Mediterranean Cuisine. Features, recipes
Mediterranean cuisine is not just the sum of the culinary traditions of all the countries that have access to the Mediterranean Sea. It is a special, careful and reverent attitude to food, a serious interest in quality local products and a general balanced diet, which is called the “Mediterranean diet” around the world.
Meanwhile, it is not about any diet.
The diet of Mediterranean inhabitants includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains; they constantly use olive oil and relatively little butter; they regularly eat fish, cheeses and drink wine; finally, they give preference to seasonal local products – very fresh, delicious and fragrant.
It is the overall harmony of the Mediterranean diet that has led UNESCO to list the cuisine of this region as a cultural heritage of mankind.
Mediterranean cuisine includes hundreds of varied dishes. Here are just a few of them that you can easily prepare in your kitchen.
Brodet is a local Croatian variation of the Italian brodetto soup. It is a fish chowder – as thick as a stew. Since ancient times, local housewives have made it from several kinds of fish and seafood, adding olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley. This soup was once made from small “substandard” fish, mixing them together in the fanciest combinations and adding octopus tentacles, small crustaceans, broken oyster shells, clams and seaweed. These days, the ingredient mix varies not only from city to city, but also from house to house. Different coastal towns in Croatia have their own brodetto. You can cook this soup with the universal seasoning VEGETA, which combines the best spices and spicy herbs. This is all the more appropriate because since ancient times they put a lot of spices in brodetto, which advantageously shade and complement the taste of fish broth with olive oil.
Lasagna is a type of Italian pasta: wide flat ribbons of dough up to 35 cm wide. From our Russian point of view, lasagna is a casserole. In any case, no matter how this dish is defined, the essence remains the same: lasagne strips are sprinkled with a variety of fillings and baked. The homeland of lasagna is the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. There, it has long been cooked in the oven in pans without handles, and minced meat and Parmesan cheese are used as toppings. The traditional lasagne bolognese with parmesan, bolognese sauce and béchamel sauce is made in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, in the city of Bologna. But in the neighboring region of Liguria, the local pesto sauce was added to the traditional lasagne. Nowadays, lasagna is popular throughout Italy, and there is a huge variety of options for its filling: the dough is layered with a variety of sauces, meat ragout, different types of cheese, mushrooms, spinach, artichokes. Vegetable lasagna with eggplant, zucchini, endive salad, tomatoes, carrots and kohlrabi is popular in many Italian regions. The taste of traditional products can be effectively supplemented with seasonings. Add to VEGETA’s creamy béchamel sauce, white pepper, grated nutmeg, lemon juice and spicy herbs. When frying the lasagne vegetables in butter, sprinkle them with the universal VEGETA seasoning. We guarantee that everyone who tastes this lasagna will definitely ask for more!
Dolma Greek cuisine is distinguished by its heartiness, the variety of simple rustic dishes and ingenuity in the use of spices. Dolma is very popular among Greeks; it is cooked with vine leaves and minced rice and meat. In general, dolma, in addition to the Greeks, Turks, Lebanese and other inhabitants of the Mediterranean, known almost all the peoples of the Middle East. It is also eaten in Europe, for example, in the Balkans. It is a truly universal international dish! By the way, the term “dolma” is not quite ambiguous: this word is used in the East for stuffed cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers and other stuffed vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini. But, of course, the most popular and known all over the world dolma is primarily stuffing in grape leaves. When you cook the stuffing in heated vegetable oil, frying chopped onions and rice, adding to them a cup of hot water, put chopped herbs, peppers and universal seasoning VEGETA in the pan. The stuffing will turn out amazingly delicious! Wrapping it in grape leaves and stewing in a pot (preferably with butter and lemon juice) you get dolma, which any Greek would appreciate! By the way, grape leaves for dolma can be bought both fresh (at the market) and pickled. Of course, fresh is better. If you have pickled leaves, it’s better to soak them beforehand to get rid of the taste of marinade.
