22 Mediterranean Recipes for Beginners
- August 18, 2020
So, you’re thinking about trying out the Mediterranean diet? First of all, great choice. With no rigid rules around cutting out macronutrients but an emphasis on eating more heart-healthy foods, this particular diet is one of the most sustainable ones around.Widmer RJ, et al. (2014). The Mediterranean diet, its components, and cardiovascular disease. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014
But our favorite part about it is that the kind of ingredients it prioritizes allows for some seriously good eating. With rich tahini sauce, fruity olive oil, nutty whole grains, plenty of veggies, fish and eggs, and tons of fresh herbs and spices all getting two thumbs up, just imagine the meals you can make.
But if you’re still not sure where to begin or are simply overwhelmed by the options, here are 22 of our picks for the best — and simplest —Mediterranean diet recipes.
Short of actually flying out to that sunny coastline, creating these dishes at home is the best way to kick off your new and improved lifestyle.
Overnight oats are all the rage, but even veteran nutrition nuts might be pleasantly surprised by this unique, Mediterranean-inspired concoction.
With ricotta cheese, blood oranges, pistachios, and lavender honey (if you can find it), it’s a fruity bowl that’s just creamy enough to make you appreciate oats again.
Honor the Mediterranean diet’s emphasis on plant-based eating with this produce-packed, vegan protein-rich breakfast.
It’s bursting with veggies, but the tahini and nutritional yeast are the real heroes for adding a ton of rich flavor to the crumbled tofu.
You don’t have to settle for plain old scrambled eggs when you’re on the Mediterranean diet. The whipped eggs in this recipe are stirred into a mixture of caramelized onion, tomato, and lots of herbs.
Add feta if you wish, but it’s just as tasty if you choose to go dairy-free.
Extra virgin olive oil may sound like an unusual ingredient for granola, but don’t knock it ’til you try it.
It’s a seriously good complement to the honey and orange zest, and you’re still getting plenty of nutty, crunchy substance from the almonds and baked oats.
With bulgur, lots of parsley, and an olive oil and lemon dressing, this is pretty much your typical tabbouleh. But the addition of eggs gives it some much-needed protein that makes it all the more breakfasty.
Poaching them will require 5 extra minutes, but when you’ve got runny egg yolk to dip your pita wedges into, you’ll be grateful you took that time.
Give peanut butter a break and spread your toast with a layer of whipped ricotta lemon and honey instead.
The lemon’s tart and zesty flavor liven up the entire recipe, while sliced figs and pistachios on top get that sweet and savory combo just right.
Sweet potatoes replace the white ones in this healthy hash, and while you won’t find bacon in the mix, you won’t even notice it’s missing.
This blogger changes things up by adding green olives and mozzarella balls, and let’s not forget about the juicy pomegranate seeds that make the dish totally unique.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Craft and Process
Chickpeas are good for more than just hummus, guys!
Combine them in a pan with cardamom, cumin, and some red pepper flakes, and they become spicy, crispy, and totally addictive. Toss them into salads or eat them on their own as a delicious side or snack.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Simple Vegan Blog
You can always find hummus at the store, but one must-have dip that isn’t so readily available at the supermarket is this traditional Syrian red pepper and walnut dip.
While there’s usually a piece of bread blended into the mix for texture, this recipe opts for rolled oats. But otherwise, it keeps the cumin-spiced, garlicky flavors of the classic.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Vayia’s Kitchen
You’re hit with an intense craving for fries, but you’re really trying to lay off the whole deep-fried thing. Make these oven-cooked potatoes instead.
Coated in olive oil, garlic powder, and a hint of lemon juice, then roasted, they have the crispy outsides and buttery insides that are reminiscent of thick-cut wedges. We’re pretty sure they’ll hit the spot.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Primavera Kitchen
The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have anything against carbs, per se (you can eat pasta), but for the times you do want to cut back, opt for this “grain” salad.
Cauliflower has been pulverized and microwaved until tender, then tossed with a heap of other veggies and a ridiculously easy dressing. You’ll feel like you’re eating rice, but really it’s veggies.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Culinary Hill
With bits of toasted pita, chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, and a lemon- and garlic-infused olive oil dressing, this traditional Lebanese bread salad is the ideal light lunch.
