20 Best Mediterranean Diet Recipes – A Couple Cooks
- September 08, 2020
One of the healthiest diets in the world is also the most delicious. Here are all the best Mediterranean diet recipes to get you cooking!
Want to eat the Mediterranean way? Of all the ways to describe a way of eating, the Mediterranean diet is probably the closest to what Alex and I eat. It’s been gaining traction as one of the healthiest diets in the world. And this is not diet food, folks: Mediterranean diet recipes are real, fresh, and seriously delicious! What we love even more is that it’s not just food: it’s a lifestyle approach. Keep reading for some of our favorite recipes.
What’s the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has been called one the healthiest and best in the world. But what exactly is it? The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating and living that derives from the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea (like Italy and Greece). It’s not a strict diet, but more of loose guidelines. Here’s how the Mayo Clinic defines the Mediterranean diet:
- Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats (like olive oil)
- Weekly consumption of fish, poultry, legumes (beans & lentils), and eggs
- Moderate portions of dairy products
- Limited intake of red meat
Mayo Clinic stresses that a Mediterranean diet is plant based, not meat based. It’s kind of like a whole food plant based diet (WFPB), with a bit of seafood and dairy thrown in. Having a loose concept is helpful and provides flexibility (like eating “flexitarian”, a word Alex and I often use to describe how we eat).
It’s all about the lifestyle.
One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s all about the lifestyle. This eating philosophy originated based on the longevity of people in the Mediterranean, and researchers observed more than just eating habits. Simply eating Mediterranean diet recipes is not all there is to it. Here’s what’s important in addition to food:
- Stay active and exercise regularly.
- Avoid smoking.
- Reduce the amount of stress in your lifestyle.
- Actively participate in community: be invested and engaged in the people around you!
Side note: our cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, has 10 lessons to a sustainable practice of healthy cooking. It’s no accident that they sound a lot like the tenets of the Mediterranean lifestyle! Many of the principles we learned about how to cook healthy on an everyday basis are less about food and more about lifestyle. These are the same principles that contribute to longevity in the Mediterranean diet.
And now…our top Mediterranean diet recipes!
Without further ado, here are our Mediterranean diet recipes! These recipes feature:
- Olive oil as the cooking oil of choice.
- Beans, lentils, bulgur wheat, quinoa, and rice as major players. They’ve gotten a bad rap with the interest in the keto diet and Whole 30, but recipes in the Mediterranean diet include beans and whole grains as nutritious foods.
- Vegetarian, vegan & seafood recipes. Mediterranean diet recipes are plant based in nature, but it’s recommended to include seafood about 2 times per week.
Try our 28 Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan: complete with meal plan download!
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
(25votes, average:4.52out of 5)
4.5 from 25 reviews
- Yield: 6 1x
Looking for Mediterranean diet recipes? This herby orzo salad is a crowd favorite, bursting with flavor from fresh dill and mint, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
- 8 ounces orzo pasta (1 1/4 cup dry)
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 lemon, juice and zest (about 2 tablespoons juice)
- 1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
- 1/2 English cucumber (2 cups diced, or substitute a peeled standard cucumber)
- 2 roasted red peppers from a jar or 1/2 fresh red bell pepper (1/2 cup diced)
- 1/3 cup chopped dill, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved
- Black pepper
- Prepare the orzo according to the package instructions. Taste the orzo a few minutes before completion to ensure it’s ‘al dente’ (chewy, but with a little firmness in the center). When it’s done, drain it and then rinse it under cold water until it comes to room temperature.
- Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
- Mince the red onion, then place it in a bowl with water (this helps to remove the sharp onion taste). Dice the cucumber. Dice the roasted red pepper. Chop the herbs.
- Stir together the orzo, chickpeas and bowl of lemon juice, red onion, cucumber, red pepper, dill, mint, white wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, oregano, feta crumbles, black olives, and several grinds of black pepper. Taste and if necessary, season with more kosher salt.
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Mediterranean Diet Recipes, Orzo Salad
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Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.