Category Archives: Mediterranean Recipes

Grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers

Grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers

When we first started eating a diet of mainly Mediterranean and Asian foods (many years ago!) we regularly had to shop at specialty grocers to buy Mediterranean and Asian ingredients, from tahini to tofu, kalamata olives to oyster sauce, and miso to arborio rice. Not any more — thanks to the growing enthusiasm for ethnic foods, most mainstream supermarkets now stock a wide variety of authentic international ingredients to cater to expanding tastes.

Supermarkets have also introduced more Mediterranean dairy foods onto their shelves, such as Greek yogurt and many different types of cheeses. These days, next to the cheddar, you can usually find a wide selection of cheeses from the Mediterranean region including Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, feta and halloumi.

Originating from Cyprus, halloumi cheese has the amazing ability to not melt over high heat. Instead it browns on the outside and softens delightfully on the inside without turning into a hot gooey mess.

These grilled skewers are one of the tastiest ways we know to enjoy halloumi. The fresh lemon and mint marinade adds a herby-citrus tang that balances the saltiness of the cheese. And the delicious golden brown exterior of the grilled halloumi lends itself perfectly to the sweet, caramelized flavor of the grilled vegetables. We often serve them alongside grilled fish or seafood together with some crusty bread and a simple side salad.

Here’s the recipe.

Basil and almond pesto pasta with broccoli, peas and zucchini

Basil almond pesto pasta

We use pesto to flavor everything from pizzas to brushcetta to soups. But more often than not we serve it the authentic way — tossed with pasta. Usually we make traditional Genoese pesto which combines fresh basil with pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. But we also like to mix things up occasionally and use different herbs or nuts such as in our Parsley and pumpkin seed pesto or Sun-dried tomato and walnut pesto.

The pesto in this pasta dish is very similar to traditional pesto but instead of pine nuts we use toasted almonds, which add their own unique flavor and creamy texture. We find this pesto sauce tastes particularly good with broccoli, green peas and zucchini. And to make things extra easy, the vegetables are cooked in the same pot with the pasta!

Here’s the recipe.

Mediterranean tuna and white bean salad

Mediterranean tuna and white bean salad

We love beans and add them to all sorts of dishes like soups stews, pastas, risottos, and salads like this one. In this salad we toss white beans and tuna — a classic Italian combination — with all the ingredients that you’d normally find in a traditional Greek salad, including cucumber, tomatoes, green pepper, red onion and kalamata olives. The dressing, too, is redolent of a Greek salad with olive oil, garlic, lemon and oregano. The end result is a delicious, rustic salad with fresh flavors and wonderful textures that encapsulates the essence of Mediterranean cuisine.

You can use any kind of white bean in this salad including cannellini or navy beans. We mostly use canned beans for convenience, but once in a while we’ll boil up a batch of dried beans, divide them into portions, and freeze. They’re ready to be defrosted overnight in the fridge, or microwaved for a couple of minutes.

Here’s the recipe.

White beans appear in all manner of culinary creations from around the Mediterranean. Here’s a selection of our recipes that feature white beans for you to try:

Asparagus, avocado, corn and feta salad with lemon-basil vinaigrette

Asparagus, avocado, corn and feta salad with lemon-basil vinaigrette

Asparagus has such a unique flavor and delicate texture. It’s also low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber and contains plenty of health-giving beta carotene, folate and potassium. The only downside to asparagus, of course, is the infamous ‘Asparagus pee.’ As far back as 1781 Benjamin Franklin noted that “A few stems of asparagus eaten shall give our urine a disagreeable odor.”

So what exactly is it in asparagus that causes this reaction? It’s actually a compound called  Asparagusic acid that when broken down in the body releases sulfur compounds that typically have an unpleasant scent. But while these sulfur compounds might be a bit smelly, they’re also very beneficial because they have anti-cancer properties. So even though there’s a bit of a downside to eating asparagus, we reckon the benefits far outweigh the risks!

Here’s one of our absolute favorite asparagus recipes — Asparagus, Avocado, Corn and Feta Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette.

Moroccan tomato, chickpea and couscous soup

Moroccan tomato, chickpea and couscous soup

Couscous is a Moroccan staple that’s often served as an accompaniment with tagine (Moroccan stew made in a traditional conical shaped clay pot), or used in salads and stuffings. Couscous can also be added in small amounts to soups such as this one to thicken and add extra texture. The tiny balls of couscous are simply added to the boiling soup and in a few short minutes they soften and plump up.

Moroccan soup

The chickpeas in this soup also add a wonderful textural contrast as well as providing plenty of protein and fiber. To create a creamier consistency we blend half of the soup into a puree before mixing it back with the rest of the soup. This really enhances the texture and flavor, but if you prefer a less creamy consistency leave this step out.

Here’s the recipe.

Potato and smoked salmon salad with creamy avocado dressing

Potato and smoked salmon salad with creamy avocado dressing

Great food that’s great for you — that’s how I’d best describe a MediterrAsian way of eating. This opulent salad is the perfect example. It doesn’t just taste wonderful, it’s also packed with nutritional goodness.

The buttery smoked salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The luscious dressing is made primarily with avocado and extra virgin olive oil — two excellent sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The crisp salad greens are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And the potato provides complex carbohydrates to fuel your muscles and brain, and they’re also a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C (and because the potatoes are eaten together with protein and goods fats, it means they’re digested slowly and don’t cause blood sugar spikes).

But the last thing we were thinking about when we were chowing down on this salad was the nutritional content. We were too busy savoring the taste!

Here’s the recipe.

Greek-style nachos

Greek-style nachos

As much as we love munching on a plate of nachos, we don’t much like all the calories and salt that go with it. So to make our nachos healthier but no less delicious we like to give them a Greek twist, and substitute traditional, fresh, Greek ingredients for the usual less healthy ingredients.

To lower the calorie content, we use feta and Greek yogurt in the creamy whip instead of using cheddar cheese and sour cream. Feta is stronger and saltier in flavor so you don’t need much, and the thick Greek yogurt adds extra creaminess without all the calories of sour cream. Using baked pita wedges instead of fried corn chips also saves calories.

The feta and Greek yogurt whip also has a secret ingredient — white beans. This not only helps add a creamy texture, but it also provides extra protein and fiber. We also make a fresh salsa instead of using jarred salsa to further reduce the amount of salt and sugar. The juicy tomato, cucumber and red onion salsa is accentuated by the authentic Greek taste of kalamata olives, oregano and fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Here’s the recipe.

Mediterranean cream of tomato soup with garlicky toasts

Mediterranean cream of tomato soup

Tomato soup is one of the most delicious and comforting soups. But forget those canned tomato soups packed with preservatives and laden with sugar and sodium. This soup — made with canned tomatoes and tomato paste for convenience — gives you the rich color and natural sweetness of tomatoes, without any unwanted food additives, and it can be prepared in under 20 minutes.

The oregano and thyme have a natural affinity with tomatoes, and the addition of onion and celery creates a lovely balanced flavor. The garlicky toasts are a great accompaniment — their crunchiness complements the velvety texture of the soup, and the garlicky flavor enhances the soup’s Mediterranean flavors. We prefer to pan-grill the toasts in a large frying pan because it gives them a delightfully crisp, light texture. But you can also cook them under the oven broiler.

Here’s the recipe.