May is Mediterranean Diet Month and it's the perfect time to review the cuisine known for its health properties.
According to BBC Good Food, Mediterranean diet, also known as "sunshine cuisine" usually includes "vegetables, fruits, beans, cereals, fish, white meat and some dairy produce." There are also healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts.
Lori Lange of Recipe Girl has a great recipe for a chickpea salad that is made from a handful of healthy produce. With Mediterranean cuisine mainstays (olives, feta cheese and tomatoes) combined with flavor-packed herbs (parsley, green onion), this salad is a party on all its own!
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad from Recipe Girl
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2/3 cup chopped bell pepper (mix red/yellow/orange)
3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
3 green onions, sliced
12 kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
The dressing is tart and delicately spiced, balancing out the saltiness of the olives and chickpeas.
Another salad that offers a taste and nutritional benefits of Mediterranean cuisine is this Orzo Salad from Kristine of Iowa Girl Eats.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad from Iowa Girl Eats
6oz dry gluten free or regular orzo pasta
1-1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons capers
For the Lemon Dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper, lots
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mediterranean salads are great to pair with fish or lean meat. Pork Be Inspired suggests using lean pork to go with a Mediterranean salad of pasta and vegetables.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad from Pork Be Inspired
3/4 pound cooked pork roast, cut into strips
12 ounces penne pasta or ziti pasta, cooked & drained
1 small cucumber, diced
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup Greek vinaigrette dressing
TIP: You can make your own roast pork at home for this salad. Just marinate pork loin in store-brought marinade, put in a silicone mat-lined baking sheet, and pop in the oven until cooked.
Know someone who loves Mediterranean salads? Sharing is CARING! :-)