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Overhead photo of garlic zucchini rice with oregano and chives and a green napkin.
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5 from 7 votes

Garlicky Zucchini Rice

This Garlicky Zucchini Rice needs just four ingredients -- garlic, oregano, rice and zucchini--and it has so much flavor. It's the perfect side with any saucy dish!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Standing time15 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course/Rice
Cuisine: Fusion
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Zucchini Rice
Servings: 8
Calories: 160kcal



  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced or crushed using a garlic press)
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1.25 pounds. You can also use yellow squash)
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (I used fresh. If using dry use 1-2 teaspoons as the flavor is more concentrated)
  • 1.5 cups basmati rice (or any long-grain rice. See notes for how to cook with brown rice or quinoa)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • Grate the zucchini using a grater or a food processor. Use the smallest to medium sized holes on the grater. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan or saute pan. Add the olive oil with the garlic and saute for a minute or two as the oil heats up and the garlic begins to turn lightly blonde.
  • Add the oregano and mix a few more seconds so the flavor infuses through the oil.
  • Stir in the zucchini and saute for a couple of minutes until it expresses its juices.
  • Now add in the rice. You don't need to soak it, dry rice is fine. Saute the rice for a couple of minutes until the grains begin to turn opaque.
  • Add 3 cups of water and add salt and ground black pepper to taste. As always taste the water after stirring it in and make sure it's slightly saltier than you want your final dish to be.
  • Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, then turn down the heat to the lowest point on your largest burner, and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  • Open the pot, stir the rice one last time very gently so as to not break the grains, then cover again and cook, undisturbed, for 10 minutes more. Don't peek during this time and don't stir the rice again.
  • Turn off the heat but don't open the pot--let it stand 10 minutes more so the rice can continue to steam.
  • Fluff the grains of rice with a fork before serving. Serve hot.


  • Substitutions and additions: Snip a few garlic chives or regular onion chives into the finished dish for a garnish and more fresh flavor.
  • Stir in the zest of a lemon into the zucchini and rice before adding the water for a pop of citrusy freshness.
  • Stir in a quarter cup of vegan cashew parmesan for a rich, cheesy flavor to the zucchini rice. Add it after cooking is done and you've let the rice stand for at least 10 minutes. This would be a wonderful side with an Italian dish like my vegan eggplant parmesan.
  • Use another herb like mint, basil, sage or thyme instead of the oregano for a different flavor.
  • To give this rice an Indian touch use vegetable oil instead of olive oil and saute three green cardamoms, three cloves and a teaspoon of cumin until they are a shade darker. Then add the zucchini and proceed with cooking the rice. Use mint or cilantro instead of oregano and add them in after cooking and resting the rice.
  • For a middle eastern flavor stir in za'atar instead of oregano.
  • Using brown rice or quinoa: To make this with brown rice add the rice to the pot right after you saute the garlic and oregano. Don't add the zucchini at this time. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add 4.5 cups water and cook the rice, undisturbed, for 35 minutes. After 30 minutes stir in the zucchini, then cover again and cook 15 more minutes or until the rice is done.
  • To make this with quinoa, rinse the quinoa and then proceed exactly as you would when making the recipe with white rice. Add less water: 2 ½ cups. 
  • Storage, freezing and reheating: Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.
  • To freeze the zucchini rice for longer storage, first spread it out on a baking sheet and let as much moisture as possible evaporate. Then place the rice in airtight containers or freezer bags and store for up to three months.
  • To reheat the zucchini rice place the frozen rice in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a microwave-safe lid or cling wrap and zap for 2-3 minutes on high or until the rice is soft and becomes fluffy again when teased with a fork.


Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Potassium: 249mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg