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Explore the flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine

Published on:
July 27, 2021
Flavours of Mediterranean - Nosta restaurant Cork

Mediterranean cuisine is rich in fresh produce and diverse flavours. It can be traced back to the Age of Exploration when sailors first discovered the flavours of other continents. This region became a global hub for spices which led to an extensive array of dishes that are now recognised as some of the most celebrated on earth.

With a perfect climate, diverse culinary cultures, and various fresh spices, the Mediterranean cuisine has plenty of delicious and healthy foods to offer. Not surprisingly, dishes from this region keep growing popular by the day. 

If you are on a culinary tour and wish to sample some of these celebrated cuisines, herein are some most loved dishes you shouldn't miss out on.

Pizza

Mediterranean Pizza

You cannot talk about Mediterranean cuisines without mentioning the region's crispy pizza with heaps of fresh veggie toppings. It is a lot more different from the ordinary pepperoni, sausage, and cheese pizzas sold in food outlets.

This type comprises whole-wheat crust (some recipes use the typical pizza crust), olive oil, artichokes, feta cheese, fresh parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, shredded fresh mozzarella, and red onion. It is spiced up with black pepper, salt, thyme, and dried basil. 

The Mediterranean pizza isn't too cheesy, and it comes with heaps of veggie toppings. You can take it as a complete meal or take it alongside a Mediterranean salad side dish. 

Moussaka

Mediterranean Moussaka

Moussaka, a meat sauce with layers of eggplant, has been around for several decades. It is served in almost all taverns in Greece, and households prepare it during special occasions. Reason? It is deliciously creamy, juicy, and filling. It is easy to prepare, just in case you get addicted. 


It is made from ground meat sauce, sliced eggplants, potatoes, and cheese-based topping. Some recipes spice this comfort delicacy with finely chopped onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt, cinnamon, paprika, thyme, and black pepper.


This Greece delicacy has three distinctive layers, each cooked separately. It has a bottom layer with tomato-doused ground meat, a top layer with baked or fried eggplant with custard, and a middle layer with sliced potatoes.

Falafel

Mediterranean Falafel

A popular dish in Israel, Lebanon, and Egypt, Falafel isn't just crunchy, savoury, and satisfying. But, it is also healthy. It is high in dietary fibre, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins. Falafel has fewer calories.
It is prepared from chickpea or fava beans, chickpea flour, chopped parsley, red onions, diced tomatoes, baking soda, and olive oil. The mixture is blended coarsely and formed into balls. Afterwards, the chickpea balls are deep-fried or oven-baked to give them a crispy exterior and soft interior.
Falafel is often sold as street food or served as meze before the main course. These crispy chickpea balls are sometimes served as a main course topped with fresh veggie salad or served in pita bread. The balls are served hot.  

Couscous

Mediterranean Couscous

Couscous pasta is a pantry staple in North Africa countries like Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Since it is super quick to cook, you can hardly miss it in other Mediterranean regions.
This pasta is made from semolina and wheat flour tossed on a pan to form tiny balls. It has a mild, neutral, slightly nutty flavour and a course or chewy texture. It is a great side dish for meats, fresh salads, broths, sauces, stews, and braises.
There are endless ways of cooking couscous. It can be simmered in lots of water and then added to soups and stews. As well, couscous can be cooked like rice and mixed with salad, nuts, or fruits.

Hummus

Mediterranean Hummus
Hummus is a tasty dip made from cooked chickpeas, tahini, parsley, roasted garlic, water, canola oil, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. These ingredients are pureed to form a smooth, creamy broth.
Hummus is often served as a dip, sauce, or spread for crackers, pita chips, salads, sandwiches, shawarma, pasta, lamb chops, and bread. Also, you can garnish it with paprika or sumac and take it on its own.
Though made from chickpeas, Hummus' taste isn't close to the grain. It has rich garlicky, nutty, zesty, and umami flavours. Its texture is similar to that of mayonnaise and other typical creamy spreads.

