A taste of the delicious Mediterranean diet

The peoples of the Mediterranean live longer, suffer fewer heart attacks, and are less susceptible to cancer.

There are many reasons and factors which contribute to these remarkable statistics, but one thing is widely accepted – the Mediterranean diet plays a huge role.

A stable of the region is olive oil, which may play a part in the incredibly low rates of heart disease in the local population. Studies have found olive oil lowers the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in your blood, while raising the good type (HDL).

Olives are also packed with antioxidants, such as vitamin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds. Antioxidants are important because they help fight free radicals, which can literally change your DNA and result in cancer.

And of course, the food from the area is delicious!

With over 20 countries bordering the Mediterranean, the different cultures all have their own particular staple dishes, variants on classics, and unique ingredients.

We’ve chosen three of the best from our recipe book for you to try at home and bring a little piece of the Med into your kitchen!

Haloumi Skewers

Let’s start off in Cyprus with this delicious recipe that’s perfect for a lunch in the sun. Haloumi is a cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk (sometimes cow), and has a high melting point so it can be easily fried or grilled, making it perfect for these skewers.

Ingredients

 

Method

To prepare the asparagus, remove the woody ends then cut stems into thirds. To prepare the haloumi, cut into 1-2cm thick slices.

Skewer 2 pieces of asparagus and 1 piece of haloumi onto a soaked kebab stick or skewer, then repeat once more. Drizzle with Olivado Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and season.

Grill on a hot BBQ for 3-4 minutes each side, then place on a platter.

Drizzle with apricot and mustard dressing, then garnish with fresh herbs if desired and serve immediately.

Check out the quick instructional video here.

Italian loaded wedges

When people think Mediterranean food, they think Italian. Lright, colourful and healthy, Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only two to four main ingredients. Italian chefs rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than quantity, and this recipe is no exception, making potatoes, chicken and cheese into something wonderful.

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1tsp Italian herb mix
  • Olivado Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked
  • 3 bacon rashers, cooked
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Cut the potatoes into wedges then scatter over a baking tray. Sprinkle over the herb mix, drizzle with oil and season, then toss to coat the wedges. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the wedges are almost cooked through and crispy.

Remove the wedges from the oven. Chop the chicken breast into small cubes and roughly chop the bacon, then scatter over the wedges and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

While the cheese is melting, prep the tomatoes; cut the tomatoes in half, and place in a bowl. Toss with the fresh basil and balsamic, then stir to combine.

To serve, spoon the tomato mix over the wedges and eat immediately.

A full instructional video can be watched here.

Olivado Greek-style Lamb

Greece has an ancient culinary tradition dating back thousands of years, with some dishes being traced back to Ancient Greece. Greek cuisine is very diverse, and over the centuries has evolved and absorbed numerous influences, including Roman, Byzantium, and Ottoman empires.

Like many peoples in the Mediterranean, Greeks live to eat rather than eat to live, with lunch and dinner serious affairs which can last for hours. This delicious lamb recipe is perfect for a Sunday meal for the whole family.

Ingredients

  • 5kg leg of lamb, boneless
  • 1 cup Olivado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 3½ cups tomatoes, freshly chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion, medium minced
  • 1 chilli pepper, small minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • 1 pack of Kritharaki (the Greek name for rice-shaped pasta, which the Italians also call Rosamarina or Manesta - you can use other kinds of pasta)
  • sea salt
  • pepper, freshly ground

 

Method

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius. Rub the lamb with the lemon juice, salt and the freshly ground pepper. Cut three of the peeled garlic cloves in half lengthwise and insert the garlic halves into slits cut into the lamb.

Place the lamb in a deep baking dish and brush with avocado oil. Roast for 10-to-15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180ºC and continue roasting for a further 30-to-40 minutes, or until almost done, basting frequently with the pan juices (if there isn't enough juice use some of the chicken broth or more avocado oil).

Heat remaining avocado oil in a skillet and sauté the onion over a low heat until soft. Peel and mince the remaining garlic and add to the onion. When soft, add the chilli pepper, chopped tomatoes, sugar, sea salt and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the oven, cut into small pieces and cover to keep warm.

Pour the boiling tomato sauce into a baking dish with the juices of the cooked lamb and stir well. Add 2 cups of chicken broth and the Kritharaki and continue stirring. Return to the oven and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep pasta from sticking to the dish. The Kritharaki should be cooked al dente and will have absorbed most of the pan juices.

When the pasta is almost cooked, remove the cinnamon sticks and place the lamb on top of the Kritharaki. Baste with the remaining juices and continue roasting until the Kritharaki is cooked to taste. Serve hot, sprinkled with the cheese.

Cooking made special with Olivado oils

Just like a workman is only as good as his tools, a cook is only as good as his oils.

Don’t sacrifice quality at any stage of the cooking process. You wouldn’t use vegetables that have gone off or a sauce that’s past its use-by date, so why would you compromise when it comes to your cooking oils?

Olivado oils are of the highest quality you can find on the market. At every stage of our process we check for quality, ensuring you receive the highest standard of cooking oil possible.

Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to keep up with the latest recipes, and visit our new Pinterest account for some ideas for today’s dinner.

If you have any questions about Olivado, please feel free to contact us. Our friendly and experienced staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.