Pleškavica is well known in the Balkans – you can try it on the Mediterranean coast in Croatia and Montenegro, and in Bosnia and Serbia. Pleskaivica is a large chopped cutlet, most often made of a mixture of beef and pork. There are many variants of pleskavica, they differ only in details, however, sometimes not insignificant. In brief, the recipe for this dish looks as follows. Equal parts of beef and pork are taken, they are minced, chopped onions, pepper and salt are added. Afterwards, the force-meat is used to make dumplings, which are then roasted on a grill. One can, however, fry pleskavitsa in a pan as well. It would seem that there is nothing special. But it is only the basis, which without details looks, in general, ordinary. Stinging pepper, minced lard, one or two crushed cloves of garlic are added to the stuffing. You can do something else: add spice VEGETA to spice up the dish. Serve these dumplings with warmed kaimac. Kaymak is slightly salted foam taken from freshly cooked melted cow or sheep milk. Kaymak has a very delicate, slightly salty, creamy taste. In the Balkans, kaimak is incredibly popular. Very often hostesses make it themselves. You can substitute kaymak with a little salted sour cream. It will come out great! By the way, with pleskavitsa, you can prepare a burger, which, in addition to the bun and the pleskavitsa itself, should be supplemented with pickles, sweet mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise (all at once or at choice). In this version, the pleskavica is certainly tastier and more filling than some fast food burger.
Couscous is wheat groats prepared in a special way: ground wheat grains (i.e. semolina) are moistened, rolled into small balls, and dried. Accordingly, couscous is not so much a cereal as a fine paste. In North Africa no poor man’s lunch or a rich wedding can be imagined without couscous. There are many ways to prepare couscous. Traditionally, hand-rolled couscous is steamed. Industrially cooked couscous is most often steamed with boiling water or boiled quickly in boiling water. In most cases, it is topped with olive oil. The most popular recipes with couscous are couscous with meat, fish, seafood, and vegetables. Sweet couscous is also known in the East. It is cooked with dried fruits and nuts, and topped with honey. If you think about cooking couscous with vegetables, add VEGETA universal seasoning and mint to the vegetables while braising. They give a fresh, nuanced and flavorful finish to this simple and hearty dish.
Mediterranean cuisine is the healthiest cuisine in the world. The basis of the Mediterranean diet is fish, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables. Aromatic herbs and olive oil reign supreme in Mediterranean cuisine. Although in many countries Mediterranean dishes have different faces, what they have in common is low calories, beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, and, above all, lightness.
Mediterranean cuisine has “spun” many dishes that are now accepted on tables around the world, such as pizza, snails, spaghetti and Greek salad. Moderate consumption of red wine protects against the development of lifestyle diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis.
Mediterranean Cuisine. General characteristics
Three culinary regions can be distinguished in Mediterranean cuisine: the North African (Morocco in particular), the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey) and the Southern European (Italy, France, Spain).
While southern European Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by the use of aromatic herbs and the consumption of wine, in northern Africa the dishes are expressive and spicy. The way food is prepared and eaten depends largely on the habits of the inhabitants of the country. The common denominator for the various varieties of Mediterranean cuisine is the fact that the inhabitants of Mediterranean countries are famous for their hospitality and passion for cooking. In mild climates, homemade delicacies have an unforgettable flavor that is associated with the abundance of healthy and tasty vegetables that are part of many dishes.
Although the number of fish in the Mediterranean Sea has decreased significantly in recent years, seafood (cuttlefish, octopus) still play an important role in Mediterranean cuisine. They are used to prepare soups, stews and pasta. The most commonly consumed fish are solitary fish, flounder, sea bass and anchovies, rarely swordfish, monkfish, eel. The meat of rabbits, poultry, goats and sheep reigns supreme. Pork is also popular, but beef is relatively rare. Sheep and goats are used as sources of milk for making healthy yogurt and cheeses.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Famous Mediterranean Delicacies
Every country in the Mediterranean basin is known for at least a few distinctive dishes or products. The most popular Greek dishes are feta, gyros, moussaka, tzatziki sauce, moscari and Greek vodka ouzo. Italian delicacies are mostly flour dishes such as spaghetti, lasagna, pizza and Italian cheeses (parmesan, gorgonzola, mozzarella). The most popular French dishes are cheese (e.g., Camembert, Brie, Roquefort), snails, and ratatouille, truffles, Breton crepes, croissants, and pies.
