What makes Mediterranean dishes stand out from everything else? Heart health and the many other benefits that have been discovered, including cancer prevention, bone loss reduction, and slower aging.
You may ask: what else is so special about Mediterranean food? Most of these dishes from Greece and Southern Italy are comprised of grains, healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and very little red meat. The list of what you can prepare straight from the kitchen is plenty and versatile. You can even mix them up a bit or come up with your own delicious versions.
To give you a head start on your Mediterranean-inspired culinary adventure, here are some of our top picks for the most delectable and heart-healthy dishes from the region.
Chickpea Greek Salad
This simple yet rich dish is perfect if you want to familiarize yourself with all the flavors of the Mediterranean. Chickpeas, olives, cucumbers, Feta cheese, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and quinoa make up this delicious bowl that only takes a few minutes to prepare.
First, get four small bowls ready. Arrange ⅓ cup each of chickpeas and grape tomatoes, half a cup of cucumber, a quarter cup of green pepper, 20 pieces of small olives, and red onion sliced lengthwise per bowl then top them off with some feta cheese.
For your dressing, mix lemon juice, two tablespoons of virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of minced oregano, and season the dressing with some kosher salt and ground black pepper. After mixing all of the ingredients, toss one and a half tablespoons for each bowl of salad and you have yourself an easy to prepare and hearty lunch treat.
Mediterranean Pork and Orzo
We know we said that Mediterranean-inspired dishes come with little to no red meat, but we can’t just leave pork lovers behind can we? All you really need is half a pound of pork to prepare this easy dish that’s perfect for busy days.
Sprinkle and rub black pepper all over the pork. Then cut the pork into one-inch cubes before cooking them over olive oil in medium heat.
While waiting for the meat to cook, boil 3 quarts of water. Then stir in the orzo and some salt for eight minutes uncovered. Mix in your spinach, then cook for another minute before draining. Add a cup of grape tomatoes to your pork then stir in your orzo mix along with some Feta cheese.
Salmon is a good source of healthy fats, good brain food, and rich with vitamins and minerals. Combining it with healthy juices and spices for this Mediterranean-inspired dish gives you a delicious low-sodium meal.
Prepare your charcoal grill by coating the rack with cooking spray. Make sure your grill is about four inches away from the heat.
Mix four tablespoons of chopped basil, 1 tablespoon of parsley, garlic and lemon juice into a bowl and sprinkle a bit of black pepper. Apply this mixture to your salmon fillets, then carefully place them on the grill with the mixture facing down. Turn up the heat for better results.
After around three minutes, turn your fillets over and onto a spread of aluminum foil. Then lower heat to avoid overcooking. Check for your salmon’s temperature and make sure it reads 145℉ before preparing them in a warm plate. Finally, top your fish with some green olives and lemon slices for a totally appetizing treat.
The best thing about this dish is its versatility. You may substitute your salmon with swordfish, halibut, sea bass, or any other white fish.
Mediterranean Shrimp Linguine
This sumptuous seafood dish is both delicious and heart-healthy.
Cook your linguine according to package suggestions as you sauté two pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp in olive oil. Add minced garlic and cook a minute longer. Then mix in a cup of red pepper, half an ounce of sliced ripe olives, half a cup of minced parsley, half a teaspoon of dried oregano, half a cup of white wine, and some pepper flakes. Season with salt and reduce heat.
Drain the pasta, saving about half a cup of cooking water and pour it onto the skillet while stirring in your lemon juice and ¾ cup of crumbled Feta cheese. Cook until the cheese melts.
As versatile as many Mediterranean dishes are, you can also substitute linguine with fettuccine and still get the same delicious goodness!
Share more of your Mediterranean-inspired recipes in the comments section below 🙂