A plant-based diet is a dietary approach that emphasizes the consumption of whole, minimally processed foods from plant sources. The benefits of a plant-based diet extend far beyond personal health and can have a significant positive impact on the planet. This dietary pattern is associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The Mediterranean Diet is a plant-based dietary pattern that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It also includes moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and minimal amounts of red meat and processed foods. The Mediterranean Diet is not only healthy, but it is also delicious and easy to follow. It has been voted the #1 diet by U.S. News & World Report for five years in a row.
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It is also associated with improved cognitive function, better gut health, and longevity. A plant-based Mediterranean Diet can also have a positive impact on the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving water and land resources.
Here are 21 plant-based Mediterranean recipes to get you started on a plant-based diet:
1. Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip)
Muhammara is a slightly spicy dip made from red peppers and walnuts that originates from Syria. My first exposure to this heavenly dip was in California where I lived for a decade and a half.
2. Pasta with Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Ricotta & Pine Nuts
The heart of Italy is the culinary destination for this scrumptious pasta dish topped with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta and pine nuts. Best part: Traditional Italian dinner in only 20 minutes!
3. Sheet Pan Haddock with Swiss Chard and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
This recipe for sheet pan haddock reminded me of my dad and how food felt like an adventure on those nights he would cook. As I’ve gotten older, fish is still one of my favorite things to eat and so I’ve discovered ways and recipes that make preparing fish easy and delicious.
4. Puff Pastry with Tuna, Tomatoes and Olives
Canned tuna is completely part of everyday French cuisine and part of any Mediterranean Diet meal plan. It is a cheap product and is found everywhere. It adds a little protein to a dish without it being meat, so it’s lighter.
5. Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana
When you travel to Naples, in southern Italy, one of the dishes that you absolutely have to try is eggplant Parmigiana. This traditional preparation is essentially a rich vegetable lasagna that uses eggplant slices in place of pasta and combines them with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and basil leaves.
6. Greek Briam – Baked Summer Vegetables
Briam is an amazing vegetable and olive oil based dish in the ladera family. Ladera (lathera) is a Greek word meaning “in oil”. These foods are usually vegetable or bean-based dishes that are cooked in copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil.
7. Vegan Lentil ‘Meat’ Sauce with Portobello Mushrooms
This is one of my favorite vegan lentil recipes, and it was created by my twin sister, Arianna. She has been vegan for 4 years now and being vegan has propelled her into being an amazing cook.
8. Instant Pot Beans and Greens
When the weather is becoming colder, I’m back to using the Instant Pot a lot. One of the great things about the Instant Pot is that you can cook dried beans without soaking them overnight.
9. Bean Burgers with Garlic and Sage
A really good bean burger recipe is hard to find. I have tried hundreds of them over the years and this Mediterranean Diet based bean burger recipe is one of my all time favorites.
10. Egyptian Lentils with Rice and Pasta
Koshari, also spelled Kushari, is the national dish of Egypt. It is one of the best Mediterranean diet recipes for using up things in your pantry. You can find Koshari in food carts and restaurants all over Egypt (and now you can make it in your own home!).
11. Kalamata Olive and Chickpea Paella
Most people think of paella as a dish with seafood and sausage, but one of the traditional Mediterranean Diet recipes of Valencia is paella de verduras or vegetable vegan paella. This paella recipe has over 20 ingredients in it, but don’t let that scare you!
12. Egg Noodles with Walnuts and Basil
We like to call this traditional Cretan dish “Surprise Noodles” because you’ll be surprised by how simple, yet flavor-packed it is. This egg noodle is served with a typical tomato wine sauce, with an added boost of chopped walnuts, making this dish special.
13. Lentil Soup with Olive Oil and Orange
This traditional Cretan Lentil Soup is a hearty and delicious Mediterranean Diet recipe. It’s easy to prepare, and you can prep your other ingredients while cooking the lentils. I love making this soup on Sunday for weekday lunches. Enjoy with a tasty and healthy chunk of sourdough bread.
14. Black Eyed Peas with Fresh Dill, Olive Oil and Orange Slices
Black eyed peas with Fresh Dill, Olive Oil and Orange Slices is one of my all-time favorite Mediterranean Diet recipes. How can you go wrong with fresh dill, fresh parsley, green onions, orange slices, and 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
15. Pasta with Sautéed Spinach and Garlic
This is my go-to pasta dish when I’m tired, I don’t really want to cook, but I want something satisfying and healthy. Pasta with Sautéed Spinach and Garlic can be prepared in 20 minutes (as long as you are cooking the pasta as you prep), has an easy clean up and is super delicious!
16. Mediterranean Fish Stew
This Mediterranean fish stew is perfect using any white fish. I have tried it with both halibut and flounder. It is so simple to make that even a novice in the kitchen will find making it to be a breeze.
17. Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale
This Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sausage and Kale will make you feel like you are eating in a small restaurant in Italy. It is the perfect hearty soup for a wintry day. Most beans soups are full of nutrition and this one is no exception: fiber from the beans and kale; vitamins A, K and C from the Kale; protein from the beans and sausage and healthy fat from the extra virgin olive oil.
18. Greek White Bean Soup with Orange Slices and Olive Oil
White bean soup is great for lunch or dinner. It is often eaten with a Greek salad, crusty bread and some wine. The soup is vegan and if you want to keep your meal vegan then serve with a simple salad topped with Greek dressing. It also goes well with sautéed swiss chard or spinach with feta and lemon.
19. Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs
Breakfast will never be the same. This recipe for Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs is super easy, delicious and sure to leave you satisfied, ready to start the day.
20. Greek Omelette with Zucchini and Mint
This recipe for Greek Omelette with Zucchini and Mint is brought to us by Koula Barydakis, Crete-native and co-author of the cookbook, “Foods of Crete: Traditional Recipes from the Healthiest People in the World“.
21. Avocado Toast with Caramelized Balsamic Onions
We have been creating an amazing collection of avocado toast recipes over the last few weeks. There have been a few failures, but mostly they have come out incredible. When I lived on the Greek island of Crete, one of my favorite food experiences was eating fresh avocado from the courtyard in our hotel.