As you explore the Mediterranean Diet, you may encounter some unfamiliar words in menus or in recipes. We don’t want anyone to pass up trying a new food simply because they don’t know what it is – so we’ve included this glossary of food terms for all types of foods, spices, dishes, and more.
Arborio Rice: [ar-BOR-ee-o] A short-grain rice whose starch helps turn risotto creamy.
Arugula: [ah-ROO-gah-lah] A zesty salad green with a peppery, mustard ﬂavor. Also called “rocket.”
Baba Ghannouge: [ba-ba-gha-NOOJH] Roasted eggplant mixed with lemon juice, tahini, and spices; often served as a dip.
Bouillabaisse: [BWEE-ya-base] A traditional ﬁsh stew from France’s Provençe region, including ﬁsh, shellﬁsh and vegetables such as leeks, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.
Bruschetta: [brew-SKETT-a] An Italian dish made by topping toasted bread with olive oil and various accompaniments like tomatoes, basil, garlic, eggplant, artichokes, and cheese. Often served as an appetizer.
Couscous: [COOS-coos] A grain-like food made by rolling ﬂour and liquid between the ﬁngers to create little “pearls.” Typically enjoyed as a base for stews and other foods in North Africa, couscous can be made from wheat or many other grains.
Dukkah: [DUE-kuh] A crumbly mixture of nuts, herbs and seeds. Bread can be dipped in olive oil and then in dukkah.
Falafel: [fuh-LAH-fel] A Middle Eastern dish made from ground chickpeas (or fava beans) and spices that have been shaped into patties and fried (or baked). Flavonoids: A type of water-soluble antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and some drinks (like red wine and tea) that have been found to protect against heart disease and cancer.
Fattoush: [Fah-TOOSH] A Mediterranean salad made with tomatoes, vegetables, and torn-up pieces of bread.
Feta Cheese: [FEH-ta] A type of cheese, cured in brine, popular in Greece, Turkey, and throughout the Middle East.
Gazpacho: [gahz-PAH-cho] A cold tomato-based soup made with raw vegetables, originating in southern Spain.
Hummus/Hommos: [HUM-us] A thick paste made from chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice and garlic; served as a dip or spread. It is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and ﬁber.
Meze / Mezze: [MEZ-ay] An array of small dishes served as an appetizer or meal in many areas of the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Moudammas: [MOO dah mess] Cooked fava beans; a popular dish in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Moujaddara: [moo-JUD-a-rah] A popular Arabic dish made of pureed lentils and spices.
Mousakka: [MOO-sah-kah] A famous eggplant casserole popularly made in the Middle East and Greece.
Paella: [pie-YAY-ya] A classic Spanish dish made with rice and seafood.
Pasta e Fagioli: [PAH-stah ay fah-JOE-lee] A traditional Italian soup with pasta, beans and vegetables.
Pesto: [PESS-toe] A paste made of greens, olive oil and other ingredients. While pesto from basil and pine-nuts is perhaps best known, it’s fun to try other combinations, too, such as spinach and walnuts.
Pita: [PEA-tah] A ﬂat pocket bread typical of the Middle East.
Ratatouille: [rah-tah-TWEE] Not just the name of a movie! Ratatouille combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers, olive oil and herbs in a delightful stew.
Tagine: [tah-JHEEN] A slow-cooked North African stew, named after the conical clay pot in which it is cooked.
Tahini/Tahina: [tah-HEE-nee] A sesame seed paste used in several Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghannouge; It is an excellent source of calcium and potassium.
Tapenade: [tah-peh-NAHD] A thick Provençal spread most commonly made from puréed black olives, capers, and anchovies; however, several other ingredients like roasted red peppers and artichokes can be used.
Tzatziki: [tsah-TSEEK-kee] A Greek and Turkish sauce made of yogurt and cucumbers, with olive oil, garlic, salt, and other optional ingredients such as mint or lemon juice.