Mediterranean Diet Delights

Ratatouille in a dish

The value of Mediterranean-style eating has been borne out by years of research. Numerous studies have shown that the lifestyle and dietary habits of Greeks and Italians, among other regional nationalities, contributes to long life expectancy and low rates of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic disease.

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:

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.

Hummus recipe

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

ITALY

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

GREECE

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)

SPAIN

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)

  • For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, please explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.
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