Festive Food: How to Cook Mediterranean Meals Like a Pro

It’s well established that the Mediterranean diet is both delicious and good for you. The diverse aromatic flavors of the region have transcended trendiness to become a staple in the American restaurant scene. You can find some of the world’s best Mediterranean food in NYC. As the holiday season approaches, the prospect of freezing weather and heavy traditional meals might have you wishing you could escape to the sandy shores of the Mediterranean Sea. You might not be able to escape the snow, but you can bring its flavors to your table without compromising on that festive feeling.

Some may shy away from choosing a Mediterranean theme for their meals – surely such complex flavors can only be achieved with hours in the kitchen and intricate techniques? While some food is more labor intensive, not every dish requires a master chef and hours of uninterrupted dedication. It’s possible to create a Mediterranean feast from scratch, even as a beginner or with limited preparation time. Even if you don’t want to go the whole hog, making a few easy changes can bring a little of the ‘Med’ to your holiday meals. Once you feel comfortable in the Mediterranean approach to food, you’ll be impressing your family and friends in no time.

Back to the Basics: Ingredients for Classic Mediterranean Food in NYC

The layers of flavor in most Mediterranean cooking hint at a dedication to the art of cooking, but many dishes can be put together in less than an hour. With a dish like chicken skewers, for example, you can even speed up the cooking process by cutting your proteins and vegetables into small, even pieces – and it makes for a very easy festive presentation, too.

Balancing Your Favorite Mediterranean Flavors

What really brings the flavor of the Mediterranean to the table is the thoughtful use of herbs, spices, and aromatics. The region is famous for its love affair with garlic, but there are so many more complex and exciting flavors to explore. You can transport your taste buds just by adding signature regional spices to your meal. Having a way with herbs and spices is a first-class ticket to authentic-tasting Mediterranean food in NYC.

Look through a few Mediterranean recipes, and you’ll soon start to see the pattern. Common herbs and spices include basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cloves, saffron, coriander, fennel, sumac, and turmeric. The precise combination of herbs and spices tells you what part of the Mediterranean you’re in, culinarily speaking. Spice mixes are common: the eastern and southern Mediterranean give us warmer spice combinations like Baharat, Ras-El-Hanout, and Za’atar, while Italian herb mixes lead with oregano, rosemary, and thyme. There’s enough overlap with familiar festive season flavors like cinnamon to invite some warming crossover between the expected and exotic.

Diet Accommodations: Everyone Can Dig In

Good Mediterranean food in NYC is all about bringing everyone together over food. One of the advantages of going the Mediterranean route for your festive meals is the inherent inclusivity of the cuisine. The vegetable-forward approach means that the vegetarians and vegans around the table can be spoilt for choice instead of getting stuck with the sides. Those who are dairy or gluten-intolerant will find plenty to eat, too – it certainly helps that the fat in most dishes comes from olive oil, not butter. There’s a wealth of recipes to draw from when constructing your menu, and with a little creativity, all of your loved ones can feel truly welcome at the table.

Because the Mediterranean diet doesn’t originate from a single country but rather a whole, diverse region, it’s endlessly adaptable. There are flavor profiles galore to explore. The prevalence of meat-free proteins like legumes – usually chickpeas, lentils, or beans – means you can create satisfying main course dishes without relying on meat. Falafel is a popular vegan choice to replace meat in favorites like burgers, meatball dishes, tacos, and even scotch eggs.

Delicious Effortless Mediterranean Festivity From 19 Cleveland