This vegan Mediterranean rice and lentils recipe is made with cooked rice, canned lentils and za’atar seasoning for a quick, easy and flavourful dish that’s perfect for a healthy, flavourful main or side.

Bowl of rice and lentils with spinach and olives.

Recipe Features

  • Dietary Features: Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free, can be oil-free.
  • Nutrition Features: High in protein, high in fiber, low in fat.
  • Great way to use up leftover rice.
  • Quick and easy recipe that’s ready in under 30 minutes with minimal ingredients.
  • Perfect dish for meal prep and pairs will with a protein of choice or can be enjoyed as a main dish or added to salads or wraps.

Ingredient & Substitution Notes

Visual ingredient list for rice and lentils with olives.

Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.

  • Olive Oil: Can be substituted with avocado oil or for an oil-free recipe, water or broth.
  • Bell Pepper: Any colour of bell pepper is suitable.
  • Onion: White or yellow onion works.
  • Spinach: Use fresh spinach or substitute it with kale.
  • Cooked Rice: Any cooked white or brown rice works. I like to use rice that’s been stored in the fridge overnight for the best “fried” rice texture.
  • Lentils: You can use 1 15 oz can of lentils or about 1.5 cups of cooked green or brown lentils.
  • Za’atar Seasoning: Za’atar is a Middle Easter spice mix that includes thyme, oregano, sesame, marjoram, cumin and coriander. It’s readily available online or in well-stoked grocery stores.
  • Sumac: Optional additional seasoning (za’atar already contains sumac so feel free to skip the additional flavouring).
  • Olives: I love kalamata olives here but black olives would also work. If you don’t like olives, you can leave them out.s

Step-by-Step with Photos

Step 1: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until fragrant and softened, about 2-3 minutes.

Onions and bell peppers cooking in a large skillet.

Step 2: Add the chopped spinach, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Spinach, bell peppers and onions cooking in a skillet.

Step 3: Add the cooked rice, lentils and spices, stir well and cook for a few minutes until the rice is heated through.

Quick Tip: After stirring in the rice, spread the mixture evenly in the pan and let it sit for a few minutes without stirring to allow to brown slightly on the bottom.

Rice, lentils, spinach and bell peppers cooking in a skillet.

Step 4: Stir in the kalamata olives. If you don’t like olives, go ahead and skip this step! I like kalamata here but you can also use black olives.

Olives added to a skillet of rice, lentils and vegetables.

Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and enjoy!

Large spoonful of fried rice with lentils and spinach.

FAQs


Can I use red lentils?

You can but I green or brown lentils work a lot better here. Red lentils are mushier when cooked so the final dish with have a different texture. Green and brown lentils hold their shape better so are better suited to a recipe like this.

If you’re looking for red lentil recipes, try my Red Lentil Pasta Sauce, Coconut Red Lentil Dahl or Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry.

What kind of rice should I use?

Any cooked brown or white long-grain rice works. For best results, use cooked rice that’s been stored in the fridge overnight.

What if i can’t find za’atar seasoning?

Za’atar is a super yummy, versatile seasoning you can use so many ways, so definitely take a look for it if you can!

If you can’t find any or don’t have any on hand, you can replace the 2 tsp of za’atar with 1 tsp each dried oregano, thyme, sesame seeds and salt. You could also use 2 tsp of dried mixed herbs and a pinch of salt and lemon.

Bowl of rice and lentils with spinach and olives.

Making Ahead & Storage

  • Can be made up to 5 days in advance so works well for meal prep.
  • Let cool completely before storing
  • Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Not suitable for freezing.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review.

Print
Bowl of rice and lentils with spinach and olives.

Rice and Lentils

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegan

This Mediterranean-inspired fried rice and lentil dish is packed with nutrition and makes the perfect meal prep dish. It’s also full of flavour and easy to make with just a few ingredients!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (15 mL, use water or broth for oil-free)
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup, 150 g)
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped (60 g)
  • 2 ½ cups of cooked long-grain white or brown rice (575 g)
  • 1 15 oz can lentils, rinsed and drained (or 1.5 cups cooked green or brown lentils)
  • 2 tsp za’atar seasoning
  • 1 tsp sumac, optional
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (45 g)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, 
  4. Add the cooked rice, lentils and za’atar, stir to combine and cook until rice is hot, allowing to sit for 2-3 minutes at a time to allow it to brown and crisp.
  5. Stir in the kalamata olives and remove from heat.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

Notes

The fried rice can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days. Not suitable for freezing.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 286
  • Sodium: 273 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 11 g

Keywords: rice and lentils, mediterranean rice and lentils