Encompassing southern France, Spain, Italy, and Greece, the Mediterranean reads like a who’s who of European countries with great cuisine. With the likes of Turkey and Israel in the Middle East and the North African countries of Algeria and Morocco, it’s safe to say that Mediterranean food is incredibly varied and, therefore, incredibly exciting.
Centered around the Mediterranean sea and with a mostly temperate climate that’s reliable and ideal for growing vegetables and grains, this special part of the world has some seriously good food to its name.
Olive oil, bread, and wine feature heavily in many Mediterranean dishes, along with vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and tomato. Seafood scooped up fresh out of the sea is also part of their cuisine along with meats like lamb and chicken.
So healthy and well regarded, the Mediterranean diet has been studied for decades and is a proven means of losing weight, living longer, and feeling good about the food that you eat. Eating well, not just on occasion, but at every meal of the day is woven into the very fiber of Mediterranean life.
In this article, we will showcase some of the all-time classic Mediterranean recipes alongside a few best-kept secret recipes to try. Each recipe is authentic and has its roots very much in the old-world style of cooking and eating – the Mediterranean way.
There’s something about roasted bell peppers that just hits differently, don’t you think? Their sweetness comes to the fore, and the charred outer skins offer a rustic flavor of fire. This recipe is all about roasting peppers two ways, either in the oven or the stovetop, the choice is yours.
Done in an Italian style, these sweet and juicy peppers are delicious mixed through a penne pasta or served with some basil and mozzarella as a legitimately good appetizer.
This simple and authentic tahini salad is a Middle Eastern favorite for dressing up falafel and skewer dishes. The recipe leads you through how to make your very own tahini. Tahini is the base ingredient for the classic Middle Eastern hummus, so making more is never a bad idea.
With jalapeno and Aleppo peppers in the mix, this salad has a good deal of heat that will keep spice lovers coming back time and time again. It also works great as a dip for baked pita wedges – scoop, sit back, take a bite, smile, and rejoice.
Who doesn’t love potato that’s nice and fluffy on the inside and irresistibly crispy on the outer? These roasted potatoes are a one-way ticket to culinary heaven, being the perfect balance between the two. If you’ve never heard of “smashed” potatoes before, then you’re in for a real treat, as the smashing process allows them to turn crispier than you ever thought possible.
Seasoned in garlic olive oil and the middle eastern spice of Za’atar, these potatoes are a refreshing twist on the standard roasted potato.
We’re guessing you’ve munched down a veggie fritter or two over the years, but have you ever sampled a Mediterranean one? These delicious little fritters can offer the perfect munching plate to start off a Mediterranean-inspired dining evening.
The shredded beat and grated carrot give the fritters a vibrant color that, even before eating, will attract your guest’s attention and make them eager for more.
These hearty vegan meatballs can be a tasty appetizer to serve with tzatziki or mixed through spaghetti with a rich tomato ragu. Roasted eggplant, lentil, and toasted breadcrumbs form the base of these beauties that have a chewy and robust texture. To make sure they don’t fall apart on your plate, pureed sweet potato has been added to make them nice and sticky.
Although they aren’t exactly a 20-minute dish, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze with these vegan treats.
One of the most widely eaten dips in the world, tzatziki is a crowd pleaser to say the last. This recipe is a very traditional one, that is stacked with finely chopped garlic. So authentic is this recipe, that it features vinegar to create some tang, instead of lemon which most tzatziki recipes of today use.
Chopped cucumber and fresh dill are mixed into the yogurt to offer freshness and a little texture. Traditionally served with bread, tzatziki also goes very well in a pita with falafel and salad.
Bursting with life, this tomato and strawberry bruschetta has both a sweet and bitey side. This is a super simple one to put together that only requires a hand full of easily sourced ingredients like basil and garlic to become an instant-classic appetizer of the home. Serve it on thinly sliced crusty sourdough to bring out the best results of texture, and flavor.
Bruschetta is always the first to go at a party, and this recipe is guaranteed to have guests looking over their shoulders wondering where’s there another plate of the stuff?
Inspired by the iconic Italian Caprese salad, these lively skewers are summer on a stick. You just can’t go wrong when tomato and mozzarella are in the mix. Add some peach and prosciutto and you’ve got yourself one of the better skewers to ever have been dreamt up. Served fresh, these skewers will fit the bill at a summer garden party, helping to keep people cool and well-fed.
Slip a few basil leaves in there and be generous with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to really transport your guests to the Italian seaside.
