Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food
Mediterranean Every Day embraces a style of cooking that celebrates flavor with a relaxed, flexible attitude. It’s simple enough for a mid-week meal, but never out of place for a weekend gathering with friends. Beyond the recipes, this is a book that teaches how to build a wholesome, well-stocked pantry. Start off with an introduction to the Mediterranean style of cooking and then choose your own adventure:
Three-Ingredient (or Less) Snacks and Cocktails: Whether it’s a pre-dinner snack you crave or a simple cocktail to shake up for friends, you’ll find easy and fun ideas like Smoky White Bean Hummus, Za’atar Pistachios, and Honeyed Prosecco.
Salads and Soups: Enjoy creative salads like The Easiest Arugula Salad, Smoked Salmon Greek Salad, Peak-Summer Panzanella, and a must-try Niçoise. Hearty soups include Lemon Parmesan Soup with Beans and Greens and Roasted Greek Tomato Soup.
Beans, Grains, and Bready Things: This non-traditional chapter features a variety of main dish–worthy recipes that can also be served as sides. Celebrate the seasons with a Spicy Broccoli Rabe and Chickpea Skillet, Lentil Fritters with Herbed Yogurt Dip, a Cheesy Brussels Sprout and Farro Bake, and risotto ideas for winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Colorful Pastas: Who doesn’t love a diet that lets you eat pasta? Enjoy feel-good pastas that are heavy on vegetables. Recipes include Brown Butter Tortellini with Spinach and Hazelnuts, Melted Broccoli Pasta with Capers and Anchovies, Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Swordfish, Israeli Couscous Salad with Herbs, Green Olives and Pistachios, and a No-Cook Summer Tomato Pasta.
Gathering Dishes: The chapter’s name says it all! Whether it’s Tuesday or Saturday, and whether you’re cooking for just your family or a handful of friends, gather around Salmon in Crazy Water, Thyme Pesto Roast Chicken with Crispy Potatoes, Roasted Cod Saltimbocca, and Baked Chicken Milanese with Lemony Escarole.
Desserts: Seasonal and fresh is at the heart of this chapter. Recipes include Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, Apricot Almond Clafoutis, Rosé-Soaked Peaches, and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake.
From the Publisher
When I think about what or who inspired my deep affection for Mediterranean cuisine, it’s a simple answer: Graziella. Picture the most Italian of Italian nonne—a bit rotund, apple-cheeked, with an apron almost always tied around her waist. I’d lived in Italy and had traveled around the Mediterranean and tasted great food—some of the best ever—before I met Graziella, but it wasn’t until her that I knew what true Mediterranean food was—that it’s a feeling more than a practice.
Where to Begin
This book harnesses the relaxed attitude of Mediterranean cooking. Each recipe isn’t made to feel overwhelming or time consuming and most (though there are a few exceptions) are easy enough to pull off no matter the night of the week. This is the type of food I cook each and every night, whether just for my husband, Joe, and me or when family or friends gather around the table with us. The flavors of the Mediterranean—the grassy olive oil, the sweet tomatoes, the fragrant herbs—are what most inspire me and also just so happen to be ingredients that naturally lend themselves to wholesome, satisfying eating.
Three-Ingredient (or Fewer) Snacks and Cocktails
Whether I’ve invited over a few friends for dinner or it’s simply a relaxed Saturday night without any guests, having something to snack on and sip while the evening gets going is a must in my book. I, however, under no circumstances, will make it harder on myself than it needs to be. That’s where these simple situations come in. Each recipe calls for just two or three ingredients, not including salt, pepper, and olive oil, which are such pantry essentials I consider them passes. They’re effortless appetizers and drinks that manage to show off a little when they’re the kickoff to a dinner party—or when you’re just feeling peckish and thirsty at 5 o’clock on a quiet night in.
Salads and Soups
I grew up with a salad on the dinner table every night, and it’s a habit I can’t shake. I find it’s just about the easiest way to squeeze an extra serving of vegetables onto my plate, and I’ve always appreciated the crunchy, cold contrast it lends to whatever else is part of the meal. Often, however, the salad is the meal when I’ve loaded it with a bunch of extra-satisfying things.
Beans, Grains, and a Few Bready Things
What I love about things like beans, risotto, and even good toast, all of which are featured in this chapter, is their versatility. They’re all such empty canvases that can be transformed into whatever you want them to be depending on what you add to them and how many mouths you want to feed. Sure, a slice of toast is more often thought of as a snack but pile it with one or two tasty things and suddenly it’s a dead-simple dinner, too. Or stir lots of vegetables into a pot of cooked grains like farro and you’ve got something that’s just as good at playing side dish as it is taking the role of a satisfying, albeit meatless, main. Eat these recipes as you like them, when you like them.
Although pasta has a reputation for being less than wholesome, I’d argue that’s hardly the case. Sure, it can sometimes be made decadent with cream, butter, and such, but it also can be light enough to make it into your weekly dinner routine. When you use pasta as a base for lots of colorful vegetables, it’s suddenly something you can feel good about eating. The approach is simple: Flip the proportions so you’re eating a vegetable dish with pasta rather than a pasta dish with vegetables. (All that means is you’re using less pasta and bumping up the vegetables.) Don’t worry! There will still be cheese and other good things tucked inside. Your pasta isn’t going to be any less comforting than usual—it’s just going to be a whole lot more interesting.
