Mediterranean Diet Delights
Because Mediterranean cuisine encompasses a number of nations, climates, and topographies, it is not always easy to define it in a nutshell. Some of the regions whose cuisine is considered Mediterranean are Italy, Greece, Spain, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, and coastal Egypt and France. Common to these national cuisines is an affinity for olive oil (in fact, the use of olive oil in some regions delivers 40% of daily calories from fat, yet without adverse effect, due to its composition).
The diet is largely plant-based, filled with a profusion of vitamin- and antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables, high-fiber grains and legumes, and complex carbohydrate-rich pastas and breads. Garlic is used generously in nearly every region. And every cuisine utilizes plentiful herbs and spices to play up its unique character—from Morocco’s sweet mixes of cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric to Italy’s aromatic herbs—basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and more.
Here are some of the Mediterranean-style recipes on VegKitchen:
- Mediterranean Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins
- Greek Stewed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Zucchini
- Moroccan Lentil and Garbanzo Soup (Harira)
- Fattouche Salad
- Penne with Swiss Chard and White Beans
- Tuscan-Style Rotini
- Baked Tomatoes Provençal
- Moroccan-Style Vegetable Stew
- Paella Vegetariana
- Classic Hummus, with Variations
THE (PLANT-BASED) MEDITERRANEAN IN YOUR PANTRY
The national cuisines that comprise the Mediterranean diet have many elements in common with one another. Olive oil and garlic lead the way and are characteristic to all the cuisines; vegetables, fruits, grains, breads, legumes, and fresh herbs round out the basic pantry.
NORTHERN AFRICA (Morocco, Egypt)
Ingredients: Chickpeas, lentils, nuts, carrots, pumpkins and other squashes, rice, fava beans, dried fruits, sweet spices, flatbreads, mint
Well-known dishes: Couscous, tagine (vegetable stew)—Morocco; foul (fava beans with red lentils), koshary (macaroni with rice and lentils)—Egypt
Ingredients: Pastas, semolina breads, beans, cornmeal, Arborio rice, artichokes, asparagus, fennel, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, olives, green leafy vegetables, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, and others)
Well-known dishes: Risotto, polenta, focaccia, minestrone, pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup), pesto sauce
Ingredients: Rice, lentils, olives, eggplant, tomatoes, lemon, spinach, dill
Well-known dishes: Moussaka (eggplant casserole, which can be made meatless), dolmathes (rice-stuffed grape leaves)
MIDDLE EAST (Israel, Lebanon)
Ingredients: Chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), cracked wheat, olives, tomatoes, eggplant, yogurt, flatbreads, fresh fruits (apricots, dates), parsley
Well-known dishes: Hummus (chickpea dip) baba ghanouj (eggplant dip), tabouleh (cracked wheat and parsley salad), jalik (cucumber soup)
Ingredients: Peppers (both sweet and hot), potatoes, rice, beans, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, oranges, saffron
Well-known dishes: Piperade (sauteed peppers), paella (rice, vegetables, can certainly be made without the characteristic seafood), Romesco sauce (with hot red peppers)
FRANCE (specifically Provence)
Ingredients: Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, leeks, olives, eggplant, squash, sweet peppers, fennel, grapes and other fresh and dried fruits, fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, sage, basil, etc.)
Well-known dishes: Ratatouille (vegetable stew), soupe au pistou (vegetable soup with pesto sauce)
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