The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook : A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health
Spanning the Mediterranean from Spain to France, Italy, and Greece, with side trips to Lebanon, Cyprus, and North Africa, this revised and updated edition of Nancy Harmon Jenkins's acclaimed cookbook offers ninety-two mouthwatering new dishes plus the latest information about the nutritional benefits of one of the world's healthiest cuisines. But best of all are the recipes--bursting with flavor, easy to prepare, and sure to please everyone at your table, whether you're cooking for yourself, your family, or your friends.
Known for classic favorites like tabbouleh and ratatouille, flatbreads, pastas, zesty herbs, and flavorful oils pressed from succulent olives, the Mediterranean diet combines delicious taste with health-supportive ingredients as few other cuisines do. With an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, fish, lean meats, and heavenly desserts, here are recipes for over 250 outstanding dishes created for today's American kitchens. You'll also find new cooking techniques and a simplified approach to cooking--because simplicity is what the Mediterranean way of eating is all about.
Experienced and novice cooks alike will be inspired by these delectable, seasonally inspired recipes ranging from sweet young Roman-style peas for spring to skewered shrimp for summer, robust North African Pumpkin Soup when autumn is in the air, and warming winter dishes like Lebanese Garlicky Roast Chicken and Cypriote Braised Pork with Wine, Cinnamon, and Coriander--plus a variety of fabulous pizzas and dinner pies, hearty salads like Tuscan panzanella, and satisfying small dishes known as tapas. Also included is a special selection of traditional dishes prepared for Islamic, Jewish, and Christian holidays that can be enjoyed year round.
Rich in flavor and healthy nutrients but low in saturated fats and cholesterol, here are recipes that will delight your palate, nourish body and soul--and can be prepared with ease in your home kitchen.
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December 30, 2008
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Excerpt from The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Making the Change
Changing eating habits may seem like a radical and difficult chore, but changing to the Mediterranean diet is easy because most of the foods and cooking techniques are already familiar to us. It's a shift of emphasis that's the key to cooking and eating in a healthy Mediterranean style.
Except for olive oil, there's no need for special foods in the larder--in fact, many of the foods featured in the Mediterranean kitchen are probably already in your pantry cupboard. Several different kinds of beans, both dried and canned, long-grain and short-grain rice, cornmeal for polenta and flour for bread, pasta in a variety of shapes, canned tomatoes, and condiments like dried mushrooms and herbs are common ingredients and take no special effort to acquire. If there's an Italian, Greek, or Middle Eastern neighborhood nearby, you'll have access to first-rate olives and cheese; otherwise, make a special trip some Saturday to a more distant market and spend time wandering around examining the offerings. If you're far from ethnic shopping areas like these, mail-order and Internet suppliers are a good, if sometimes rather expensive, resource. (See pages 465-466 for some suggestions.)
We invent all sorts of rationales for holding back on changing diets, especially where families are involved. But there are compelling reasons for making the switch, and most of the obstacles are easily overcome. Just remember that where families are concerned, change sometimes has to come slowly. Whatever you do, don't make a big deal out of it. Small, quiet, almost unnoticeable changes are more effective than noisy family food fights.
Start off by structuring mealtimes, if you don't do that already. It's hard for American families, with so many of us apart at lunch, but dinner at least should be a time for the family to come together and share whatever is on the table. Try to have meals on the table at the same hour each day and let people know they're expected to be there. It's the first step in a Mediterranean direction, building a sense of food as a fundamentally communal, shared experience.
Switch from whatever fats you now use to extra-virgin olive oil. If you find it hard to get used to the flavor of extra-virgin oil, start off by combining it 50/50 with canola oil, which has no perceptible flavor or aroma. Gradually reduce the amount of canola as you grow accustomed to the delicious flavor of olive oil. Experiment with oils by buying several different varieties in small quantities--the flavors vary enormously from country to country, region to region, and even producer to producer. Begin by throwing out all those bottles of commercial salad dressing that are crowding your refrigerator shelves. Then follow one of the recipes on pages 261-264 for tasty salad dressings using extra-virgin olive oil. Start using olive oil to saut� meat, chicken, or fish. More flavorful oils are wonderful for frying potatoes, especially with a little garlic or onion added--another way to accustom your family to the distinctive flavor. Soon you may find yourself using truly aromatic oils on steamed vegetables or baked potatoes in place of butter or sour cream. Then you'll be ready for a real summertime treat--extra-virgin olive oil lavished on fresh seasonal corn.
(For more on olive oil, see pages 30-33.)
Get out of the butter habit. A little butter from time to time is fine, but butter is never on the Mediterranean table, never assumed to be an automatic accompaniment to bread. Even at breakfast, only a little jam garnishes the bread, which is appreciated for its own good flavor. (And contrary to American restaurant custom, bowls of olive oil, even of the finest extra-virgin, are never put on the table, except during the autumn harvest when the flavor of new oil is appreciated.)
Use more whole grains. Even though Mediterranean cooks seldom use whole-wheat pasta or brown rice, they still get plenty of whole grains through dishes like tabbouleh, the hearty Lebanese salad, and bulgur pilafs. And breads throughout the Mediterranean are often made with unrefined wheat and barley flours. Fortunately we have much greater access to really high-quality bread than we had 15 years ago when I compiled the first edition of this book, but if you can't find the kind of bread you want nearby, try making it yourself. It really isn't time consuming once you get the hang of it, and that's quickly acquired. And presenting a homemade loaf of high-quality bread on the table is just eminently satisfying.
Begin or end each meal with a salad. Make it from crisp greens and whatever vegetables are in season--tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, scallions, shavings of carrot, sherds of fennel, celery, tender chicory, raw fava beans. Don't use iceberg lettuce, which has almost no nutritional value, but do look for dark green leaf lettuces like oak leaf and romaine. Add some fresh green herbs for variety, but not all at once--basil at one meal, dill at another, cilantro, if you like it, at a third.
Add both more vegetables and different vegetables to the menu. Get away from the American focus on potatoes, peas, and salad greens. Nothing wrong with any of them but life is so much richer! The average American consumes just three servings of fruits and vegetables daily and many Americans don't even get that. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the Department of Health and Human Services, recommend up to nine servings, which is about 41?2 cups, for otherwise healthy people consuming 2,000 calories a day. So let vegetables take up most of the room on your plate.