Fustini's Oils and Vinegars

Take a Trip to the Mediterranean with These Heart-Healthy Recipes

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One of the most exciting parts about traveling is exploring new flavors and recipes associated with that part of the world or culture. 

Perhaps our travel plans have been put on hold for way too long. While physically we may face restrictions in opportunities to see other parts of the world, that doesn’t mean we can’t still experience and learn about different cultures and cuisines. 

The Mediterranean culture is commonly associated with their heart-healthy ingredients and lifestyles. Yet beyond their emphasis on extra virgin olive oils and fish dishes, this type of cuisine comes with rich cultural ties and aligns with the climate and economy of the region. 

Whether you’ve had the pleasure of visiting places like Greece, have been raised within that culture or are just learning about this unique cuisine, the Mediterranean cuisine offers a variety of flavors and ingredients for all. 

Take a trip to the coasts of the Mediterranean through both traditional and innovative recipes and dishes the region has to offer. Here we share some interesting finds all about the Mediterranean diet and fresh, delicious recipes to transform your kitchen into a seaside terrace. 

What is Mediterranean Cuisine? 

Pita. Hummus. Olives. 

You’ll find it all in Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. While there certainly are elements that unite this culinary category, you’ll also find a rich diversity of dishes and flavors based on the specific region within the Mediterranean. Here are some interesting things to note about this type of cuisine. 

It’s Not Specific to a Single Culture

Unlike most other cuisines, Mediterranean cuisine is related to a collection of cultures and influences. Different regions can all incorporate various elements of Mediterranean cuisine. With the foundation around the Mediterranean Sea, each of these cultural influences can have its own take on what is often thought of as the Mediterranean diet. 

Typically, this category can be broken down into three main regions. Eastern Mediterranean includes places like Turkey, Greece and Egypt. Southern Europe brings in cultural influences of places like Spain and Italy. North African cuisine includes countries like Algeria and Libya.

Its Flavors and Ingredients are Diverse

With such diversity in cultural and regional influences, the Mediterranean diet brings in flavors inspired by each of those influences. The Mediterranean cuisine in Turkey can be vastly different from the flavors in Egypt. While these cuisines still carry the label of “Mediterranean,” it’s important - and exciting - to recognize the diversity in flavors and ingredients. 

Eastern Mediterranean

This region may be what we most commonly associate Mediterranean cuisine with. Cheese and yogurt play important roles in a variety of dishes. Herbs like parsley and mint as well as lemon juice are common add-ins to this region. Sauces are often incorporated with pomegranates and nuts. Grilled lamb and poultry are common proteins and chickpeas will often make an appearance. 

Southern European 

Distinctive ingredients like pork and wine are characteristic of this region. Dishes are also enhanced with foods like tomatoes, anchovies and mustards. Grains include a variety of pastas and rice for all sorts of dishes. Cultural influences from Italy and France make this type of cuisine unique. 

North African 

With rich influence from African countries, spices like cumin, saffron, paprika and clove transform dishes with exciting flavor. Fruits that are dried like raisins and dates can also find their way into sauces and dishes. 

When taking a culinary trip to the Mediterranean, you’ve got options. Keep these three distinct regions in mind as you explore new recipes and flavor combinations. 

It’s United in Similar Ingredients

Despite the diversity through cultural and regional influences, there are some elements of the Mediterranean diet that unite the cuisine. Dishes often are rich in vegetables and feature the fresh and flavorful produce available in the sunny, warm climate. Olives and olive oil are a staple for all types of cuisine, as well as seafood. Fresh herbs are also a universal component to this type of cuisine, including basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, saffron, oregano and more. 

Heart-Health Benefits 

Among the similar ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine, key components like olive oil and fish can make it a great heart-healthy diet. From dressings to cooking and more, olive oil is used to add flavor and transform ingredients. Olive oil is known to have valuable benefits for your heart and overall health, including reducing your risk of heart disease, fighting inflammation, preventing stroke and more. 

It’s More Than a Diet

Mediterranean cuisine can often be used synonymously as a Mediterranean diet. However, the phrase “diet” may differ from true Mediterranean cuisine, while it’s based in the same core components of the cuisine. Diet may refer to more plant-based foods, fresh vegetables and lots of heart-healthy olive oil and fish. Cuisine may incorporate a much broader collection of ingredients and foods. While similar, they don't have exactly identical meanings. 

From health benefits to diversity of flavors and rich ingredients, Mediterranean is a delightful, fresh and fairly healthy cuisine that offers opportunities for customizing and finding recipes and dishes you love. 

Travel to the Mediterranean with These Recipes 

Transform your kitchen into a coastal oasis with these flavorful, fresh recipes that take you to the Mediterranean. 

Fustini’s Hummus & Pita Chips - One of the most common Mediterranean snacks, hummus and pita just go together. This hummus brings a brightness with Sicilian Lemon Balsamic that pairs well with pita roasted with savory oils like Tunisian Harissa Olive Oil

Greek Dip - Layer hummus with other coastal ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese for an easy and beautiful appetizer. 

Baked Greek Pita - Turn traditional Mediterranean ingredients into a savory pizza with a pita crust. These pitas are easy to customize, letting you top off your personal pizza with exactly what you like. The sprinkle of Olive Bruschetta Spices also makes it easy to bring in classic flavors. 

Greek Pasta Salad with Garbanzo Beans - Turn a classic Greek salad into a pasta dish with this easy dump-and-stir. Mix in easy ingredients like olives, garbanzo beans and feta. Then, top it all off with a savory dressing made with Garlic olive oil.  

Greek Shrimp - Incorporate traditional Mediterranean flavors like Dill with this tomato-based shrimp dish. Serve alongside crusty bread for a savory meal. 

Lamb and Spinach Pies - These savory pies bring in the common meat of lamb alongside fresh herbs and veggies. In this recipe, preserved lemons add a pop of bright flavor. 

Mediterranean Couscous Salad - Couscous is a common grain found in this cuisine, valuable with its versatility and nutty flavor. This salad brings in traditional fresh veggies and herbs, all topped with a bright dressing made with Meyer Lemon olive oil

Olive Oil Braised Chickpeas - Whether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these classic beans can be found in hummus or falafel, as well as just plain roasted. This recipe elevates this traditional flavor with a single varietal olive oil

Tabouli - Made with either quinoa or bulgur, this tasty side brings in fresh, chopped veggies and herbs. The dressing with Gremolata olive oil and Iron Fish Honey Vinegar amp up the natural flavors of each ingredient, making this traditional dish a new favorite. 

Tzatziki - Make your own creamy sauce and dip with this flavor-packed recipe. With a yogurt base, this incorporates a pop of green color from fresh cucumber and dill. Use this sauce for dipping pita or topping off roasted garbanzo beans. 

Grilled Lamb Burgers - As lamb tends to be a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, these rich burgers are topped off with a homemade tzatziki sauce for a creamy, savory meal. 

Portobello & Asparagus Baklava - This savory layered bite brings in rich flavors from mushrooms and asparagus. The phyllo dough is baked with a Rosemary olive oil that pairs well with this easy appetizer.

Travel to the Mediterranean Coast, Right From Your Kitchen

Even if you’re not able to travel to Greece, Turkey or Egypt, you can still enjoy the flavor and heart-healthy ingredients that Mediterranean cuisine has to offer. Try out these wholesome and versatile recipes to bring the Mediterranean coast right to your own kitchen. 

 

 

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