always have hummus and some kind of pickled veg in my fridge – makes putting together flavorful meals so much easier!

          15. Valentina

            Can you do a different veggie for the pickling? I want to do it with red cabbage. Let me know if that’s possible (like if I can simply swap red onion for red cabbage). Thank you!

            1. Nisha Vora

              Hi Valentina, I think that would work, yes!

          16. Nancy Stein

            OMG this meal is so good! My husband and I had t control ourselves from licking our plates clean! This was amazing and the pickled onions were awesome side for this dish! Thank You Nisha you are an amazing chef. You certainly no how to season a dish!

          17. Christine von der Heide

            I made the grain bowl and it was unbelievable!!! So delicious!! Thank you 🙏 ❤️

          18. Hailey Miller

            Made this for the family tonight, everyone loved it!

            1. Nisha Vora

              Hi Hailey, happy to hear that! Thank you for the feedback :)

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