One of the healthiest diets in the world is also the most delicious. Here are all the best Mediterranean diet recipes to get you cooking!
Want to eat the Mediterranean way? Of all the ways to describe a way of eating, the Mediterranean diet is probably the closest to what Alex and I eat. It’s been gaining traction as one of the healthiest diets in the world. And this is not diet food, folks: Mediterranean diet recipes are real, fresh, and seriously delicious! What we love even more is that it’s not just food: it’s a lifestyle approach. Keep reading for some of our favorite recipes.
What’s the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has been called one the healthiest and best in the world. But what exactly is it? The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating and living that derives from the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea (like Italy and Greece). It’s not a strict diet, but more of loose guidelines. Here’s how the Mayo Clinic defines the Mediterranean diet:
Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats (like olive oil)
Weekly consumption of fish, poultry, legumes (beans & lentils), and eggs
Moderate portions of dairy products
Limited intake of red meat
Mayo Clinic stresses that a Mediterranean diet is plant based, not meat based. It’s kind of like a whole food plant based diet (WFPB), with a bit of seafood and dairy thrown in. Having a loose concept is helpful and provides flexibility (like eating “flexitarian”, a word Alex and I often use to describe how we eat).
It’s all about the lifestyle.
One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s all about the lifestyle. This eating philosophy originated based on the longevity of people in the Mediterranean, and researchers observed more than just eating habits. Simply eating Mediterranean diet recipes is not all there is to it. Here’s what’s important in addition to food:
Stay active and exercise regularly.
Reduce the amount of stress in your lifestyle.
Actively participate in community: be invested and engaged in the people around you!
Side note: our cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, has 10 lessons to a sustainable practice of healthy cooking. It’s no accident that they sound a lot like the tenets of the Mediterranean lifestyle! Many of the principles we learned about how to cook healthy on an everyday basis are less about food and more about lifestyle. These are the same principles that contribute to longevity in the Mediterranean diet.
And now…our top Mediterranean diet recipes!
Without further ado, here are our Mediterranean diet recipes! These recipes feature:
Olive oil as the cooking oil of choice.
Beans, lentils, bulgur wheat, quinoa, and rice as major players. They’ve gotten a bad rap with the interest in the keto diet and Whole 30, but recipes in the Mediterranean diet include beans and whole grains as nutritious foods.
Vegetarian, vegan & seafood recipes. Mediterranean diet recipes are plant based in nature, but it’s recommended to include seafood about 2 times per week.
Though it looks a little like rice, orzo is actually a small pasta in the shape of rice! It’s often used in Mediterranean diet recipes like Italian and Greek cuisine. All the flavors of Greece are in this orzo salad: salty feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and of course, powerhouse herbs like mint and dill! Leftovers save well and it's perfect for lunches.
This Mediterranean style salmon with capers is easy to make and results in one perfectly moist piece of fish! It's baked in foil with lemon and herbs until it’s perfectly tender. Then it’s topped with a silky butter sauce made with garlic and capers. Just a small drizzle packs a huge punch — and the modest quantity keeps it healthy. It all comes together in just 30 minutes.
Here’s an irresistible Mediterranean diet recipe: this Falafel Salad! Make a batch of this easy baked falafel, then layer them with crunchy veggies and top with a creamy, zingy tahini dressing. Or, use purchased frozen falafel or even repurpose take-out leftovers! This one is a massive hit with our family: and works for weeknights or dinner parties.
Yes, it really is the best lentil soup! This one is easy to make and full of nutritious ingredients. Lentils are common in Mediterranean diet recipes: thy're loaded with plant based protein. The star ingredient here is fresh fennel, which adds a smoky undertone to the fire roasted tomatoes and kale. This soup is ultra cozy; enjoy a steaming bowl with a side of our best vegan cornbread.
Here’s a Mediterranean diet recipe with a total wow factor: this Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes & Feta! The tender, flaky fish is covered in a lemon garlic sauce, cozied up with burst cherry tomatoes, Mediterranean seasonings and gooey bits of feta cheese. Each bite is savory with just the right pop of brightness. It’s ready in just over 30 minutes and great for impressing on weeknights or dinner parties.
Here’s a healthy lunch or dinner idea to spice up your routine: Mediterranean tuna salad! This spin adds crispy Mediterranean-style veggies and swaps out the classic mayonnaise for olive oil and vinegar. The flavor is so fresh and delicious, you may give up the mayo version altogether. Eat with crusty bread, gluten-free crackers, or make it into lettuce wraps.
