Cooking with Mediterranean flavours
The Mediterranean diet is said to be one of the healthiest in the world, so how can you inject some of its sunny, nourishing qualities into your own meals?
We’ve put together some of the essential ingredients you should fill your cupboard with so that you can enjoy the flavours of the Mediterranean all year round.
Many Mediterranean recipes make use of olive oil so be sure to pick up a quality brand. Extra virgin oil is the best of the bunch, but ordinary virgin oil is a close second. Keep an eye out for bottles that say they’ve been blended, though, as they aren’t quite the same.
A variety of vinegars
Whether it’s mixed with olive oil for a salad dressing or used to give a sauce a little more flavour, vinegar is a vital component. Balsamic vinegar is the classic choice but a good supply of red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar and white wine vinegar will come in handy.
Ground cumin and paprika
Adding that slightly sweet zing to many Mediterranean classics, these are two spices that you should be sure to have on hand when you’re whipping up a masterpiece. As perfect in dishes as they are sprinkled on simple trays of roasted vegetables.
Beans and legumes
Fill your cupboards with a good selection of beans and legumes, perfect for stews and soups. Pick up canned or dried chickpeas, cannellini beans, broad beans and French lentils.
Black and cayenne pepper
You’ll want your dishes to have a little kick and the perfect way to do it is with plenty of ground black pepper and hot and flavourful cayenne pepper.
Concentrated tomato products
Tomatoes are a big part of the perfect Mediterranean diet and you’ll need plenty to choose from. In addition to fresh tomatoes, many recipes will call for tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes.
Rice and pasta
Many dishes are perfectly complemented with these simple carbs and if you want to make your meals even healthier, switch for brown rice and wholemeal pasta.
Fennel, turmeric and ginger
Adding sweet and complex flavours to all sorts of dishes, these are a few of the spices you’ll want to keep on hand when you’re experimenting with Mediterranean flavours.
No Mediterranean feast would be complete without a few olives. As perfect as an appetiser as they are as a component to any pasta dish or cous cous, they’re a great way to add a big taste quickly.
Keep a bag of frozen spinach in your freezer and you’ll always have a way to add some good, green vegetables to your meals. From spinach and feta pies to gorgeous stews and soups, it’s a flexible and healthy must have.
Basil, oregano and parsley
For the light, fresh flavours of this excellent cuisine, you’ll want to make sure you have some basil, oregano and parsley on hand. The fresher the better, but frozen or dried herbs are a good substitute.
What’s your favourite Mediterranean treat?
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