Dolma

Mediterranean Dolma
There is no doubt that Mediterranean natives love natural cuisines. Dolma is a depiction of their unsurpassed love for healthy food. It is a mixture of rice, meat, and several fresh herbs stuffed into grape leaves and then boiled in a lemony broth.
Dolma's flavour differs from region to region. As well, the flavour depends on the herbs used to spice the rice and meat mixture. Nonetheless, the grape leaves have a lingering wine-like taste with a touch of mint or dill flavour. Dolma is served warm as an appetiser. 
It is Time to Start Your Culinary Tour
Mediterranean foods are entirely different from most cuisines. Instead of focusing on palatability, they place more emphasis on nutritional and health benefits. No wonder many people wish to adopt Mediterranean foods into their regular diet.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of food is Mediterranean food?

The Mediterranean diet focuses more on healthy eating than anything else. It contains lots of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats. It includes limited portions of red meat, wine, sugar, and dairy products.

What is the best Mediterranean food?

With foods from 21 countries, the Mediterranean region offers several cuisines, each with a distinct taste, nutritional profile, and flavour. As such, you can hardly single out one food as the best. 
All in all, Mediterranean Pizza is among the most consumed Mediterranean food. Perhaps, we would argue that it is the best Mediterranean food since many people in and out of this region love it. 
Unlike ordinary pizza, the Mediterranean version contains many fresh veggies, natural spices, and little cheese. It excludes sugar, processed meat, and the artificial flavours used in ordinary pizza. 

What is a typical Mediterranean dinner?

A typical Mediterranean dinner contains lots of legumes, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, herbs, nuts, and bread. It may have moderate portions of poultry, dairy, red meat, and red wine.

What are Mediterranean flavours?

When it comes to flavouring food, the Mediterranean natives use spices, herbs, salt, and olive oil. The common herbs and spices used in Mediterranean food include paprika, mint, basil, cumin, dill, mint, thyme, fennel, turmeric, and parsley. 

What is a typical Mediterranean breakfast?

A typical Mediterranean breakfast is based on foods prepared from whole grains, fruits, and dairy. Since there is no defined breakfast dish, you can take any of your most favourite. For instance, you can take eggs, whole-grain bread paired with avocado, a whole-grain bagel with hummus, or an Omelette. 

Is Mediterranean food the same as Middle Eastern?

The Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods have lots of similarities. Both foods use locally available spices to enhance flavour, emphasising wholesomeness, freshness, and health. Some popular Mediterranean foods are also popular in the Middle Eastern.
However, both regions use different culinary procedures to prepare their meals. As well, the Middle Eastern part doesn't limit the intake of red meat.

Is hummus Mediterranean?

Historical records show that hummus originated from Egypt, one of the countries in the Mediterranean basin. Ancient Egyptians consumed hummus as a mixture of sesame, chickpeas, lemon, and garlic.

Is Mediterranean food spicy?

Mediterranean foods often contain lots of organic spices like sumac, bay leaf, mint, cumin, tarragon, turmeric, garlic, cloves, pepper, thyme, fennel, parsley paprika. That's what gives the region's veggies, grains, legumes, and seafood a distinctive taste.

What is a Mediterranean herb?

Technically, a Mediterranean herb refers to the spices whose leaves are used to enhance food flavour. They include thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, oregano, basil, lavender, dill, chives, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, fennel, chervil, saffron, and savoury.

What is a typical Mediterranean lunch?

Like dinner and breakfast, a traditional Mediterranean lunch contains nuts, veggies, legumes, fruits, seeds, and some moderate amounts of seafood. You can take any food prepared from these ingredients. Occasionally, you can take a glass of wine and top up your dishes with some reasonable measure of cheese.

What qualifies as Mediterranean food?

Mediterranean food is any traditional dish associated with the European and North Africa countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The foods are usually made with native legumes, seafood, nuts, fruits, spices, and herbs.
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