Easy Mediterranean Diet Recipes

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HUMMUS TAHINI

This paste of chickpeas and sesame butter tastes delicious, is packed with protein and fiber, and will make you forget all about butter when topping your favorite bread. It’s a staple in our house and a favorite at parties. Kids love it, too, as a welcome alternative to the peanut-butter-and-jelly rut.

Traditionalists make this with dried chickpeas and soak them overnight. If you have the patience, go for it, but for those of us who want to whip up a quick, spur-of-the-moment bowl of hummus, rinsed chickpeas from a can work just fine. Organic beans and organic tahini taste the best.

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well in a colander

½ cup tahini (sesame paste)

2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled Juice from

½ fresh lemon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. Put hummus into a bowl and sprinkle parsley over the top. Serve with wedges of pita, slices of baguette, or even corn chips! Or spread on bread or even half a bagel and top with fresh spinach for a delicious, nutrient-dense sand-wich.

GREEK SALAD

A traditional Greek salad made with fresh produce and kala-mata olives is a culinary experience not to be missed. What could be more Mediterranean? Served on a platter, it makes an impressive addition to the dinner table. We’ve chosen to leave out the traditional anchovies in this dish, but feel free to add a few anchovy fillets along with the olives if you fancy them. They add a seductively briny tang.

This salad is most transcendent if you purchase the best and freshest, locally grown, organic ingredients (just as they do in the Mediterranean). Savor every bite!

2 cups bite-sized pieces romaine lettuce

2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized wedges

½ cup thinly sliced red onions

½ cup thinly sliced cucumbers (cut them into half- circles if they are too large to be bite-sized)

½ cup thinly sliced green bell peppers ½ cup thinly sliced red bell peppers

1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley ½ cup crumbled good-quality feta cheese

10 pitted kalamata or other good-quality Greek olives

Dressing

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 small clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon minced fresh oregano

(or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed)

Spread the romaine lettuce on a roomy platter. Arrange the tomato wedges over the lettuce. In a bowl, combine the onions, cucumbers, peppers, Italian parsley, and half the feta cheese, then spread over the lettuce and tomatoes. Top with the olives and remaining feta cheese.

To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano, then drizzle over the salad. Toss just be-fore serving.

Serves about 4.

ESPRESSO GRANITA

Sometimes it’s just too hot to drink an espresso, but it’s never too hot for an espresso granita, that sweet icy Italian concoction that is low in fat and high in flavor—perfect for ending a light summer lunch, or as a morning or afternoon refresher when temperatures rise. Granita is like ice cream without the cream, coarser in texture than a sorbet, and satis-fying to crunch. If you are watching your caffeine intake,

use naturally (chemical-free) decaffeinated espresso. It tastes just as good, and no jitters! You can also substitute strong brewed coffee for the espresso, for a coffee granita. (This is a good way to use the rest of that pot nobody drank, but make the granita within an hour after the coffeepot warmer has been turned off.)

½ cup water ½ cup sugar

2 cups espresso

½ teaspoon real vanilla

Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Put water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until boiling, about ten minutes, stirring occa-sionally. Don’t be tempted to speed this up by heating on high, as the sugar can burn. Boil the sugar mixture for 5 minutes without stirring, then remove from heat. Stir once and allow to cool completely.

Combine espresso, sugar syrup, and vanilla in a shallow casserole or baking pan (not aluminum). Put in the freezer. After 30 minutes, remove and stir the crystals around the edges into the middle with a fork. Put back in freezer. Every 30 minutes, remove pan and stir up crystals with a fork. If you forget and wait too long, use the side of a spoon to shave down the larger chunks. When completely frozen (4–6 hours), the granita is done. You can store it for a day or two, covered, in the freezer, but stir it occasionally to keep it from freezing into a hard chunk. When ready to serve, spoon granita into wineglasses or champagne glasses. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 6.

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