The Mediterranean region encompasses Southern Europe, Northern Africa, parts of the Middle East and Western Asia. Mediterranean cuisine is diverse, surprisingly healthy, and 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 holy trinity of Mediterranean cuisine.
Entrée: Mediterranean Cuisine Salad
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Feta cheese (buy low-fat for bonus health points or get Parmesan, if you don’t like feta)
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine (or apple vinegar, if you are invested in your sobriety)
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, pour the dressing over the salad and toss it thoroughly. Voila! Super quick, easy, and delicious!
Main Course: Maghreb Lamb with Rice
Two large onions
Two heads of garlic
Four pounds of lamb
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 herbs and slices of garlic. Rub some olive oil onto the lamb, again generously and thoroughly.
Now, sprinkle 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.
Butter (aka Julia Child’s favorite ingredient, but if you want to be healthier you can use olive oil instead)
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Find a medium casserole and coat it with butter, or a vegetable spray. Dice the sweet onions and pour them in the casserole 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 to the oven and bake it for approximately 30 minutes. 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 and the parsley. Cover the casserole with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Two packages of active dry yeast
Take one cup 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 ½ cup warm milk, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it well until it’s all dissolved. Pour the yeast into the large bowl and stir. Add 1/3 cup 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.
Now you will make the syrup, grab a saucepan, mix ½ cup 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 food the world has to offer. Enjoy!