This Moroccan stew recipe is one of our top Mediterranean diet recipes we refer to people who want to eat more plants. Why? It’s ultra flavorful, with a blend of Moroccan spices that’s truly irresistible! It’s full of nutrient rich vegetables: sweet potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes and spinach.
Looking for an easy weeknight meal? Enter: lemon dill salmon. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s even fancy enough for a dinner party. The baked salmon is perfectly savory, and doused in a zingy lemon dill sauce it’s pretty irresistible.
Hello and welcome to the best quick Mediterranean diet recipe idea: the Hummus Bowl! At it’s base, this simple concept requires no cooking at all: layer a dollop of hummus with crunchy veggies and greens. To make it more filling, add cooked rice (leftover or from a pre-cooked rice packet). It takes just 5 minutes to make this Mediterranean-style meal that’s bursting with creamy, tangy, crunchy, fresh, and savory flavors.
Here's a favorite Mediterranean diet recipe that makes for a tasty vegetarian dinner recipe. Roast those multi-colored bell peppers until they're tender, then stuff them with the flavors of the Mediterranean. The quinoa filling features shallot and garlic, pistachios, parsley, paprika, oregano and lemon. Sprinkle that with a healthy handful of feta cheese, and you've got dinner.
The word salad doesn’t even really come close to describing the taste treat that is the traditional French Nicoise salad. Hard boiled eggs, green beans, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, tuna, and tangy potatoes sit on crunchy lettuce with a zesty lemon vinaigrette that makes you want to keep eating it for days. It’s filling enough to be a main dish, and it’s got the best carefree vibe.
This traditional Spanish rice dish is actually easy to make at home: we promise! You don't even need a fancy pan: a large skillet will do. Smoked paprika adds an earthy flair to the rice, which is topped with veggies, artichokes and shrimp. It's a stunning recipe for entertaining, but easy enough for a weeknight.
This Tuscan soup is one of our favorite Mediterranean recipes -- and not just because it tastes like pizza! (OK, maybe that is why.) It's full of big flavor from hearty tomatoes and Italian spices, and it's got a smoky undertone from fennel and smoked paprika. Top with some Pecorino or Parmesan shavings and it's divine.
These Mediterranean diet couscous bowls recipe is a common repeat in our dinner recipes repertoire. Why? In just 25 minutes, you have a fresh bowl of delicious vegetables that’s smothered in a tangy lemon tahini sauce. This one is a truly tasty way to eat your veggies. If you'd like, substitute couscous for a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. It would also be tasty with Greek salad dressing.
Is pizza a Mediterranean diet recipe? When it's this healthy pizza, it is! It starts with our Easy Thin Crust pizza dough. Then it's slathered with our tangy, garlicky Easy Pizza Sauce. Top that with caramelized peppers and onions, fresh arugula, and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese. It's SO flavorful and turns out with only ⅓ the calories of a typical delivery pizza!
Lentils are one of nature’s wonders: they’re full of protein, shelf stable for years, inexpensive, and make for some of the most satisfying filling meals. Try this simple Red Lentil Soup! It’s deliciously hearty, featuring aromatic vegetables, lemon and a hint of smoked paprika.
These nachos are all about the flavors of the Mediterranean! Juicy tomatoes, cool cucumber, and white beans are spread over crunchy pita chips and covered in a cool, bright green cilantro sauce. These Greek nachos are vegan, so they’re 100% plant based! Make your own Homemade Pita Chips, but if you’re in a hurry, use storebought instead.
This hearty tortellini soup has a lightly sweet depth that makes you want the bowl to be never-ending. The trick? Tomato paste and paprika give just the right complexity to the broth. A bit of carrot and celery add texture and crunch. Whole basil leaves are added right after the tortellini cooks, which meld into the beautiful velvety broth.
This white bean shakshuka recipe is a tasty Mediterranean diet recipe that works for brunch or dinner! Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce that originates from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. This one features white beans and bell peppers, and is sprinkled with feta cheese. It's so tasty, and comes together in just over 30 minutes.
This Mediterranean veggie sandwich was inspired by our recent trip to Italy. While in Pisa, we went to a sweet little sandwich shop and had a sandwich like this. The bread is spread with basil pesto and Kalamata olive spread, and then it’s filled with grilled eggplant, juicy ripe tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. It’s pretty darn delicious, if we do say so ourselves.
