This Greek Tomato Rice recipe will turn your ordinary grains into a delicious, restaurant-quality Mediterranean dish in minutes using simple wholesome ingredients! Fluffy rice tossed in gyros spice-infused tomato sauce is the perfect vegan and gluten-free side dish for your fried or grilled entrees. I included a simple recipe to make gyros spice at home below!
What is Greek Tomato Rice?
Also called Ntomatorizo by the locals, this hearty dish is a staple in many Greek restaurants and is also enjoyed in many households for lunch or dinner with Gyros, kebab, and Souvlaki. It is a classic Mediterranean side dish made of long-grain rice cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce. It uses gyros seasoning which is a mix of different Mediterranean herbs and spices that gives it a warm, earthy, and slightly spicy flavor. The abundance of tomatoes present in the recipe gives it a deep umami taste.
Greek tomato rice goes perfectly with my bean balls, but I also love to pair it with pulled mushroom gyros, coleslaw and vegan tzatziki to make a vegan kebab or gyro plate. But you can serve the tomatoey rice not only as a side dish, but also as a filling for Greek-style stuffed peppers or stuffed eggplants, which, by the way, are also called Melitzanes Papoutsakia. And don’t forget to serve with fresh salad, vegetables and a squeeze of lemon – it will make any dish much healthier and tastier!
There is no exact recipe to make this Greek spice blend. It differs from one region to the other as well as from household to household. I like making my own so I can enjoy it exactly how I like it! Here’s the list of ingredients and measurements I used for this recipe. Feel free to tweak it to your liking!
- 1.5 Italian herb mix (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary)
- 0.5 tbsp paprika powder
- 0.5 tsp ground cumin
- 0.5 tsp dried coriander
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
To make the gyros spice mix yourself, simply mix all the spices listed above.
- Long grain rice: parboiled basmati or jasmine rice works best for this Greek tomato rice recipe because it cooks up firmly and is fluffy. You can also use brown rice as an alternative.
- Vegetable broth: this will instantly infuse flavor into the rice as it cooks. You can use salted water if you do not have this. It will still taste delicious but it will not be as flavorful.
- Aromatics: you will need onion and cloves of garlic to give the tomato rice a savory base.
- Olive oil
- Tomato paste: this will add tons of savory and umami flavor to the dish!
- Gyros spice: you can use store-bought or make your own!
- Strained tomatoes: you can usually buy these canned in groceries and supermarkets. However, if you have fresh tomatoes ready for picking in your backyard, you can also use them here!
- Agave syrup: or other sweeteners or sugar.
- Salt and pepper: to taste.
- Fresh parsley: for garnishing.
As always, I recommend checking out the recipe video and these step-by-step instructions first. Then you’ll find the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Cook rice and tomato sauce
Start by cooking the rice in vegetable broth or salted water until tender. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce by sautéing onions and garlic. Once fragrant, stir in tomato paste and spices and sauté for a few further seconds to unfold flavors. Add strained tomatoes and agave syrup and cool, covered, for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Combine and enjoy!
Stir in the rice, then taste and adjust seasonings. You can serve the tomato rice just like that on plates or as a ball like in the Greek restaurant. To do this, simply place the rice in a small bowl, press firmly and then invert onto the plate. (Tip: For a better result, grease the dish slightly and make sure that it is cold). Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!
- Make it creamy! If you want a creamier version of this dish, simply add a splash of your favorite non-dairy milk like soy or coconut.
- Add more veggies. Do you have some leftover vegetable cutouts sitting in your chiller? This is the perfect dish to use them then! You can add spinach, carrots, zucchini, peas, green beans, mushrooms olives, celery, edamame, and a lot more.
- Add cinnamon or allspice. A pinch goes a long way toward adding a sweet, citrusy, and woody flavor to the dish.
- Sprinkle some vegan cheese. Crumbled vegan feta cheese or dairy-free parmesan would be great for garnishing too.
- Make it Mexican! Feel free to skip the Gyros spice blend and use Mexican seasonings instead. You can also add beans, corn, and peppers for a flavorful Mexican rice to serve as a side dish or use as a filling for Vegan Burrito Samosas!
- Always follow the package instructions when cooking the rice. The amount of liquid and cooking time varies depending on the type and brand you are using.
- Feel free to use day-old rice. I actually prefer it since the grains are drier and would be easier to cook and will absorb flavor better.
- Use a wooden spatula to scrape the surface of the skillet to get the browned bits of veggies and spices on the bottom. This will make the tomato sauce super flavorful!
- You can reduce or add more gyros spice depending on your preference. You can also omit the cayenne pepper to make it kid-friendly.
I recommend serving this while still hot to enjoy it the most. If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month. Make sure to not leave it in the open for more than 3 hours at most, it will easily spoil because of the tomatoes.
This Greek Tomato Rice recipe is:
- Quick and easy
- Hearty and filling
- Easy to customize
- A delicious side dish
- As good as any you can buy in Greek restaurants!
More Mediterranean Reipes to try:
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Greek Orzo Salad
- Vegan Moussaka
- Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants
- Kumpir with Pulled Jackfruit
- Turkish Gozleme
- Quinoa Bowl
- Chickpea Couscous Salad
- Lentil Bulgur Kofte
- Pide Bread
- Baba Ganoush
- Vegan Feta Cheese
- The Best Tzatziki Sauce
If you try this easy Greek Tomato Rice recipe, feel free to leave me a comment and a star rating on how this recipe tasted! And if you take a photo of your dish and share it on Instagram or Facebook, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I would love to see your result! Enjoy! 😊
Tomato Rice - like at the Greek RestaurantAuthor:
- 1 ½ cups (250 g) dry long-grain rice parboiled
- 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth or salted water
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp gyros spice bought or homemade *see notes
- 1 cup (250 g) strained tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp agave syrup or other syrup or sugar to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh parsley for garnish
*Note: Check out the recipe video + tips + step-by-step instructions above!
- First cook the rice in the vegetable broth or salted water according to package instructions, until tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep pan or pot and sauté the onions for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Next, stir in tomato paste and spices and sauté briefly. Deglaze with strained tomatoes, stir in agave syrup and simmer tomato sauce for 10 minutes with lid on.
- Then stir in the rice. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
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