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Everything You Need For An Amazing Weeknight Mediterranean Bowl (CAVA Copycat)

Chipotle has some solid bowl options, but I really prefer CAVA. It's basically a fresher, Mediterranean chipotle. There are quite a few recipes in this one, so pick the ones that sound good to you. A lot of this can be made ahead of time, so keep that in mind!




Chicken Marinade

1 package of chicken

2 tbsp Olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp harissa

Garlic powder, onion powder

2 garlic cloves

Pickled Red Onion

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Tzatziki

Tomato Salad

Harissa Vinaigrette

Turmeric Rice (in rice cooker)

Marinating the Chicken Thigh: We’ll start by marinating the chicken thigh, an important step that can be easily done in advance. In a container, mix together 2 tbsp harissa, 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 cloves of grated garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, italian herbs, and coriander. Lastly we need a bunch of salt and pepper. Give that a good mix and turn to the chicken. Trim off any extra fat or tendons from the meat and mix it into the marinade. Set this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes if you’re in a rush, but a couple hours is best.


Pickled Red Onions: These are super simple and keep crazy well; they go so well on pretty much anything. Start by slicing half a red onion into a julienne, and if you don’t know how to best do that, check out my primer on cutting onions. Place your sliced onions in a jar and set that aside. Mix together water and red wine vinegar in equal parts, for a regular mason jar, that’s gonna be about 1/2 a cup each. Bring that to a boil with a large pinch of salt and then pour that over the onions. Place the lid on, let it cool at room temp and then set them in the fridge. These need a few hours in the fridge, and it should line up with the chicken marinade. If your tight on time, or just making this on a weeknight, you can totally skip these, just know it would be better with them


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Homemade hummus is a game-changer. Put your pepper under thee broiler to char on all sides. Place that in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the pepper can steam and become tender. After the pepper has cooled enough to handle, remove the top, seeds and wipe off the charred skin with a paper towel. Slice a lemon in half here while you’ve got your cutting board out. Into a food processor, put a can of drained chickpeas, a fourth cup of tahini, the juice of a lemon, the roasted red pepper and a clove of garlic. Let that blitz for a little so everything starts to break down and the chickpeas begin to mix with the tahini. While this is running, drop in 2 icecubes, one at a time to give a little bit more liquid, and to make sure the processor doesn’t heat up. This leads to a fluffy and smooth hummus. Drip in 2 tbsp of olive oil as the blade runs on low, but don’t let this go too long. We want the hummus to be smooth, but the blades can make the olive oil taste real bitter if we’re not careful. Season this with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. This can go in the fridge while we work on the other dishes.


Tangy Tzatziki: Another delicious component of this dish is the tzatziki, a creamy and tangy dip that cools the whole dish off and makes you want to keep coming back bite after bite. Grate two persian cucumbers on the tiny side of a box grater into a clean towel or cheese cloth. Mix a pinch of salt into the grated cucs and squeeze out all the extra water. Place that in your container and grate in 3 cloves of garlic and the juice of half a lemon. Add in 2 cups of plain greek yoghurt and a good glug of olive oil. This really benefits from lots of fresh herbs, so be sure to add in some mint, some dill and some parsley. Don’t go crazy on the mint or dill, and you’re gonna have a really good time. Add in a large pinch of salt and give this a mix. It should be tangy, fresh, and really really tasty.


Tomato Cucumber Salad: This tomato salad is a quick and fresh topping that can easily be used for other dishes as well. The ratio I like to use with this is about 1 part thinly sliced red onion to 2 parts cubed persian cucumber, to 3 parts cherry tomato. Slice your onions into strips and cut those pieces in half so they are much easier to eat (also we have those pickled onions, so we don’t want to completely over onion the dish). Dice your cucumber and season with salt to draw out some water before it goes into the salad. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and season those with salt as well, there will be no bland veggies here. Chop some mint and parsley and those can join the party as well. Mix these together and add a little olive oil, we’re gonna wait to dress this with lemon juice until we’re finishing the dish. With all the spicy tangy goodness going on, it’s nice to have something crunchy and cool to munch on.


Harissa Vinaigrette: Cava has a harissa vinaigrette that you can’t really miss, but the recipes for it online are super split. I took reference from a direct video on the Cave instagram, and I think the results are really close. Mix together 6 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, and 1 tbsp of harissa. We’re gonna season this with cayenne, coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, and dried herbs. If you’re harissa is thicker, you can add a tablespoon of water to thin it out slightly, shake it up before serving and you’re good to go. This may not be an exact copy of it, but it gets real close.


Turmeric Basmati Rice: I’m gonna whip up a bed of rice for all this deliciousness to sit on, and basmati is the go to. Wash your rice and cook it in your rice cooker with a ratio of 1 to 1 rice to water. If you’re doing this on the stove, use like 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water. Add a half teaspoon of turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Let that cook and you’ll have some beautiful fluffy basmati rice. Perfect for sopping up all the juiciness from the chicken.


Speaking of chicken, we can grab the marinaded chicken from the fridge and place a large pan of medium heat. We want to be careful about getting the pan too high because the honey and harissa in the marinade can burn and stick to the pan. We’re gonna go a little lower than usual for chicken, so the marinade has time to cook to a glaze. Once the pan is hot, add in a little cooking oil and drop in your marinaded chicken. Because the heat isn’t crazy high, we don’t need to worry about getting all the color right away. Flip this a couple of times as it cooks to sop up all the glaze forming in the pan. These thighs need about 10 -15 minutes to get all the color they need and to remain super juicy. Thigh is great for cooking like this because the meat won’t overcook anytime soon. Monitor the heat and if the harissa is looking like it’s gonna burn, turn it down a little. Remove it from the pan to rest, and pour on the juicy glaze that’s in the pan. As the chicken cools, we can toast some pita in a pan with a little olive oil. Get these nice and crispy then season them with smoked paprika and salt. These can be used to top our bowls, or just to dip into the hummus/ tzatziki, we’ve got some options here. Cut your chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and we're good to assemble.


Assembling Your Mediterranean Bowl: To build these bowls, lay down a generous portion of rice and go item by item. Top with some of the tomato cucumber salad, some chicken, a scoop of hummus, a drizzle of tzatziki, a few pickled onions, the toasted pita, the vinaigrette, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese. If you’ve got some spring mix or spinach on hand, that can go in the mix as well. This bowl hits every single delicious flavor note possible, and with a bit of pre prep (or skipping some of the parts) it’s a perfect weeknight meal. You could easily make the chicken, the rice, and the vinaigrette than top with any many of ingredients you’ve got lying around. Take it from me, this is what you want to be eating on a Thursday night. Every bite is a lesson in brightness, acidity, and salt. This also leaves you with enough leftover and makes for a perfect day 2 lunch.

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Hey, I'm Cameron, and I'm glad you're here. I post new recipes every week, all intended to build your confidence in the kitchen, each one with video tutorials to help. Craving something specific? Drop me a note in my contact form! 

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