Traditional Spanish dishes include paella, gazpacho (cold tomato-based soup), fabada, hard cheese (especially from La Mancha), sangria (wine with chopped fruit and ice). Moroccan cuisine is distinguished by the internationally popular couscous, but it is not the only dish worthy of attention. Harira (a thick tomato soup to which you can add legumes), lentil soup and lamb kebab are also worth trying.
Mediterranean Cuisine and Health
Mediterranean cuisine, along with Japanese and Korean cuisine, is considered the healthiest menu in the world. More and more nutritionists are urging people to adopt a Mediterranean diet. This is due to the extremely valuable elements contained in the ingredients of these dishes. Fish contains omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and all essential minerals such as iron, phosphorus, iodine, potassium and magnesium can be found in vegetables.
Numerous food additives, particularly garlic and onions, have an antibacterial effect. In Mediterranean cuisine, meat is consumed sporadically, so there is a significant preponderance of plant proteins in these foods. Studies have shown that people in Mediterranean countries are less likely to suffer from heart problems and live longer. In addition, their menus help reduce the incidence of bone disease, strokes and Parkinson’s disease.
Mediterranean temperament on a plate – it’s time to learn the secret to the excellent health of Greeks and Italians
The Mediterranean diet is a good diet that has been confirmed and scientifically proven. It is also universal because it can be used by people from different parts of the world to improve their quality of life.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Seven-country research is a revolutionary discovery
Years of research conducted on populations from 7 countries: Japan, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States and Finland have identified a diet that is the least cardiovascularly burdensome, thereby improving quality of life. Among the countries included in the Seven Countries Study, Greece and Italy had the lowest risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, and the diet of their residents directly influenced this figure.
Proportions of foods eaten in the Mediterranean diet
As a rule, the Mediterranean diet is dominated by fish, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also the kingdom of herbs, cheese, and olive oil. The proportions of the product can be illustrated as follows:
60 percent are carbohydrates . They are at the lowest level of the food pyramid, including legumes, raw cereals, coarse flour, durum wheat pasta, and fruits and vegetables that contain fiber and antioxidants.
Thirty percent are fats. Olive oil dominates, sunflower oil is also used, and mostly for frying – from grape seeds. Olive oil comes in different varieties, depending on the type of olive tree and the region of cultivation.
10 percent proteins are at the top of the pyramid. They are consumed in the form of meat: lamb, goat, veal and poultry, as well as beef and (less often and only in Europe) pork, but mainly fish and seafood, and cheese, especially sheep and goats. Eggs in Mediterranean cuisine are mostly consumed as an ingredient in dishes.
Thus, Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by:
- high consumption of olive oil;
- A high consumption of vegetables, fruits and cereals (mainly bread);
- High consumption of legumes;
- average consumption of dairy products;
- average consumption of alcohol (mainly wine);
- average consumption of fish;
- low consumption of meat and meat products and animal fats.
Studies from around the world show that the Mediterranean diet, used in many populations and on all continents, has been shown to reduce the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and heart attacks by at least 50%. In addition, it has been documented that the overall mortality rate in people with coronary heart disease is significantly lower.
Mediterranean Cuisine: Animal Fats and Olive Oil
Residents of Mediterranean countries are characterized by longevity. This leads us to believe that the diet they use is one of the healthiest in the world. To enjoy health and vitality for a long time, we must first of all limit the consumption of saturated fatty acids (i.e. animal fats), which are a direct cause of atherosclerotic lesions. Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which have beneficial effects on our health and well-being. They reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body while maintaining high levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
Mediterranean cuisine. Plant protein, bread, and wine
Whole grain products are rich in complex carbohydrates containing dietary fiber, through which, like olive oil, they regulate and balance the proportion of cholesterol in the blood. The legumes eaten, which are often found in the Mediterranean diet, are rich in protein, which has normalizing properties for blood pressure. Vegetables and fruits contain many valuable compounds that improve overall body function. The flavonoids in red wine, consumed by Mediterranean residents, protect the cardiovascular system from the harmful effects of free radicals.
