Must-Have Mediterranean Flavors
One of the world’s earlier civilizations dates back to about 3000 B.C.E. on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean. People living along the coasts of the Mediterranean and the islands within it have created rich cultural and culinary traditions over the course of thousands of years.
Whether you regularly spend summers along the Mediterranean coast or you simply dream of galavanting about the Greek isles, there is nothing quite like the fresh, delicious cuisine of the Mediterranean.
Luckily, you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to experience these delightful Mediterranean flavors.
Let’s take a look at what you should know about Mediterranean food and the spices that you’ll want in your cabinet.
Mediterranean Food: What You Should Know
There are 21 countries that have a coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. However, when we think of Mediterranean food, there are a handful of countries that encapsulate the notion of Mediterranean countries in the mind of the world. These include Spain, Italy, Greece, France, and Morocco.
Eating a Mediterranean diet has become increasingly popular in recent years. This is because of the health benefits associated with this diet.
Researchers have found that people in Mediterranean countries tend to have a lower rate of chronic diseases. This is particularly true in comparison to populations in Northern Europe and the United States.
Mediterranean food includes healthy fats, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. There are also a number of herbs and spices that can be used to transform your typical dinner into a Mediterranean-inspired dish.
Key Ingredients in Mediterranean Cuisine
There are three ingredients that are considered central to cuisine in the Mediterranean region—olives, wheat, and grapes. From these three ingredients, olive oil, delicious bread, and rich wine can be produced.
Olives have been cultivated since the early Bronze Age in Crete, Turkey, and the Levant. Ninety-five percent of the world’s olives are produced in ten Mediterranean countries. Though the fruit of olive trees is quite bitter, they can be cured, fermented, and turned into olive oil to create nutritious and delicious ingredients.
Wheat has been a staple in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. First domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, this crop had reached across the region as far west as Spain by 5,000 B.C. Wheat is used to make classic Mediterranean foods including crusty bread, pasta, bulgur, and couscous.
Wine-making has been the norm in the Mediterranean region stretching back millennia. Twenty-one percent of the world’s harvest of grapes is produced in the Mediterranean region. Locally, they are grown for making wine and vinegar as well as for eating as table grapes and drying as raisins.
Must-Have Mediterranean Flavors
When you think of Mediterranean seasonings, there are probably a number of flavors that come to mind. Parsley, oregano, sage, and basil all conjure images of a seaside paradise along the coast. However, to truly capture the essence of Mediterranean flavors, you’ll want to expand your spice cabinet beyond these classic standards.
An essential ingredient in Mediterranean, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine, these chile flakes are used in recipes like beef kofta kebabs. The most prized peppers in the region, you’ll definitely want to add these to your arsenal of Mediterranean seasonings.
Prized for its anise flavor and incredible aroma, fennel is a versatile spice that can add Mediterranean warmth to your meal. A perennial native to Mediterranean Italy, this spice is now grown around the world.
The Basque region is located in the western Pyrenees between the border of Spain and France. Located on the Bay of Biscay, this region is steeped in rich culinary and cultural traditions. Do you want to bring some of the flavorings of the Basque region right to your home? We’ve created our Basque Seasoning Blend that combines sweet, warm flavors with zesty and savory ones.
Originating from the Calabrian region of Italy, these chili peppers have a unique flavor combination that is spicy, salty, fruity, and smoky. Native to southern Mediterranean cuisine, this is the perfect way to add a bit of heat and a lot of color to any dish.
Za’atar is a must-have if you’re looking to create dishes reminiscent of the Middle East and North Africa. A combination of sumac, Mediterranean oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, and more, this spice blend is perfect for marinades, spreads, and rubs.
Mediterranean Recipes You’ll Want to Try
You can add Mediterranean flavor to any dish by adding herbs and spices reminiscent of the region. However, sometimes the evening calls for a truly Mediterranean-inspired meal.
Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables
The perfect way to showcase our Mediterranean Spice Blend is in combination with freshly roasted vegetables. With Aleppo chile flakes, Mediterranean oregano, and more, this is a delicious side-dish for your Mediterranean feast.
One-Dish Seabass and Mediterranean Pilaf
If you’re looking for an easy, one-dish meal that captures the rich, clean flavors of Mediterranean cuisine, consider trying this seabass and Mediterranean Pilaf. This unique, savory dish can be served alongside cooked vegetables or a crisp green salad to create a fully balanced meal.
Is It Time to Spice Up Your Dinner?
These days, we can easily order spices from all around the world to enhance our dishes and improve the quality of our lives through incredible tastes. However, not so long ago, spices were a valuable currency because they came from so far away. At Curious Spoon, we thoughtfully source flavors from around the world, including the unique Mediterranean flavors of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East.
Are you looking to fill up your spice rack? Check out our selection of herbs and spices today!