Need some extra protein? Add chickpeas, feta, salmon or grilled chicken to make it more filling.
Share on Pinterest Photo: The Hungry Bites
Chickpeas usually take the spotlight when we think of Mediterranean food (hello, falafel and hummus), but don’t forget, there are plenty of other legumes that are worth incorporating into your meals.
This salad mixes fresh, protein-packed boiled fava beans with olive oil-flavored homemade croutons and lots of Kalamata olives for a lettuce-free salad you’ll be eating by the forkful.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Running to the Kitchen
The Mediterranean diet doesn’t have much space for mayonnaise, but if it’s a creamy carrot salad you’re looking for, this one totally delivers.
The tahini and Greek yogurt dressing offers much more healthy fat and protein than mayo, while feta and parsley amp up the Mediterranean vibe.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Rhian’s Recipes
Chickpeas step in for chicken, and once again, tahini replaces mayo in the creamy sauce for this totally vegan take on the deli salad.
And since we’re going Mediterranean, it’s tucked into pita pockets instead of sliced bread, alongside basil, cherry tomatoes, and olives.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Wallflower Kitchen
With the Mediterranean area including Italy, how could the cuisine not be super drool-worthy? And while the cheesy pizzas and rich pasta are more famous, this risotto reflects the region’s pride in fresh produce.
It’s loaded with all sorts of vegetables in a tomato-based broth that doesn’t involve any dairy whatsoever.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Mighty Mrs.
You can even give tacos the Mediterranean diet treatment by stuffing crunchy tortilla shells with ingredients like olives, feta, hummus, and Greek dressing.
Not only are these a nice change to typical Taco Tuesday, but the no-cook method makes them even easier to whip up for a quick meal.
Share on Pinterest Photo: Pups with Chopsticks
Fried rice isn’t just a Chinese take-out dish. This recipe takes a more Mediterranean route, using cumin and sumac, a lemony spice common in the region’s cuisine, to season the meat, egg, and grains.
It’s a well-balanced, nourishing meal, all ready in 1 pan and 30 minutes.
Share on Pinterest Photo: The View From Great Island
If it’s heart-healthy and Mediterranean-diet approved, this sheet pan salmon definitely makes the cut.
The fish itself is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, but if that’s not enough, the olive oil coating and pitted olive garnish can help your system run like a well-oiled machine.
Share on Pinterest Photo: The Modern Proper
The Mediterranean diet isn’t huge on red meat, so these turkey patties are a great way to satisfy a burger craving instead.
Seasoned with oregano and parsley, they’re especially tasty with a hefty drizzle of the Greek yogurt tzatziki sauce — so much better than plain old ketchup and mustard.
21. Harissa pasta
Share on Pinterest Photo: Searching for Spice
Although harissa is a spice paste from North Africa, it frequently makes an appearance in Mediterranean cooking, probably thanks to the geographic proximity of the regions.
Whatever the reason, we’re grateful because it makes this pasta possible.
Share on Pinterest Photo: The Clean Eating Couple
With oregano, basil, parsley, olives, and feta, this orzo is practically a hall of fame for Mediterranean cuisine’s biggest stars.
The fresh ingredients add flavor to the whole-wheat orzo and chicken, and if the taste alone isn’t incentive enough to make it, maybe the fact that it’s ready in fewer than 30 minutes will be!
The word “diet” is loaded AF (and for good reason), so we prefer to think of this as a Mediterranean lifestyle — sounds much more appealing, doesn’t it?
Fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean meats, coupled with aromatic spices, herbs, and plenty of olive oil — it’s no wonder this way of eating is so delicious.
But the good news doesn’t stop there. It also has many proven benefits, from reduced risk of cardiovascular diseaseRosa Casas, et al. (2014). The effects of the Mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. A randomized trial. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100084 to lowered inflammationWhalen KA, et al. (2016). Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet pattern scores are inversely associated with biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative balance in adults. DOI: 10.3945/jn.115.224048 to weight loss.Manicini JG, et al. (2015). Systematic review of the Mediterranean diet for long-term weight loss. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.11.028
Wash it all down with a glass of heart-healthy red wineHaseeb S, et al. (2017). Wine and cardiovascular health: A comprehensive review. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030387 and close your eyes — you might just feel like you’re on vacation.