Some of our favorite recipes:
If you want to really eat the Mediterranean Diet, the best way is to try some recipes. Here we give you some of our favorite beginning recipes that are easy to make. We also included some of our Instant Pot recipes if you are looking for super quick!
1. Loaded Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce with Fresh Dill, Garlic, and Cucumber
Last time we were in Crete, my wife made me promise to stop ordering so much Tzatziki. It seriously became a problem, but that’s how much I love it (she loves it too!). The creamy Greek yogurt (the highest fat possible), grated cucumbers, chopped fresh dill, garlic and olive oil create an irresistible and very healthy sauce that is great on fritters, bread, vegetables, burgers, and souvlaki just to name a few. Every chef has their own version of tzatziki, some are mild and some are potent with garlic and dill. This is the loaded version, loaded with flavor that is!
2. Authentic Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)
In 2014, I visited Greece for the first time. I had waited my entire life to eat real Greek food seeing that I’m half Greek. I was also hoping to collect some authentic Mediterranean Diet recipes.
I arrived in Athens and was set to go on a study tour throughout the country. I got to my hotel and the study group was waiting for me to go to dinner together. I put my luggage in my room and we walked through the busy streets to a traditional Greek taverna. The waiter brought us bread with extra virgin olive oil to dip.
The oil was so good. Then he brought the greek salad. This was a moment I will never forget. I took one bite of a red, juicy tomato slice and I thought to myself “What have I been eating my whole life?!” This was the sweetest, most flavorful, deep red, and beefy tomato I had ever sunk my teeth into.
3. Spinach with Feta and Lemon
If you are looking for a super quick Mediterranean Diet side dish recipe that will satisfy everyone then you have come to the right place! Spinach with feta and lemon takes about 10 minutes to make, is ridiculously delicious and will go with just about any main dish whether it’s chicken, fish, meat or beans. Serve this with warm, crusty bread for sopping up the olive oil and pot liquor.
4. Horta and Potatoes
Horta and potatoes are a Mediterranean diet recipe eaten every day in Crete. In the springtime, it’s a normal sight to see the older ladies of the village foraging on the side of the road for wild edible greens.
All year long there are a wide variety of edible greens available at the farmer’s markets. Potatoes are a staple in the Cretan diet. The flavor of both Horta and potatoes are enhanced with fresh lemon juice. Citrus trees grow everywhere in Crete so it’s as simple as walking to the nearest lemon tree and picking them.
Combine these greens, potatoes, and lemon with lots of fresh extra virgin olive oil and you have one of the healthiest, inexpensive, and fulfilling dishes from Crete.
5. Chicken Leek Soup with White Wine (Island of Crete)
We had this chicken leek soup again last night and my wife asked me “why is this soup so good?”. It’s a question worth exploring because it is the favorite soup in my cooking classes as well. It is so simple and just a scan of the ingredients wouldn’t have me running to make it.
But, the blend of chicken sautéed in olive oil, wine, and leeks makes for a delicious combo that is well worth the minimal effort of making it. It is a healing soup and a few weeks ago I made it when Christine and I both had colds. It also works as an opener to a fancy dinner party because of it’s simplicity combined with its rich, flavorful broth.
6. Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes
My first stop at most parties is the appetizer table. Ninety percent of the time, the same dishes appear and most of them are not part of the Mediterranean Diet: crackers with 3 different types of cheese; chips with dip; a vegetable platter; kielbasa with mustard; deviled eggs; and of course shrimp cocktail.
I used to love shrimp with tangy cocktail sauce, but I have had so much of it over the years that it’s lost it’s appeal. Luckily for us, Koula Barydakis has given us a traditional Greek shrimp recipe that made me love shrimp again! This recipe works as both an appetizer or as the main dish.
When I have it for dinner I pair it with greens (horta) and potatoes and white wine. I think you will find this to be an amazing new way to cook shrimp that will add new flavor to both your parties and dinners.
7. Traditional “Greek Restaurant” Salad Dressing
A Greek salad in an American Greek restaurant is quite different than a Greek salad eaten in Greece. Here, in America, a Greek salad is made up mostly of iceberg lettuce and then some tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, black olives, and feta cheese.
It is all topped off with a huge squirt of a “Greek” Mediterranean salad dressing. Even though I much prefer the Greek salad of Greece, which has no lettuce and more of all the good stuff including a dressing made up of just lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, I still like the American version every once in a while.
The American “Greek” dressing is always very flavorful and for many years I have tried to perfect my own version. I think I have finally done it! This dressing will last at least a week and a half in the fridge and is delicious whether you make your Greek salad with or without lettuce. It also makes a great marinade for chicken or fish. Enjoy!
8. Italian Farmhouse Tomato Sauce
This easy Mediterranean Diet recipe for Italian Farmhouse Chunky Tomato Sauce is so full of flavor it almost doesn’t need pasta (but I highly recommend some)! And because I use a lot of sauce and a small amount of pasta when I eat it, it is low in calories yet filling and immensely satisfying. Mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, parsley and garlic means this sauce is packed with anti-inflammatory polyphenols, antioxidants, and vitamins.
9. Greek Lemon and Garlic Potatoes
Are you passionate about potatoes and think you can’t eat them on a Mediterranean diet? Think again! Try one the most popular recipes from our Foods of Crete cookbook. This recipe uses a long cooking method, which results in potatoes with a crispy exterior and soft interior. The prep is fast and easy so you give just a little effort for great results! We’re sure these garlicky lemon potatoes will become a side dish favorite in your home.
