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The Best of Mediterranean Cuisine

Featured image for "The Best of Mediterranean Cuisine" blog post. Mediterranean Salad.

The Mediterranean Sea region encompasses Southern Europe, Northern Africa, parts of the Middle East and Western Asia. Mediterranean cuisine is diverse, surprisingly healthy, and distinctly flavorful. You probably have an inkling as to what ingredients are essential in the Mediterranean cuisine kitchen. Think of the idyllic landscapes of Tuscany’s vineyards, of Turkish and Greek olive tree farms, and the wonderful taste of Arab flatbread. Guess what? Olive oil, bread, and wine form the great holy trinity of Mediterranean cuisine culinary tradition.

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Entrée: Mediterranean Cuisine Salad

Ingredients

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Lettuce
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Red onion
Feta cheese (buy low-fat for bonus health points or get Parmesan cheese, if you don’t like feta)
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine (or apple vinegar, if you are invested in your sobriety)

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Prep

Cut the lettuce into really thin strips. Peel and chop the cucumber and the tomatoes. Slice the onion. Grab a large bowl and throw all your veggies in it. In a smaller bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking the olive oil, wine or vinegar, garlic powder, and pepper. Once it’s ready to serve, spread the dressing over the salad and toss it thoroughly. Voila! A super quick, easy, and delicious popular recipe!

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Main Dinner Course: Maghreb Lamb with Rice

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Ingredients: Lamb

Two large onions
Two heads of garlic
Olive Oil
Salt
White Pepper
Thyme
Bay leaves
Rosemary
Four pounds of lamb meat
One lemon

Mediterranean rice bowl.
Mediterranean rice is a cultural staple of the Mediterranean cuisine.
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Prep

Preheat your oven to 320°F. Cut your onions and garlic in half and place them on the base of a large pan. Cover the onions and garlic with the thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary and generously drizzle it all with olive oil. Now, onto the lamb. It needs to get lightly seared before it goes into the oven. Delicately cut five slits into the skin of the lamb so you have pockets. These pockets should get stuffed with fresh herbs and slices of garlic. Rub some olive oil onto the lamb, again generously and thoroughly.

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Now, sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Place it in a frying pan. Take it to the stove on medium heat and get the lamb browned on all sides. Once it’s done, transfer it to the roasting pan with onions and herbs, squeeze some lemon juice over it and place the lemon halves in the tray, as well. Now, it’s ready to go into the oven! It should be ready in two and a half hours, but check it to see if it reached your desired point of tenderness beforehand.

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Ingredients: Rice

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Arborio rice
Sweet onions
Butter (aka Julia Child’s favorite ingredient, but if you want to be healthier you can use olive oil instead)
Chicken broth
Oregano
Basil
Salt
Cherry tomatoes
Shredded Mozzarella
Baby spinach
Parmesan
Fresh Parsley (optional)

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Prep

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Find a medium casserole dish and coat it with butter, or a vegetable spray. Dice the sweet onions and pour them in the casserole dish along with the rice. Melt some more butter and add it to the mix, stirring until the rice is fully coated. Now, add the chicken broth, salt (one tablespoon), oregano, and basil. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them over the top. Take the casserole dish to the oven and bake it for approximately 30 minutes.

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Cut any stems from the baby spinach and place them along with the mozzarella over the rice once it’s out of the oven. Make sure it’s all evenly distributed. Finally, add the Parmesan cheese and the parsley. Cover the casserole with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Dessert: Loukoumades

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Ingredients

Two packages of active dry yeast
Warm water
Warm milk
Sugar
Salt
Butter
Eggs
All-purpose flour
Honey
Vegetable oil
Ground cinnamon

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Prep

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Take one cup of warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let it sit for five minutes or until the yeast forms a foam. In a large bowl, combine a ½ cup of warm milk, a ¼ cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it well until it’s all dissolved. Pour the yeast into the large bowl and stir. Add a 1/3 cup of butter, three eggs, and four cups of flour. Beat it until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. Cover it and let it rise for 30 minutes. Check it, stir a little bit more and let it rise for another 30 minutes.

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Now you will make the syrup. Grab a saucepan, mix a ½ cup of honey with a ½ cup of water and bring it to a boil. Let it cool for a bit. Find a large saucepan and heat up two inches of oil. You will be making little balls of dough and fry them until they are golden brown. Once you fried all your batter, serve your loukoumades with drizzled honey syrup and sprinkled cinnamon. Voila! You just made a whole meal with the best Mediterranean cuisine food the world has to offer. Enjoy this simple, classic dish!

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