As is often the case, the simplest meals are typically the tastiest ones, and this baked brie with fig jam and nuts is a delicious and perfect example of the “simple is best” ethos. It can be put together in minutes, ready to be scooped up and devoured after just 15 minutes in the oven.
The sweetness of the fig jam is a great sparring partner for the tardiness of the cheese, and the toasted nuts add an unforgettable amount of crunch. Serve it alongside your favorite crackers as a pre-cursor to a memorable Mediterranean meal and watch your family’s faces light up after their first bite and until their last.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Spaniard who isn’t fond of tortilla. It is one of those quintessential foods of Spain that every grandmother knows how to make to perfection. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tucking into a slice, then you must stop what you’re doing right now and make this recipe.
Potato, egg, onion, salt, pepper, and a staggering amount of extra virgin olive oil is all that’s required, plus a little time. A good tortilla should be soft, salty, and just warm enough to hit that special place that only very few foods are able to do.
If you’re into your brunch, then this Moroccan breakfast is going to become your new favorite mid-morning feast. Shakshuka is essentials poached eggs in a thick tomato sauce that’s intended to be served with a big helping of bread. In Morocco, bread is everything.
So to get into the North African spirit of food, simply break apart your bread, one chunk at a time, and dip, scoop, and slurp up this mighty meal until the bowl runs dry. Loaded with spices, vegetables, and beans, this traditional egg breakfast is as filling and as delicious as morning meals get.
We weren’t kidding when we said that the people of the Mediterranean loved their seafood, and this grilled seafood recipe is an ode to the thriving Mediterranean sea. Swordfish steaks are actually super easy to grill because they hold their form better than most other fish species.
Smother the swordfish in a lemon parsley mix just before you slap it on the grill to bring out the freshness of the fish and add some tang to the party.
Hugely popular in countries like Greece and Turkey, falafel is another powerhouse of Mediterranean cuisine. Serve it as part of a mezze platter, stuffed into a pita, wrapped up for lunch – falafel is adored the world over because it is functional.
The trick with falafel is to keep them light and fluff while also holding their form enough to be baked or fried. So follow the recipe meticulously and don’t despair if your falafel isn’t perfect the first time. Keep trying, because homemade falafel is a food that’s worth fighting for.
A traditional hunter’s stew of Italy, beef cacciatore is a time-honored dish that does not disappoint. Warm and hearty, this tomato-based stew is great served over a bed of pasta or rice to soak up its flavor-filled sauce. The blended bell peppers offer the sauce a sweetness that you don’t necessarily expect but are more than happy to accept.
Beef cacciatore varies depending on the region that it comes from, with the south opting for a saltier stew that includes anchovies and olives. If beef isn’t your thing, then you could always swap it out for chicken, lamb or a veggie alternative – a versatile winter’s meal to satisfy hunger and heart.
With chorizo, cod, bell pepper, olive, tomato, potato, and manchego cheese, you could be no place on earth but the Meditteranean. Cod is always going to be a winning family dinner, but when it has both chorizo and manchego cheese encrusted on to it, the dish suddenly gets raised to a whole new level.
Using a single tray to bake also means this recipe is easy to get along with. It also scores well in the health department, making it a great sunday lunch for the whole family.
This is the kind of dish that is so vibrant that it feels as if it’s ready to jump off the plate and start doing a dance with your mouth. The pomegranate, fig, olive, fresh herb and flaked almond culminate to create a spirited dish that’s served on a bed of hummus that’s generously doused in olive oil. Calling for lamb necks, the recipe is a frugal one with big first impressions.
A heart-healthy recipe with whole grain pasta, artichoke, cherry tomato, and olives to satisfy a ravenous hunger, the healthy way. We adore this pasta recipe because it leans on simple and honest ingredients for taste, instead of a heavy sauce that makes pinpointing individual ingredients a serious struggle.
Make sure you squeeze the juice of a whole lemon through the pasta to give it a bite of freshness just before serving.
Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provencal fish stew with its sea legs firmly in the French port city of Marseille. Bouillabaisse comes from humble beginnings with the city’s fisherman stewing up the bony rockfish and eel that no restaurant or market wanted.
However, nowadays, bouillabaisse is considered among some of the finest haute cuisine of the region. This recipe has been modernised to include mussels and shrimp alongside a whitefish of your choice so that you can skip on the eel and boney fish.
The beauty of this dish is that it can quite easily be served as a light, but very legitimate dinner in its own right, or served as a side to something more substantial. Zucchini is one of the all-time favorite vegetables of the Meditteranean, and this one-pan dish is stacked with the stuff. The pungency of the goat’s cheese that’s crumbled right before serving balances out the olive oil of the dish. A bean-loaded veggie meal that takes very little time to prepare and is so delicious that even the kids will be looking for seconds.
