Cooking School: Mediterranean Flavors

Photo Credit: ric_w via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ric_w via Compfight cc

Mmm… this is a favorite of mine!  When I think Mediterranean flavors, I think:

  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Sesame (tahini sauce)
  • Vinegar
  • Oregano
  • Feta cheese
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Yogurt
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh summer vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers
Opa!

Opa!

At my house, we sometimes have a meal we affectionately call “Greek Night.” It’s really more of a mishmash of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes, but they all work pretty well together. We usually have 2-3 of the following dishes:

  • Greek salad (tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, cucumbers, feta, and olives, either with lettuce or “village style” — no lettuce, just the good stuff!)
  • Falafel (I make my falafel from a mix — it doesn’t have any unpronounceable ingredients in it, so I feel pretty good about it)
  • Hummus (if you have a food processor, you should absolutely be making your own hummus. It’s just chickpeas, olive oil, salt, lemon, garlic, oregano, and tahini. Play around with flavors until it tastes the way you like it.  Yeah, yeah… tahini is a bit of a specialty ingredient, but the jar will last in your fridge indefinitely — or not, if you eat as much hummus as we do. Plus, you’ll be able to make the yummy Greek salad dressing that I share below.)
  • Grilled chicken with Greek seasoning
  • Tzatziki sauce (plain Greek yogurt, diced cucumber, and Greek seasoning)
  • It’s not part of our regular rotation yet, but I’d love to add tabbouleh salad to our “Greek Night.”
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Don’t be afraid of looking a little silly! Anyone can add Mediterranean flavors into their cooking repertoire.

Even though all these dishes are simple to make, it is a little time consuming to put all this together, especially on a weeknight after work. You can do a lot in advance — make the hummus & tzatziki, grill the chicken with a previous night’s meal, and you could even be a real overachiever and pre-chop veggies for your salad.

And... step right this way for a delicious salad dressing recipe!

And… step right this way for a delicious salad dressing recipe!

Greek Tahini Dressing
1 oz. (1/8 c.) Olive oil
1 oz. tahini
1 oz. white wine vinegar
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Oregano
1/2 t. Parsley
1/2 t. Honey or Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine.

Tastes great on a "village style" Greek salad of chopped cucumber, tomato, chickpeas, kalamata olives, green peppers, and feta cheese

This tahini dressing tastes great on a “village style” Greek salad of chopped cucumber, tomato, chickpeas, kalamata olives, green peppers, red onions and feta cheese.  Or… eaten with a spoon.  Your choice!

If you love Greek flavors as much as I do, you should also try these Greek burgers — they’re a little more work than a regular burger, but they are seriously delicious.  Plus, they’re a great way to sneak some spinach and bell peppers to your favorite veggie-hating carnivore.

Welcome to my Cooking School series, which is designed to share what I’ve learned as an experienced home cook with people who want to learn how to cook healthy, homemade food. If you have a topic you’d like me to address, please leave a comment! I try to post a new Cooking School installment on Thursdays.

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12 thoughts on “Cooking School: Mediterranean Flavors

  1. Can’t wait to try the tahini dressing! Here’s a tip for storing tahini: tighten the lid good and tight and put jar in fridge upside down. It makes the oil easier to stir back in if it seperates.

  2. Ohh, I never thought to use tahini in a greek dressing – that sounds good. I’m not big on mixes, but on a whim I decided to try Penzey’s Greek Salad dressing mix and it is pretty tasty (also very scalable so we can mix up a small amount for the two of us).

    Tabbouleh isn’t too difficult. The hard part seems to be finding the bulgur wheat. I use this recipe (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lebanese-Tabbouleh-106589) though now I can find the bulgur in bulk bins at our nearby co-op. I guess the second hardest part is chopping all the herbs.

    I think you just helped me figure out what to make to eat this weekend.
    Michelle recently posted…WIPW: Aerial QuiltMy Profile

    • You’re welcome! It certainly worked out well that the little Greek festival at our local Greek Orthodox Church was going on right around the same time I was planning to write this post. Opa!

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