At its core, the Mediterranean diet is all about fresh, simple, uncomplicated cooking. This philosophy of eating and cooking is not only healthy, but can be easily adapted to ﬁt with our hectic, fast-paced lives. Having a few simple, go-to recipes and techniques under your belt can be your tool for getting dinner on the table fast, without skimping on nutrition or taste.
Salad as a meal—An ordinary salad can be elevated to an enticing meal with just a few simple additions:
1). Master a basic vinaigrette with little more than extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, herbs, sea salt and pepper, and, perhaps, a bit of mustard.
2). Add some protein, such as grilled shrimp, salmon, chicken, or eggs (hard-boiled, soft-boiled, or poached).
3). Add some cooked grains such as brown rice, wheat berries, or farro.
4). Layer on some crunch in the form of roasted pumpkin seeds, toasted almonds or pecans, roasted chickpeas, or pomegranate seeds.
5). Include some bitter or spicy greens, in addition to your standard leaf lettuce, such as radicchio, dandelion and/or arugula for added nutrition and ﬂavor.
En papillote (French for in parchment)— En papillote is a simple and fast method of cooking in which food is placed in a folded pouch (parchment or aluminum foil), sealed, and then baked in the oven. The beauty of this method is that the food comes out super moist, while sealing in the ﬂavors and juices. Anything from ﬁsh and seafood to vegetables to chicken can be prepared en papillote. Prepare the individual pouches ahead of time and when you’re ready to serve, just pop them in the oven. The pouches should be opened at the table, which not only makes for a pleasing presentation, but keeps the food warm until it’s ready to be enjoyed.
One-pot and sheet pan meals—Having fewer pots and pans to clean allows for more time to be dedicated to cooking. Thus, one-pot/pan meals should be part of your cooking repertoire. For example, mussels (or clams) steamed in wine with plenty of garlic, perhaps ﬁnished with a pat of butter and chopped parsley is a classic, fast, economical Mediterranean one-pot meal that comes together in a manner of minutes. As the mussels or clams steam, they exude a briny salinity that tastes of the sea. When their shells pop open, they’re ready to be served.
Sheet pans serve as a tool for quick Mediterranean meals with little clean-up. Fish, seafood, chicken, beef, or pork can be roasted in the oven on a sheet pan, along with any assortment of fresh vegetables (onions, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, olives, capers, etc.) tossed with a generous drizzle of olive oil, herbs (e.g., rosemary, thyme) and/or spices.
Pasta meals—Pasta is the classic healthy meal that can be prepared in the time that it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. Pasta meals can be as simple as pasta with tomatoes (sauce or sliced), prepared in less than 10 or 15 minutes. Pasta is loved by all, including children, and also pairs with other healthy foods such as vegetables, beans, and seafood. Read more about ﬁve good reasons to love pasta in the December newsletter, The Truth About Pasta.
Eggs, anytime—Eggs are extremely versatile and can be easily transformed into quick, healthy meals. For instance, a frittata, an Italian-based egg dish that’s started on the stove-top and ﬁnished in the oven, can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, tastes as good (if not better) served at room temperature, and can be packed with any number of ingredients, including leftovers. Shakshuka is a one-pot egg dish of North African origin in which eggs are poached in a spicy tomato-and-pepper-based sauce. Similarly, menemen is a traditional Turkish dish of just-barely-set scrambled eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, chiles, olive oil, and spices that can be enjoyed any time of day.
Whatever your preferences, Mediterranean meals are a great solution for quick and healthy dishes!
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