The Mediterranean diet is tasty, easy, colorful, and above all, as confirmed by years of research – healthy. Is it a good diet for everyone? That depends on who is trying it.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Italian Cuisine.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Italian Cuisine.
The most common and considered the most delicious of all Mediterranean cuisines is Italian cuisine. It combines the simplicity of dishes with their sophistication. This is achieved by the method of preparation. The dishes are prepared immediately before consumption (ready meals are not stored and not frozen), from completely fresh, high quality products. The main products are vegetables, mainly tomatoes, durum wheat flour, seafood, cheese and olive oil, and, depending on the region, some meats. In Italian cuisine the main spices are herbs: oregano, basil, coriander, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. Italy is a leading producer of excellent quality olive oil.
You don’t eat many soups in Italian cuisine. The most famous is minestrone, the equivalent of our vegetable broth. There are many different pasta dishes, including pasta (pasta) with sauces. Cooking pasta and related sauces is a separate art that is not easy to master, just as it is difficult to make the perfect pizza. Italians love to eat ravioli and tortellini, small dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese, spinach, or shrimp, which are also served with sauces. Excellent Italian desserts are known: tiramisu, panna cotta and especially excellent ice cream, as well as coffee: espresso, cafe latte and cappuccino.
Italian cuisine varies by region, from the refined, elegant northern region to the “raw”, poorer southern region. Northern regions are famous for their excellent risotto with different flavors, in Florence you can eat delicious meat dishes of high quality (the famous steak “Alla Fiorentina”), Naples is the kingdom of pizza, which in this version has the status of a regional EU product. In the south of Italy, pasta with olive oil and garlic (aglio e olio) is more commonly consumed.
Although Italian dishes are healthy, Italians often do not eat healthy food at all. The main Italian meal is in the evening and consists of several dishes. It begins with antipasto, an appetizer such as small peppers baked and stuffed with cheese, Parma ham with melon, etc. This is followed by pasta, risotto, ravioli or soup, and then the main course, usually meat or seafood with added vegetables. Cheese, fruit, desserts, and drinks are served next.
Mediterranean Cuisine. French cuisine
Mediterranean French cuisine is mainly Provençal cuisine. It is famous for its well-known herbs (mixtures in the right proportions), stews of vegetables: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and onions (ratatouille) and a rich use of garlic, olives and anchovies. Provence olive oil is equally famous and delicious. It is used to make aioli sauce, a very garlicky mayonnaise, served with fish and vegetables.
Marseille is famous for its fish soup bouillabaisse. It consists of several kinds of fish, and each restaurant has its own recipe, which is better kept secret.
Fish and seafood are very often eaten in Provence. Anchovies after being chopped are mixed with garlic and spices and served on croutons as an appetizer.
Mutton should not be overlooked. Especially meat from the region of Sisteron, where sheep graze on meadows of rosemary and thyme, is highly prized by gourmets and very expensive because of its unique flavor.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Spanish Cuisine
The Mediterranean provinces of Spain are Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia. Valencia is famous for its best paella, a rice dish with various additives, such as rabbit or chicken meat, seafood, mussels and, of course, vegetables. Paella is served in the same dish in which it was cooked.
Gazpacho is a Spanish cold soup. It is made from chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, oil, water and wine vinegar, mixed and seasoned to taste, with a few larger pieces of the same vegetables added. Everything should be well chilled.
For dessert, try crema catalana (Catalan cream). It’s a sweet cream reminiscent of crème brûlée in French cuisine.
Mediterranean Cuisine. Greek Cuisine.
It is the cuisine of the European-Asian fringe, combining the flavors of both continents. One of the most famous, typical dishes of Greek cuisine is dolmades – vine leaves in which minced lamb with rice is wrapped. In addition, moussaka, a casserole made of potatoes, lamb and roasted eggplant, is very eagerly eaten. Various mixed salads with sheep cheese, tomatoes and olives are popular.
Mediterranean cuisine is a term that encompasses the cuisine of different countries. For this reason, it is very diverse. This means that everyone will find something for themselves in Mediterranean cuisine. It is worth including elements of this cuisine in your diet, it is sure to be good for everyone’s health.