The sunny landscapes and fresh ingredients of the Mediterranean make it one of the healthiest and most delicious cuisines in the world. The herbs, vegetables, beans, grains, fish, and olive oil at the heart of this regional cooking are renowned for their ability to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and promote longevity. In this article, you’ll discover nine sensational Mediterranean recipes that will transport your dinner table straight to the coastline of Greece, Italy, or Morocco. Gather your friends and family to feast on these healthy, hearty, and unforgettable dishes.
1. Baba Ganoush
Baba ganoush is a decadent roasted eggplant dip that is popular across the Mediterranean and Middle East—the smoky and garlicky flavor pairs wonderfully with so many dishes. Try spreading baba ganoush on flatbreads or bruschetta for an instant app. Swirl it into grain bowls or pasta for added richness. You can add it to sandwiches and tacos, too.
Baba ganoush also shines as a unique pizza topping. For parties, set up a veggie bar with baba ganoush and other dips like hummus, muhammara, and labneh. Baba ganoush tastes great with cheese, so add some feta or halloumi. This dip is commonly eaten in Levantine cuisine, but many countries like Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon have their own version. The eggplant can be roasted, smoked, or grilled, depending on tradition. Feel free to tweak the baba ganoush recipe to your tastes with more garlic, herbs, or spices.
2. Greek Salad
This refreshing salad packs the amazing flavors of the Greek islands into one bowl. Slice juicy tomato seeds, chop crunchy cucumbers, and toss them together with crumbled feta, kalamata olives, red onion, and bell pepper. For the dressing, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper. Toss the salad ingredients with the vinaigrette until evenly coated. For extra richness, add chopped nuts or seared chicken breast. This bright, veggie-loaded Greek classic will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.
The smooth, creamy hummus found across the Middle East and Mediterranean makes a nourishing snack or party dip. Simply blend cooked chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil until smooth. Season to taste with cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper. For a twist, stir in roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. Serve hummus with warm pita bread or raw vegetables for dipping. This high-fiber, plant-based spread brims with protein and healthy fats.
These crispy chickpea fritters are a vegetarian staple across the Mediterranean. Falafel makes for a hearty, nutritious, and satisfying meatless meal. The history of falafel dates back centuries to Egypt, where fava beans were used instead of chickpeas. Over time, falafel became a specialty dish in several Mediterranean countries. The tasty falafel sandwich stuffed into warm pitas can be found on street food carts everywhere from Tel Aviv to Istanbul.
Falafel is also popular across North Africa and the Middle East. They can be served as an appetizer or main course. While deep frying is traditional, you can also bake falafel for a healthier take. Experiment with additions like fresh cilantro, jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes, or feta cheese for extra flavor. If you don’t have time to make falafel from scratch, look for high-quality frozen options to save time. You can form falafel ahead of time and keep it chilled for 1-2 days before frying or baking. Serve with all the classic fixings like hummus, tzatziki, tahini, tabbouleh, pickles, and hot sauce.
This Greek savory pie is made with crispy, flaky filo dough wrapped around a creamy spinach and feta filling. To make the filling, wilt spinach on the stove, then squeeze off excess moisture. Mix with crumbled feta, onions, egg and nutmeg. Layer sheets of filo with the spinach mixture and melted butter between each sheet. Fold into a pie shape and bake until golden brown. Let the spanakopita cool slightly before slicing it into pieces. Enjoy this flaky appetizer hot or at room temperature. It also makes excellent party fare.
Indulge in baklava, the iconic honey-soaked dessert pastry from Greece and Turkey. To assemble, brush sheets of filo dough with butter and layer in a pan with chopped nuts and spices. Pour a sugar syrup over the stacked dough and nuts before baking. Once baked and cooled, cut the baklava into small diamond shapes. The crispy, flaky filo soaks up the sweet, sticky syrup for a decadent treat. With its layers of pastry and nuts, baklava is meant to be savored slowly with a strong cup of coffee or tea.
7. Tzatziki Sauce
Cool and creamy tzatziki sauce can top everything from gyros to grilled fish. Simply grate the cucumber and squeeze out excess liquid. Mix with Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill tzatziki sauce before serving to allow flavors to blend. Drizzle this refreshing yogurt-based sauce over grain bowls, kabobs, or pita sandwiches. Tzatziki is especially delicious paired with lamb.
These stuffed grape leaves are a specialty dish across Greece and the Mediterranean. To make dolmas, blanch grape leaves in boiling water for just seconds to soften. Mix ground lamb or beef with rice, onions, herbs, and spices. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each grape leaf. Fold the sides inward, then roll tightly into a cigar shape. Nestle dolmas seam side down in a baking dish and pour in broth or tomato sauce. Bake until heated through, and grape leaves are tender. Enjoy these savory bundles as a light meal or appetizer. The combination of meaty filling and briny grape leaves is outstanding.
9. Mediterranean Grilled Salmon
This simple salmon is flavored with the herbs and olive oil of Mediterranean cuisine. Coat salmon fillets with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side until salmon is opaque and flakes easily. Serve grilled salmon on a bed of arugula salad or roasted vegetables. The bold, fresh flavors of this fish are endlessly versatile. This Mediterranean take on grilled salmon is easy yet elegant.
The Mediterranean diet is universally lauded for its focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This regional cuisine brings people together over simple, nourishing foods that sing with flavor. Whip up these nine crowd-pleasing recipes to share the splendors of Mediterranean eating with your loved ones. From Greek staples to Middle Eastern dips, these dishes will transport you straight to sun-drenched shores. Expand your culinary horizons and embrace good health with the ultimate Mediterranean spread.
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