The popular Mediterranean cuisine that is considered as one of the most delicious cuisines in the world, is one more thing that lots of tourists from all over the world come to experience in Greece. So, if you have decided to visit Greece this year, it is really worth tasting the special dishes of Mediterranean cuisine and discover its secrets.
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The Key Ingredients Of Mediterranean Cuisine
The secret of the Mediterranean cuisine is its ingredients, which are combined together during the preparation of the meals to create very tasty dishes. The following are the key ingredients that are used in the preparation of the dishes:
1) Olive oil
Mediterranean dishes cannot be complete if they are not prepared using olive oil. The Mediterranean region is one of the world’s top producers of olive oil, which is used as cooking fat when preparing various cuisines. Olive oil is also used as a garnish in various sauces, as well as drizzled over foods such as fish and beans to enhance the taste.
2) Fish and seafood
The Mediterranean region enjoys a large supply of fish and other seafood from the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea. These are used as a primary ingredient in the preparation of various dishes. In addition to fish, other seafood that you are likely to find in a Mediterranean cuisine includes shrimp, octopus, crabs, and sardines.
While a large part of the Mediterranean cuisine includes seafood, you will still find plenty of delicious dishes prepared using beef, lamb, pork and poultry. In Greece, roasted or grilled pork or lamb meat are very popular and important dishes, which are prepared on special occasions.
4) Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables form a large portion of the Mediterranean cuisine, and they are found in abundance in the region. Popular vegetables that you can find in most dishes include cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, asparagus, beetroots, celery, eggplant, mushrooms, and spinach. The Mediterranean cuisine is also served alongside popular fruits grown in the region, which include kiwis, pears, citrus fruits, cherries, strawberries, peaches, melons, figs, and the most popular of them all, grapes.
Nuts are another key ingredient in the Mediterranean cuisine, which contributes significantly to its delicious taste. Common nuts that are used include almonds and walnuts, which have a very high nutritional value.
The Mediterranean region, especially Greece, is one of the best producers of honey. This ingredient is one of the key elements of Mediterranean dishes, and it is used as an artificial sweetener. It is also added to various dishes such as baked beans and lamb to deepen the taste.
Mediterranean cuisine cannot be complete without the addition of healthy and delicious legumes such as lentils, chick peas, beans, and split peas. These legumes are used to cook stews, soups, or baked and served alongside other dishes.
8) Herbs and spices
The addition of herbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of the Mediterranean dishes. Common spices and herbs that are used in the preparation of Mediterranean dishes include ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, and onions.
The Benefits Of Mediterranean Cuisine
The following are some of the top benefits of the Mediterranean cuisine:
1) The dishes are prepared using a lot of fruits, vegetables and other plant-based ingredients, which contain a lot of fiber and healthy fats.
2) The use of olive oil helps to reduce the amount of saturated fats in the dishes, which helps to prevent health the build-up of bad cholesterol in the body.
3) Ingredients such as nuts, fruits, and green leafy vegetables contain a lot of antioxidants, which are very essential in neutralizing the effects of free radicals produced in the body, which can damage the body’s cells if left unchecked. This helps to prevent various diseases and health conditions in the body.
4) Fish and seafood dishes contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help to displace saturated fats and trans fats in the body. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have also been revealed to be very beneficial in maintaining a healthy heart condition.
5) Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils that are common in the Mediterranean cuisine are packed with lots of proteins, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They have also been shown to have numerous health benefits, which include lowering cholesterol levels in the body, and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
6) In addition to health benefits, Mediterranean dishes are prepared using lots of herbs and spices, which enhance the flavor of the food and make it more pleasant to be consumed.
Top Mediterranean Dishes You Should Try In Greece
Greece is the home of the best ingredients in the world, which are used to prepare very delicious Greek dishes that will offer you a really unique culinary experience. When taking holidays in Greece, the following are some of the Mediterranean dishes that you should try:
Mousaka is an iconic Greek dish that has been prepared over a long time, and several variants of the dish are found throughout other regions in the Mediterranean. The dish is prepared by layering sautéed eggplants, minced meat that is fried with pureed tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices, a layer of potatoes, and a final fluffy layer of toppings that can include cheese and sauce. The layers are placed in a pan and then baked.
2) Grilled meat
Meat is another popular dish in Greece. Various Greek meat dishes you can find include grilled or spit-roasted pork, lamb, and beef, with pork and lamb being the most common. To give them a Mediterranean edge, the meat is garnished using various Greek spices.
Fish is a popular dish in Greece, which you can enjoy at any seaside tavern and most restaurants in the country. The fish is prepared easily, by dressing it with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, olive oil and then grilling it whole.
4) Lamb kleftiko
Lamb kleftiko is a delicious dish that is prepared by dressing lamb chops with garlic, lemon juices, herbs and spices, then sealing them together with potatoes in an oven bag. They are then roasted, allowing the potatoes to soak up the delicious juices.
Gemista is a traditional recipe for Greek stuffed tomatoes and/or other vegetables that are baked, until soft and nicely browned. The traditional Greek recipe for Gemista can be either vegetarian, where the vegetables are filled with rice, chopped vegetables and baked in a tomato based sauce, or they may contain minced beef or pork.
There is no doubt that the Mediterranean cuisine is one of the best diets in the world. The ingredients used are packed with a lot of nutritional value, which provides numerous health benefits. While vacationing in Greece, you should taste the most popular dishes of Greek cuisine, which is the most representative sample of the Mediterranean cuisine.