Here at Luna Grill, we’re committed to serving quality authentic Mediterranean flavors and sharing our knowledge of the cuisine with our community. This includes keeping you up-to-date with all the staple ingredients, popular and versatile spices, and interesting cooking methods.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Mediterranean diet recipes in this convenient guide.
What Makes Up Mediterranean Food?
Before you can understand how to cook some of these interesting recipes, you’ll want to get the know-how on what exactly Mediterranean food is. Mediterranean cuisine is a variety of foods, ingredients, and recipes popular in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
That said, you can imagine there is a lot of variety in Mediterranean cuisine. But surprisingly, there is a lot of overlap that can be found all over the region, typically regarding the staple ingredients that thrive in this climate.
Olives are perhaps the most vital ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. Olive oil is used in most if not all, dishes made by the communities around the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a healthy source of fat, vitamins, and minerals supporting physical and mental health.
Olives are a great addition to classic dishes like Greek salad, pita wraps, bowls and traditional savory meats.
Chickpeas are versatile little beans found in many Mediterranean-style dishes. You probably know chickpeas best through the popular dish of garlickyhummus, but they can be found in many other cuisines, like crispyfalafel, tossed in salads, and chickpea stew.
These are great sources of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. This is one reason why the Mediterranean diet is well known in those communities as healthy and well-rounded.
There is a wide variety of popular proteins found in Mediterranean cuisine. We’ve already mentioned chickpeas and even kalamata olives, but let’s talk meat.
Gyro meat is one of the most popular meats known to the Mediterranean diet. This dish is made with beef and lamb meat and unique spices. This can be served on a bed of rice, wrapped in a pita, or even tossed in a salad.
Chicken is also a popular protein in Mediterranean cuisine. Served grilled in a pan or on a kabob, Mediterranean chicken can be cooked in various methods and is found in many different dishes across the sea. Try marinating your grilled chicken in spicy harissa sauce, za’atar seasoning, or a zesty lemon vinaigrette!
Speaking of the sea, seafood is also popular in Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh-caught shrimp, mussels, and wild-caught salmon fillets are some proteins popular on our menu and in many regions of the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece. In fact, the Mediterranean is the only breeding ground for the world’s most valuable fish, the Atlantic bluefin tuna.
We can’t talk about Mediterranean proteins without mentioning lamb’s milk. This versatile milk is used for some of the most popular ingredients found throughout the region, like tangyfeta cheese. Cow’s milk is also used in important dishes, like Greek yogurt and tzatziki.
Just like in every type of diet around the world, whole grains play a key role. For example, the famed pita is a Mediterranean staple. Who doesn’t love warm bread served alongside their meal? It’s great for dipping in hummus and stews or for holding the contents of your wrap.
Other grains are popular in Mediterranean dishes but are prepared much differently. Couscous, orzo, and bulghur wheat, for example, are prepared more like rice or quinoa and found in dishes like side dishes and salads, tabbouleh salad, and stews.
Veggies and Fruits
Fresh veggies are a must when cooking Mediterranean cuisine. Let’s talk about some of the staples. Tomatoes are found in many dishes, whether cherry tomatoes served fresh atop a pita wrap or in a salad or cooked down in stew-like dishes like shakshuka. These fresh fruits are necessary for a well-rounded Mediterranean dish.
Cucumbers are a fun veggie that adds fresh and cooling flavor, whether served as a topping to a wrap or a core veggie in a Mediterranean salad. Olives add a tangy kick of flavor to any dish, and red onions are a fantastic addition to most Mediterranean meals, whether fresh or pickled.
Many healthy Mediterranean-inspired dishes also include artichokes, bell peppers, zucchini, and roasted red peppers.
Our Favorite Dishes: 3 Recipes
1. Tabbouleh Salad With Spicy Harissa Hummus on the Side
A tabbouleh salad is a favorite dish packed with refreshing veggies and lots of flavor. This dish is easy to make and whips together in only about 15 minutes. Let’s walk you through the details!
Your bulghur wheat is the main ingredient you’ll need to prep for this dish. Follow the instructions on the package. We recommend this as the first step so that you can prep your veggies while it cooks.
Then it’s time to prep the veggies! You’ll need tomatoes, lots of parsley, green onions, lemon juice, and olive oil for this recipe. Dice up your tomatoes and finely chop your green onions and parsley. Once your bulghur has cooked and had time to cool, it’s time to mix it all up. Add your ingredients to a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. You can also mix a bit of tahini or pesto into your dressing for an extra umami kick.
This dish is best served alongside our spicy harissa hummus and pita bread, which you can find under our appetizers. The flavors pair well together. The creamy spice of the hummus contrasts perfectly with the cool and citrusy flavors of the tabbouleh.
2. Koobideh Plate With Basmati Rice
One of our most famous dishes is our koobideh kabob, a traditional Persian-style kabob made with seasoned minced beef. So it is no surprise that one of our favorite recipes would involve this savory dish.
Koobideh is a savory Persian kabob typically served with grilled peppers, onions, and white rice. In our version, we like to add some spices to our basmati rice to add a bit more flavor. Some good spices include turmeric, paprika, or saffron. While you can always cook a koobideh kabob at home, you can always order some to save time.
To plate up this dish, we start by cooking our rice. While that’s cooking, we like to whip together a little Mediterranean salad. Typically our salads consist of a bed of greens or lettuce tossed in lemon vinaigrette, with typical Mediterranean veggies added, like cucumber, tomato, and red onion.
Sometimes we like to add toasted chickpeas or pine nuts for some crunch. Add a crumble of feta, and you’ve got a refreshing side salad to accompany your meal. We like to plate our koobideh on top of our bed of rice and serve it with pita, hummus, and tzatziki for dipping.
One of the great things about Mediterranean food is similar to Thanksgiving food; everything on the plate tastes great mixed with everything else involved.
This baked eggplant casserole has been popular for centuries. This warm baked dish will hit all comfort food notes with that zesty Mediterranean flair.
This dish is a bit more entailed than some others, but the beauty of it is that most of the cooking time is spent baking, which allows you to go about other activities in your home. For this dish, you will need a few eggplants, about a pound and a half of ground beef or lamb, an onion, a can of crushed tomatoes with tomato sauce, and the seasonings of your choice.
First, you’ll need to slice and roast your eggplants. Then you’ll need to make your meat sauce. To do this, simply cook your diced onion in a pan and add your meat. Once the meat is just about done, add your canned tomatoes and seasonings.
Next comes the fun part; making the Greek bechamel sauce for Moussaka! This cheesy, creamy mixture is made by creating a very light roux with butter and flour and whisking in milk, parmesan cheese, and eggs.
Once this is done, you’ll plate up your moussaka in a casserole dish very similar to how you would plate lasagna. Layer the eggplants slices, then the meat mixture, then repeat. Top it all off with the bechamel and bake in the oven until golden brown on top.
This Middle Eastern dinner is great for any weeknight or weekend celebration. It can also be made gluten-free by substituting the flour in the roux.
Our Favorite Mediterranean Dishes from Across the Region
We could go on all day about our favorite Mediterranean dishes, but for the sake of your time, we’ve narrowed our list down to our three favorite meals. Each dish is quite different from the other, so you’ve got a wide variety of new dishes to try out, from refreshing and light tabbouleh to the warm, comfort dish of moussaka.
Try these new dishes out, or swing by Luna Grill to have us make them for you!
Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Fishing facts – Med Sea Alliance