The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, and it dates back to the 1960s. The diet is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and olive oil. The diet is said to have several health benefits, including weight loss and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. As with most diets, half the battle is finding things to eat and prepare easily within the diet parameters. If you’re ready to start a new way of eating and want a jump-start, these seven super-quick Mediterranean diet recipes will set you off on the right foot.
A crucial part of the Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy carbohydrates. It’s a bonus if that heart-healthy carb also comes with more fiber, antioxidants, and cholesterol-lowering benefits than others. Enter Kamut, a wheat that is considered a superfood and an excellent grain for a Mediterranean grain bowl. This recipe was designed with salmon as the protein, but you can do it with baked chicken or shrimp, and it will be just as delicious. You can also mix up the veggies and herbs to your tastes, especially since avocado is technically not Mediterranean.
When paired with vegetables and olive oil, a shrimp mixture can be added to whole grain pasta, tossed with your favorite grain, or just enjoyed with a fork. Cooking everything on a sheet pan is a great time-saver since it makes cleanup a breeze. You can also prep and prepare a whole batch of this and portion it out for the rest of the week to be added to heart-healthy carbs or a bed of your favorite leafy greens. If you don’t like shrimp, you can substitute chicken or a different fish and get the same results. The key to this recipe is cutting all of the ingredients to a size that allows everything to cook at the same time.
Couscous is crushed durum wheat semolina that has been formed into small spheres. There are different sizes and varieties and slightly different flavors depending on the region the couscous comes from. Couscous is a pantry staple for many people since it can take the place of rice or noodles in your favorite dishes. When used as the base of a salad, couscous transforms the dish into a heartier meal. Chop vegetables, add chickpeas and feta cheese, and top with some fresh herbs and a lemon-olive oil dressing, and you have a Mediterranean meal that will fill you up but not weigh you down. As with all of these recipes, the ingredients are somewhat flexible, so you can swap out the couscous for a different carb if you’d like, like orzo.
Dried herbs, a hearty green, and tomatoes make this chicken dish well-rounded and delicious. The fact that it cooks in one pan makes this dish easy on cleanup and, therefore, a quick go-to for a healthy weeknight meal. You can portion out leftovers for dinners throughout the week, too. If you want some carbs with your meal, boil some quinoa while the chicken and veggies cook, and you’ll still have a complete meal in under 30 minutes. You could substitute a hearty fish for the chicken in this dish; you’ll just have to be careful not to break up the fish once it is cooked.
Pork isn’t featured in Mediterranean cooking often, but everyone can grow tired of chicken and salmon. One of the downfalls of sticking strictly to any particular diet is the lack of variety, so it’s nice to see a Mediterranean-style dish that uses pork. Of course, you can substitute a different protein if you don’t like pork. The key to this dish is olive oil and feta cheese, but feel free to adjust or experiment as you see fit. Add lemon juice and some fresh herbs at the end to completely transform the flavors of the dish.
Though you won’t find a ton of Mediterranean recipes with red meat in them, this one is a definite keeper. This dish can be gratifying if you have a garden and utilize the tomatoes and herbs from your yard (learn to grow tomatoes in pots from our guide). One of the best parts of this recipe is that it uses flat iron or top sirloin steak, which are super affordable cuts of meat. The use of fresh herbs and garlic make this dish flavorful without tons of added fat. You can grill your steak outside if the weather is right, but if not, a hot skillet inside will do just fine. Add the steak and topping to a bed of hearty greens or a pile of grains to fix a well-rounded meal.
Lentils are the original super grain and have twice as much iron and protein as quinoa. Lentils offer a more hearty and comforting substance to any dish. This dish almost eats like a stew and is packed with protein and flavor. The recipe is written vegetarian, but you can add any meats or veggies you’d like to the base recipe. The tomatoes and yogurt are optional, so feel free to adjust according to your taste.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly veggies and grains with proteins added for balance. These seven recipes can be used as a base for hundreds of other flavor combinations. Once you have the basic formats down, you can change the proteins, veggies, and herbs so you never get bored. Be sure to store leftovers and use them with different grains or greens, so you don’t feel like you’re eating the same thing all week. Good olive oil and fresh ingredients make all of these dishes satisfying and fresh.
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