The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that features foods and dishes commonly found in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Though the specific meals in these countries aren't exactly the same, the ingredients used follow similar guidelines: most foods are plant-based rather than animal-based and the majority of fats are healthy fats such as those found in fish, olives, and nuts.
In general, seafood, poultry, beans, and eggs are more common on the Mediterranean diet menu than red meat and sugar-filled foods. It's a way of eating that speaks to the terrain, culture, and what's available, and what's been around for millennia.
Often, the Mediterranean diet is touted as a healthy way of eating, and it's something many people all over the world have picked up on. Think foods such as olives and olive oil, fresh fish, tomatoes, chicken, cucumber, eggplant, chickpeas, lemon, and garlic. There are no processed foods on the Mediterranean diet, and most ingredients are freshly made and/or sourced locally.
Using all the principles and ideas behind what makes the diet so successful, here are 25 recipes broken down by course to plan the ultimate Mediterranean diet feast. To your health!
01 of 25
Tomato Basil Hummus
APPETIZERS: Make a spread of nibbles for your next Mediterranean-style dinner party. Dips made with eggplant, Greek yogurt, and chickpeas are an easy and popular option, and all can be served with cut vegetables or pita chips. For example, this tomato basil hummus. Serve this tangy hummus with fresh carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, and radishes for a light and satisfying appetizer.
02 of 25
Moroccan Olives with Harissa
APPETIZERS: A dish of marinated olives graces many a table in Mediterranean countries. They are simple to make and can help curb hunger until dinner.
03 of 25
Greek Eggplant Dip
APPETIZERS: Another great dip with ties to the Mediterranean, this version features eggplant as the main ingredient. It's great with pita chips or any crispy cut vegetables.
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APPETIZERS: This spicy feta dip is one of the instances where cheese is the star of the Mediterranean diet. In general, this diet doesn't have a lot of dairy, but a hard cheese like feta is okay if eaten in moderation.Continue to 5 of 25 below.
05 of 25
Za'atar Pita Chips
APPETIZERS: Add something crunchy and filling to the appetizer spread like these easy-to-make pita chips. There are only three ingredients: pita, olive oil, and za'atar seasoning.
06 of 25
Greek Egg-Lemon Chicken Soup
- STARTERS: Really get the meal started with healthy salads and soups that feature ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, olives, fresh lettuce, lemon, garlic, and more. For example, avgolemono, this soup lets lemon do the talking with nuances of carrot, onion, celery, chicken, and eggs. It's a tangy, balanced dish that has a unique richness.
07 of 25
Turkish Shepherd's Salad
STARTERS: The basis of this chunky salad is tomato, which gets mixed with peppers (hot or mild), feta, and cucumber. Add some olives as a garnish and serve with any meal.
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STARTERS: Hearty and rich, this Greek soup features lentils, tomatoes, garlic, and red wine vinegar, which gives it a pleasing brightness.Continue to 9 of 25 below.
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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
STARTERS: Chickpeas lend a protein punch to this salad. There is no lettuce involved—just chunks of feta, crunchy peppers, fresh parsley, onion, and tomato.
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Greek Salad With Lettuce and Lemon Garlic Dressing
STARTERS: This is a simple salad that features feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, and crisp lettuce. The dressing is made with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic, which ties all the fresh foods together.
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Baked Mediterranean Rice
SIDE DISHES: Add an herby side dish to the next Mediterranean feast, from roasted vegetables to pasta to protein-packed grains. These dishes are a good way to expand on the flavors of these regions. Rice is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, and this culmination of herbs, cheeses, tomatoes, and spinach make for a hearty side that could also double as the main course with the addition of grilled fish or marinated chicken.
12 of 25
Fava Bean Stew
SIDE DISHES: Though the name of the recipe says "stew," this is more of a side dish. Chockfull of stewed tomatoes and fava beans, it's a high-protein food that fits in perfectly with the Mediterranean diet.Continue to 13 of 25 below.
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Israeli Couscous With Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds
SIDE DISHES: This semolina-based pasta has more of a chew than the smaller Moroccan-style couscous, which helps it hold up to the plump cranberries and toasted almonds. Make it the day of the feast or ahead of time since it stores and travels well.
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Vegetarian Quinoa Salad
SIDE DISHES: Packed with hearty-healthy kalamata olives, fresh vegetables, and nutrient-filled quinoa, this salad is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. Plus it goes with just about any protein served as the main course.
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Mediterranean Pasta Salad
SIDE DISHES: Pasta is eaten in small quantities, especially when paired with tons of fresh herbs and vegetables. This side dish can be made in advance and served cold.
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Moroccan Tuna Pizza With Vegetables and Olives
MAIN COURSE: A main course in the Mediterranean diet can include a slew of lean, high-protein foods like seafood, poultry, and eggs. This pizza is done Mediterranean style and features bell peppers, two kinds of olives, mushrooms, and canned tuna. It's simple and fun to make.Continue to 17 of 25 below.
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MAIN COURSE: These can be made as the main course or an appetizer. Either way, the chunks of marinated chicken, grilled peppers, and onions are the perfect protein boost for any meal. Cool the sizzling kabob with tzatziki, a cucumber and yogurt sauce that works as a dip or sauce.
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Grilled Mediterranean-Spiced Lamb Chops
MAIN COURSE: Though red meat isn't eaten as much as other proteins, lamb is a staple in many diets across the Mediterranean. These flavorful lamb chops are a great addition to a meal.
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Garlic and Rosemary Pork Roast
MAIN COURSE: Pork, which does make an appearance in many countries along the Mediterranean, is also eaten from time to time. Cooked in heart-healthy olive oil, this pork roast works perfectly as a main course for a Mediterranean-style meal. The garlic and rosemary give it an extra flavor that helps tie in other foods and flavors highlighted in this diet.
20 of 25
Moroccan Chicken With Preserved Lemon and Olives
MAIN COURSE: Enjoy the briny, bright and savory notes of this dish which features chicken as the main protein. Like many Mediterranean dishes, there is a handful of fresh herbs and a lot of warming spices mixed in.Continue to 21 of 25 below.
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Garlic Shrimp & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
MAIN COURSE: These shrimp get a garlic kick that goes great with the sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes.
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DESSERT:Most desserts contain honey and feature nuts, dried fruit, and Greek yogurt. However, a bit of milk and granulated sugar do pop up here and there. Baklava traditionally uses honey and nuts to add sweetness to the dessert, and so does this version. It also incorporates cream cheese, which gives the treat a tangy flavor and creamy texture.
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Olive Oil Cake
DESSERT: Using olive oil in a dessert makes it a shoo-in for the Mediterranean diet. This version also speaks to the region thanks to orange and lemon zest.
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Raspberry Frozen Yogurt
DESSERT: Fruit and yogurt are often eaten as a dessert in Mediterranean countries. This recipe turns that combination into a cooling frozen yogurt with just a little sugar.Continue to 25 of 25 below.
25 of 25
Cardamom "Apple Pie" Yogurt
DESSERT: Though sugar isn't something often consumed in the Mediterranean diet, it can be eaten in moderation. Greek yogurt is a popular ingredient in this diet, and it gets a bit of sweetness in this recipe by adding honey and apples.