Traditional New Year’s meals around the world celebrate abundance and prosperity, things we all want in the coming year. Abundance doesn’t have to mean gluttony, however. This New Year’s, try indulging in the diversity of color, ﬂavors, and foods of the Mediterranean diet. For more inspiration, use our step-by-step guide to celebrating New Year’s with the Mediterranean diet in mind.
A Very Mediterranean New Year
1. Incorporate Mediterranean customs into your celebrations, and featuring foods that you’ll feel good about eating. Here are a few ideas:
POMEGRANATES. Pomegranates are a Greek symbol of good luck and fertility, and it’s customary for families to hang a pomegranate in the entryway of their home through the twelve days of Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, one lucky family member gets to smash the pomegranate to reveal its seeds. The more seeds that scatter, the better. For more, check out 12 GREAT WAYS TO USE POMEGRANATES
LENTILS. In Italy, lentils are thought to bring wealth in the new year because they resemble little coins. They are usually served with pork sausage, sliced into rounds of course! For more, check out 12 GREAT WAYS TO USE LENTILS
GRAPES. It’s customary in Spain to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, one for every chime of the clock, and for each month of the coming year. A sweeter grape could mean you’ll have a better-than-average month. For more, check out 12 GREAT WAYS TO USE GRAPES
2. Splurge on a Mediterranean specialty food. Go out with a bang this New Year’s and pick up a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil, dried ﬁgs, or an imported Mediterranean cheese. They are a fun and much-needed break from decadent holiday desserts, and they make great party gifts.
3. Serve small plates, buﬀet-style, at your New Year’s Eve party. Whip up seasonal dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and that taste great at room temperature, so you’ll be able to relax and socialize with family and friends.
Sharing small dishes also makes the dining experience more communal, casual, and fun. That’s what the Mediterranean lifestyle is all about. Try these recipe ideas:
• Stuﬀed grape leaves
• Preserved roasted red peppers, artichokes, and mushrooms
• Spanish tortilla, cut into bite-sized wedges
• Dates stuﬀed with cheese and almonds
• Shrimp, chicken, and lamb kebabs, served with tzatziki
• A winter salad made with seasonal winter vegetables and fruits like oranges, grapefruit, or radicchio; topped with dried fruit and nuts; and dressed with rich balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil
• Tasty dips — hummus, muhammara, etc. — with whole grain pita, warmed in the oven
4. Bring on the bubbly. Welcome the new year by trying a Mediterranean sparkling wine like Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco.
Two great alternatives to champagne, cava tends to be a bit drier while prosecco is sweeter and fruitier. They’re both perfect options if you want to break away from the classic this New Year’s.
5. Ask guests to bring snacks for all-night grazing, like mixed olives, or fresh fruit or nuts for a cheese plate. Get everyone involved in the Mediterranean theme, the more the merrier!
We have an entire year ahead of us, full of possibilities to do things better, but let’s not forget to enjoy this New Year’s celebration and close the year on a positive note. Relish the meal and the company, in true Mediterranean style.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy New Year, from all of us at Oldways.
Lara Bertoia, Oldways Mediterranean Foods Alliance program manager