A gathering doesn’t necessarily mean the kind with lots of people involved. A small crowd should never feel like any less of an occasion to share a good meal. What I cook midweek or on a quiet Sunday night isn’t always a whole lot different from what I cook when friends come by for dinner on Saturday night. Of course, there are hectic Wednesdays when some semblance of a civilized dinner seems impossible, but if you’re able to feed yourself well as many nights a week as possible, I deem that a major win. To do that, make simple the goal and lean on good ingredients. Unfussy main dishes have a magical way of coming together easily enough that whatever the situation may be or however many mouths you’re feeding, what you’re gathering around the table for always feels special.
My approach to dessert is fairly simple: Enjoy it. I say that as someone with an unyielding sweet tooth who also believes strongly in an everything-in-moderation approach. Satisfying a craving for a slice of cake is just as important as loading your plate with colorful vegetables, if only for your personal well-being. My favorite desserts are the most uncomplicated—those that can be pulled together with only a handful of ingredients. If it’s a dessert involving peak-season fruit (as many of my favorites do), this allows their sweetness to really shine. Even if it involves chocolate instead, it means it’s something that’s easy enough to enjoy without the need for an occasion, because I firmly believe you don’t need one.
Slinky Red Peppers with Capers and Sherry Vinegar
Jarred roasted red peppers are a great convenience, but, unfortunately, all that time hanging out in the jar causes them to become pretty muted and bland compared to those made from scratch. Luckily, I’ve found a way to improve them. Marinate a jar of roasted red peppers with olive oil and sherry vinegar, throw in some capers for a salty, briny bite, and you have something that’s much greater than the sum of its parts.
Cucumber Tahini Gazpacho with Crispy Spiced Chickpeas
When it’s mid-summer and too hot to even think about cooking, make this soup. Toss a handful of things in a blender and, before you know it, you have something cool and refreshing yet surprisingly satisfying. The latter is thanks to tahini, the sesame seed paste that’s most commonly used to make hummus. It lends creaminess and nutty flavor but, more importantly, it adds a bit of protein and healthy fat, which turns this chilled soup into a light meal. My favorite part, though, is the crispy spiced chickpeas. They also add protein but, really, they’re there for the textural contrast they give every spoonful. Just be sure to make them right before you serve the soup, as they’ll lose their crunch if made too far in advance.
Cheesy Brussels Sprout and Farro Bake
Maybe because I grew up on them (like so many of us did), I have a soft spot for casseroles, even though they’re hardly trendy these days. So, I am calling this a “bake” to keep up with the times, but truly, it’s the most delightful casserole I’ve eaten in years. Or, should I say, it’s a bit like a warm grain salad that’s held together with lots of melty Gruyère cheese and made browned and crisp on top with Parmesan. Toasted hazelnuts add crunch and balsamic and Dijon provide the right amount of tang to prevent each bite from feeling heavy. Eat it as a main dish or side dish, whichever you prefer. I also happen to think it can be quite a star at the Thanksgiving table. And if you have any leftover, don’t sleep on it; It’s one of my favorite lunches, eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Pesto Pasta with Charred Radicchio
I’ll be the first to admit: Pasta tossed with nothing but good pesto sauce doesn’t need much tinkering. However, I will say radicchio does something extra magical to it. Although the vegetable’s inherent bitterness can be jarring to those unaccustomed, it’s tamed when thrown under the broiler for a few minutes until the edges soften and char. To be sure, it still holds some of its bite, which is a good thing, because it offsets the richness of the oil and cheese-heavy sauce—not to mention its crimson hue adds a striking pop of color to the emerald green bowl.
Salmon in Crazy Water
I first learned about acqua pazza, or “crazy water,” from the late, great chef and cookbook author Marcella Hazan. The tomato-based broth that’s used as a poaching liquid, typically for flaky white fish, is traditional in the southern Italian region of Campania. I was initially drawn in by the silly name but quickly fell for the easily adaptable broth. It’s simply simmered tomatoes and water, which means it can be flavored with as few or as many aromatics and herbs as you’d like. Here, I beef up the broth with onion and fennel seeds, so it can hold up to meaty salmon fillets. It’s a meal that’s light yet satisfying and begs to be served with bread to mop up the savory broth.
Crispy Spiced Lamb and Cauliflower with Dates
This dish is a study in how joining ingredients with such stark contrast can result in something surprisingly fabulous. Crispy bits of ground lamb seamlessly meld with tender, seared cauliflower florets and caramelized dates when a healthy hand of warm spices is involved. A lemony tahini sauce drizzled over the whole mess lends a nutty, creamy element that also helps tie things together. Although the pine nuts are optional, given they usually don’t come cheap at the grocery store, they do add one more element—a buttery, crunchy one—to this showstopper, so it’s worth the splurge, if you’re willing.
Apricot Almond Clafoutis
If you can make pancakes, you can make clafoutis. The classic French dessert is no more than a simple egg-rich batter filled with fruit and baked into something that’s both custardy and cake-like. Although cherries are most traditional, just about any fresh fruit is made better when turned into clafoutis. I particularly love featuring sweet and tart apricots when they come around because their short season deserves special attention. Apricots pair especially well with almonds—inside their pits are seeds called kernels that actually have an almond-like flavor, which is often extracted and used as a flavoring agent in desserts and liqueurs in France. Rather than have you break out a nutcracker, almond flour and a scattering of sliced almonds lend the complementary notes.
Raspberry Ricotta Gratin
This three-ingredient dessert doesn’t need much explanation. Cover fresh raspberries in a thick layer of creamy ricotta, sprinkle it with brown sugar, and broil until the top becomes reminiscent of crème brûlée. The berries just begin to release their juices but remain whole, making it easy to scoop them up with bites of warm, sugared ricotta. I love preparing these in individual ramekins so everyone can break through their own caramelized sugar layer, but it’s also fun to make it in one larger dish and just hand everyone a spoon. It almost goes without saying that this technique is lovely with any other berry, too.