Looking for easy Mediterranean dinner recipes? Well, we have the answer for you: shrimp marinara! It combines the most flavorful, simple marinara sauce with tasty sauteed shrimp. Serve it over pasta and it’s a classic Italian recipe that has all the carefree vibe of the Mediterranean without the fuss. But it’s showy enough for entertaining, too. With a big salad, it’s great for an easy dinner party.
There’s something about the combination of herbaceous parsley, bright lemon and crunchy tomatoes and cucumber that makes magic. Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat, a quick cooking whole grain. But seeing as quinoa is the grain of the moment…why not try it with quinoa? Turns out Quinoa Tabbouleh works perfectly, making a delicious gluten free spin on this classic Lebanese and Greek salad.
If you’re looking for a healthy seafood recipe that fits into the Mediterranean diet: here’s the one! The flaky fish is bursting with savory, smoky flavor from the grill. Top it with sweet and tender blistered cherry tomatoes, and it looks simply stunning.
Don't have a grill? Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, until flaky.
Try this White Bean Soup, full of humble ingredients and huge flavor! Tender white beans float in the cozy broth with soft potatoes and leafy kale. Lemon zest lends brightness and tarragon brings an herby nuance. The best part? It’s made of 100% vegetables and tastes like a dream.
Ready for the perfect Mediterranean sauce to add life to baked salmon? Try this pesto salmon! Bright green pesto goes hand in hand with tender baked fish to make a stunning dinner. Because really: what isn’t better with a little pesto on top? The savory, garlicky sauce makes the flaky fish pop: you’ll already be taking your second bite before finishing the first.
This pasta and chickpea soup is full of big Mediterranean flavors: intense vibrant tomato, leafy Tuscan kale, and a creamy broth made with Parmesan rind. Swimming in it all are the chickpeas and pasta of the soup’s title, making it hearty and filling.
Here’s a top-notch lentil recipe to add to your arsenal, and man is it tasty. This fresh and healthy lentil salad is Mediterranean-style, mixed with fresh veggies, feta cheese and pistachios. It’s a tasty way to add protein to a vegetarian meal as a side dish, or bring to work as a lunch throughout the week.
Scallops have a beautiful, mild sweet flavor that’s easy to love: and there’s nothing better than that perfect seared crispy outside. It takes a little know how to get that golden brown crust without under cooking or overcooking them. But once you know a few secrets…they're simple and take only 5 minutes to cook.
Bowl meals are popular because they're one of the easiest ways to turn random ingredients into a healthy dinner! A good grain bowl has to be well-seasoned, and play up contrasts in color, texture and flavor. This one features Mediterranean vegetables, quinoa and a zingy tahini sauce.
This baked shrimp is so easy and the shrimp come out juicy and perfectly seasoned with Mediterranean flavors like garlic and herbs. Move over, all other shrimp recipes! This one is the perfect healthy, fast and easy dinner.
Creamy, savory, crunchy, and zingy: this asparagus risotto is truly sublime. Roast up some asparagus with lemon at the same time that you’re stirring up a creamy risotto on the stovetop. Then throw the tender bright green asparagus into the risotto, right along with the lemon.
These chickpea burgers full of whole foods are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a hint of nuance from smoked paprika. Style them however you like: we like to paint them with BBQ sauce and top with shiitake bacon and spicy mayo.
Looking for Mediterranean diet recipes? This herby orzo salad is a crowd favorite, bursting with flavor from fresh dill and mint, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
8 ounces orzo pasta (1 ¼ cup dry)
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 lemon, juice and zest (about 2 tablespoons juice)
¼ cup minced shallot or red onion
1/2 English cucumber (2 cups diced, or substitute a peeled standard cucumber)
2 roasted red peppers from a jar or ½ fresh red bell pepper (½ cup diced)
⅓ cup chopped dill, plus more for garnish
⅓ cup chopped mint
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup feta cheese crumbles
⅓ cup Kalamata olives, halved
Prepare the orzo according to the package instructions. Taste the orzo a few minutes before completion to ensure it’s ‘al dente’ (chewy, but with a little firmness in the center). When it’s done, drain it and then rinse it under cold water until it comes to room temperature.
Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the lemon zest, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
Mince the red onion, then place it in a bowl with water (this helps to remove the sharp onion taste). Dice the cucumber. Dice the roasted red pepper. Chop the herbs.
Stir together the orzo, chickpeas and bowl of lemon juice, red onion, cucumber, red pepper, dill, mint, white wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, oregano, feta crumbles, black olives, and several grinds of black pepper. Taste and if necessary, season with more kosher salt.