About Mediterranean Cooking

Herb Crusted Chicken
Tomato, Avocado and Toasted Almond Salad with Mint


Tips to Mediterranean Meal Success

Mediterranean Mediterranean cuisine offers many options. It's light, vibrant and adaptable, so it can be eaten every day. It's also a little mysterious because the more you experiment with Mediterranean recipes, the more variations you'll discover.
Mediterranean Cooking
  • Focuses more on sautéing, brazing and roasting then frying, although some foods may be fried in olive oil.
  • Uses sauces that tend to be vinaigrette (a combination of olive oil, an acid and spices), natural juices or vegetable-based.
  • Offers more options for serving either hot or cold. Butter and cream, traditionally used in American cuisine, congeal when cold, while olive oil maintains its smoothness.
  • Focuses on combined flavors. American cuisine separates meats, vegetables and starches into main and side dishes, but into main and side dishes, but many Mediterranean meals combine foods into one dish.
  • Involves interchangeable ingredients, and amounts can be varied to adjust intensity based on taste preferences.
Stocking the Perfect Mediterranean Pantry

For many, Mediterranean cuisine conjures up romantic images with exotic, foreign flavors. However, it's a misconception that ingredients in delicious Mediterranean recipes are difficult to fine and expensive. In fact, you may already have many items in your pantry. If not, a quick trip to the local store provide everything you need to "go Mediterranean."

Here are some tips on stocking your own Mediterranean pantry:

  • Plant-based, minimally processed foods such as pastas, grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of Mediterranean cuisine. Stock your pantry with plenty of couscous, rice (basmati, white, brown or arborio), pasta, white beans, lentils, chickpeas and barley.
  • Olive oil is the principal fat in Mediterranean cooking. Using olive oil to replace other fats and oils gives your recipes a lighter, cleaner flavor.
  • Wine in moderation with meals in an integral part of traditional Mediterranean lifestyle.
  • Spices allow a chef to vary the intensity of a dish according to taste preferences. Stock up on the basics, including coriander, cumin, fresh pepper, saffron, cinnamon, ginger, tumeric, clove cayenne pepper, fennel and salt.
  • Herbs, preferable fresh, add aromatic smells and flavors to Mediterranean cuisine. Use herbs such as parsley, mint, oregano, chives, basil, thyme or rosemary in your cooking.
  • Other essentials for your pantry: olives, nuts (especially almonds), dried chili peppers, dried tomatoes, capers, dates, garlic, lemon juice and yogurt.
  • Experiment with fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Although a diet high in protein is uncommon in Mediterranean regions, recipes are flexible, allowing for chefs to focus on taste preferences.

Herb Crusted Chicken

Herb Crusted Chicken

This is a smooth, sauceless dish, complemented by Chardonnay or Sangiovese di Romagna.

  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme, rosemary or sage (or a combination of two)
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 skinned and boned chicken breasts halves
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a plate, combine bread crumbs, herbs, crushed red pepper, slat and pepper to taste. Mix well. Brush smooth side of chicken breasts with egg white. Press crumb mixture onto coated side of chicken breasts (Refrigerate, if not cooking immediately). Heat olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof, non-stick skillet. sauté chicken, crust side down, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gently turn chicken; cook 2 minutes longer. Place skillet in oven until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Makes 4 serving
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Tomato, Avocado and Toasted Almond Salad with Mint


Chardonnay, Soave or Sangiovese di Romagna are delicious wines to serve with this refreshing salad.

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 sprigs mint, julienned
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted and seasoned with salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • sprigs of mint for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in scallions and julienned mint. Set aside. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices; divide evenly among 4 salad plates. Peel avocado, discard pit. Cut into 1/8-inch slices; sprinkle with remaining lemon juice. On each plate, fan some of the avocado slices across tomatoes; sprinkle with almonds. Drizzle dressing over salad; sprinkle with cracked pepper. Garnish with mint sprigs.

  • Makes 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Provided by Bolla Wines and Colavita Olive Oil

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified February 2007

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