Everyone knows about the Mediterranean Diet and how good it is for you, but not everyone knows that it can be delicious, cheap, easy and fun to prepare and make. Here are our top five dishes in no particular order.
Hummus: – Eaten all over the Mediterranean specially in Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt and the other North African Mediterranean countries, Hummus is really easy to make and in its simplest form, is just a mashed up mixture of chick peas, garlic, salt and olive oil.
Of course you can smarten it up by adding, lemon juice, tahine (delicious paste of sesame seeds), roasted red bell peppers, spinach and anything else you fancy really. Sop it up with pitta bread or a crusty country loaf, for a satisfying snack that’s good for you and costs only pennies.
Pizza Margherita: – Another classic Mediterranean dish where only a handful of fresh ingredients are used. The Margherita is the original Pizza, said to have been named after Margherita of Savoy, Queen of Italy in the late nineteenth century. Fresh ripe beef tomatoes, sliced buffalo mozzarella and a handful of basil leaves are placed on a thin pizza base and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Baked for only a minute or two in a red hot wood-burning oven, the result is a crispy, tasty, melty delight which just has to be experienced.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio e Peperoncino: – Here the quality of the ingredients can make all the difference: really fresh garlic, top quality olive oil, homemade, or the best dried pasta you can find and dried or fresh chillies. Grate your Parmesan from the block and that’s it: For extra luxury, add a handful of chopped fresh herbs, and there are a couple of other great additions you can use, but there’s nothing better than the original, simple recipe. Heaven on a plate.
Ratatouille or Pisto: – Known as Ratatouille Niçoise in the south of France and Pisto Manchego or Pisto Madrileño in Spain, this vegetable stew is versatile and full of Mediterranean flavours. The combination of onions, garlic, tomatoes, aubergines/eggplants and courgettes/zucchini makes a great accompaniment to grilled meats, chicken or fish, and it’s just as good on its own. Sop it up with fresh crusty bread as a hot tapa or eat it cold with salad as a light lunch. Any way you eat it, it’s a fantastic and economical Mediterranean dish.
Tortilla Española: – The Spanish omelette is ubiquitous in Spain. Every bar and restaurant will provide you with one kind of tortilla or another, and the basic tortilla de patatas or potato omelette is simple and easy to make when you get used to it. Practice a couple of times and you’ll quickly be turning them out like a professional. Again, there are only a few cheap and cheerful basic ingredients:
in this case, potatoes, onions, eggs and olive oil for frying. You can add any number of meats and vegetables to the basic omelette, including: peas, broad beans, asparagus, ham, chorizo, chicken and prawns/shrimp. It’s up to you.
As you can see, these are only a few of the cheap and simple Mediterranean dishes that you can easily make from scratch, so take the bull by the horns and get started on your own Mediterranean cooking career today.