This lemon-baked lamb and potato dish hits all those desirable Meditteranean notes on texture, taste, and look. The herby crumb offers the lamb a delectable crunch. The lamb also soaks up the tangy juices of the lemon to give you a fresh, flavorsome, and tender cutlet. A simple dish that has just the right pairing of ingredients to suit a warm summer’s evening dining outside with some wine by your side.
No Meditteranean home is complete without a healthy stockpile of pure, extra virgin olive oil. So it seems only natural that a traditional cake from the region would be loaded with the stuff. This blood orange olive oil cake has a beautiful zest of life and fruit, with a softness to die for. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying an olive oil cake, then this corn-meal flecked recipe will set you up for a life-long love affair for this Meditteranean style of cake.
Fruit is big on the Meditteranean dessert scene, and it doesn’t get any more simple and delicious than this roasted fruit recipe. This particular recipe calls for peach, blueberry, cinnamon, brown sugar, and that is it. With a prep time of five minutes, this is the kind of dessert that can be put together when the main course is just about done.
Slip it in the oven just before serving your mains and let the fruit and sugar do their thing for 25 or so minutes. Then you’ve got yourself a tasty and relatively healthy dessert that no one can scoff at. Serve it with yogurt, cream, or even ice cream for a naughtier edge.
Looking like they have been served at a high-brow Middle Eastern restaurant, these phyllo stacks have no choice but to impress your guests. The filling ingredients read like a deconstructed baklava, with chopped raisins, honey, and pistachio all in healthy proportions.
The yogurt and strawberry topping helps to counterbalance the filling’s flavor, also offering an impactful aesthetic to serve. Just remember to cover your phyllo sheets with a wet tea towel while you prepare, as they are inherently prone to drying out.
At 140 calories each, these pistachio snack bars are ideal for satisfying the sweet tooth but in a health-conscious kind of way. Make the recipe into a fun and engaging weekend cooking lesson for the kids, with the end result being an entire week of healthy lunchbox snacks (for you and them).
The great thing about these snack bars is they don’t need to be baked, which all but eliminates the possibility of oven burns. Filled with dates, dark chocolate, oats, low sugar cranberries, and of course pistachio, this daytime dessert is a guranteed homerun for the whole family.
From north to south, the coarse stone-ground cornmeal known as polenta is engrained deep within the art of Italian cooking. Used in many savory and sweet dishes, it is an effortlessly versatile grain that has been a staple ingredient in Italy for literally hundreds of years.
This carrot and polenta cake perfectly captures the essence of polenta, highlighting both its texture and ability to hold flavor. The recipe features lemon and orange zest right alongside the Sicilian fortified wine “Marsala”, to create a fruity flavor that is captured in the carrot and polenta.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Is Mediterranean Food Cooked?
Mediterranean meals typically consist of vegetables that are roasted, baked, sautéed, and grilled. Because of their dedication to freshness, a lot of Mediterranean salads and meals are served fresh with a sauce or olive oil.
Although meat is used in some Mediterranean cooking, it is often included in sparing portions (the original plant-based dieters). Meat is almost always grilled, but can also be roasted with vegetables.
What Is Considered Mediterranean Diet?
Known for its health and wellbeing kudos, the Mediterranean diet has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and rightfully so, but what exactly is a Mediterranean diet? Not to be confused with Mediterranean cuisine as a whole, the Mediterranean diet details a predominately plant-based diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
Skipping the meat and cheese, this diet is proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body, and help people to feel generally lighter, and lose weight.
What Is Considered The Mediterranean Region?
There are a total of 22 countries connected by the Meditteranean Sea. Between them, they have a staggering 28,500 miles of coastline which, if stretched out, would wrap around the entire world and then some. Linking Africa, Asia, and Europe, the Meditteranean sea is one of, if not the most important trade routes of the world.
Having access to the Atlantic ocean through the Straight of Gibraltar means that Mediterranean nations are able to trade with the rest of the world too. Well-known countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey are in the Meditteranean as well as the less-traveled nations of Albania, Libya, Syria, and Cyprus.
The Meditteranean envelopes many of the world’s oldest nations that each have a rich and delicious history of cuisine. This article has offered a small snapshot into the unique and inspiring ways that the people of the Meditteranean grow, prepare, cook and eat their food.
We hope that it’s given you the inspiration to try out a few new recipes, also showing you why the Mediterranean is known worldwide for its culture that is centered around good company and great food.