10. Chicken Souvlaki with Grilled French Bread and Tzatziki
One of my favorite Mediterranean Diet recipes is eating souvlaki from a street vendor in Greece. They start with well marinated chicken on a stick cooked slowly over a wood fired grill. As the chicken cooks, they sprinkle salt and squeeze lemon juice on the tasty morsels.
Usually, it is served with a slice of bread that has been drizzled with olive oil and grilled. Our recipe for chicken souvlaki takes the traditional recipe, but adds Greece’s famous yogurt Tzatziki Sauce to create the perfect summer dish alongside a Greek salad or a fried potato, tomato and arugula salad and a bottle of red or white wine.
Serve this at a summer barbecue and your guests will become your biggest fans. Did we mention that it is remarkably quick and easy? Souvlaki is a no fuss option that quickly comes together with just a few ingredients. As a plus, there is very little kitchen cleanup!
11. Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme
Mezes and tapas are one of the reasons I love eating the Mediterranean Diet. I always order some version of Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme whenever I make it to a tapas restaurant. It is a dish that goes with almost any other type of food from beans to chicken to fish.
Of course, this recipe has lots of olive oil so you can sop up the flavorful juices with bread. This dish goes very nicely with Baked Cod with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives or Chicken Souvlaki with Grilled French Bread and Tzatziki. Enjoy!
12. 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.
As you prepare this amazing dish, I would highly recommend resisting the urge to cut back on the olive oil. As you simmer the ingredients, the oil cooks into the beans and herbs and what is left thickens to make a flavorful gravy.
This is a traditional vegan dish from the island of Crete and works great with a vegan salad. If you are not vegan, you can eat it with our authentic Greek salad for a meal that is comforting, filling and good for you!
13. Grilled Marinated Summer Vegetables
This is one of the first recipes I learned as a kid. Whenever my family grills, we like to grill lots of vegetables alongside the meat or fish we’re having. Grilling the vegetables brings out the sweetness. You can use whatever vegetables you have for this recipe, and I change it up sometimes.
My favorite combo though is different colored bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, and tomatoes. This is a good variety because some people may not like one or two of the vegetables, but you can almost guarantee they like at least one of them.
14. Ziti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplant
I love to cook, but I don’t always love to cook. Sometimes, I want something yummy with the least amount of work possible. This Ziti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Eggplant is one of those recipes that tastes like you’ve worked on it more than you actually have. It is a super simple recipe! Preheat the oven, slice the eggplant, onion and garlic and roast it along with cherry tomatoes for an hour. Add to pasta and you are done. Simplicity at it’s best.
15. 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.
Although, I don’t eat sausage often, I still try to get uncured sausage from grass fed animals. This makes for a much healthier sausage. This is a great recipe for someone who is being introduced to the Mediterranean Diet as it still has a meaty taste to it, but is also packed with lots of healthy vegetables, beans and herbs.
Instant Pot Recipes
We have realized that many of the one-pot Mediterranean recipes we’ve been eating for a long time work perfectly to make healthy instant pot recipes that are easy and quick. Once you learn how to use the Instant Pot correctly, you can have a healthy Mediterranean meal on the table in no time.
The meat comes out tender and the vegetables cooked all the way through. The Instant Pot also does a great job of creating sauces and broths that are perfect for mopping up with good crusty bread. If you don’t have an Instant Pot yet, what are you waiting for? It will change the way you cook and will save you so much precious time. Enjoy these recipes and share them with your friends and family!
Instant Pot Fasolakia (Green Beans and Potatoes in Olive Oil)
Beans are huge in the Mediterranean Diet. Fasolakia is a very traditional Greek dish in the “ladera” family. “Ladera” are foods cooked in a lot of olive oil that are served warm or at room temperature. They are usually cheap to make but very filling and delicious. This is one of the best instant pot recipes i’ve tried.
Instant Pot Horta and Potatoes
This horta recipe has been one of our most popular recipes on Mediterranean Living for a long time and now the Instant Pot version is here! The normal version takes around an hour to cook. Horta (Greens) and potatoes in the instant pot takes only 15 minutes! The end result is amazingly the same.
Instant Pot Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Green Olives, Peppers, and Lemon
This Moroccan inspired dish is a fusion between a Mediterranean Diet recipe and the flavors of New England. I have cooked this for thousands of people in my workshops and many have told me that I should bottle the sauce. It is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy, combining honey, molasses and Dijon mustard with Moroccan spices.
You can cook this on the stove top, a Dutch oven or in a crock pot, but here we use an instant pot which cuts the cooking time in half and the instant pot chicken comes out even more tender than other cooking methods.
Instant Pot Beef Stew with Sage and Red wine (Italy)
This Instant Pot beef stew is an adaption of an old traditional Italian recipe. The rich blend of beef, sage and red wine makes me think of a family eating in a rustic farmhouse. Like any good beef stew it is best served with bread to sop up the delicious juice. You can also serve with rice or egg noodles. I personally often eat this stew without any grain at all.
Instant Pot Chicken with Lemony Mustard Greens and Olives
The newest of my Instant Pot Chicken recipes! A few months ago I created a recipe using chicken thighs, mustard greens, and olives in the cast iron skillet. I thought this would be a perfect recipe to adapt for the Instant Pot. The reason I created the first recipe was because I wanted a recipe that would have people enjoying mustard greens.
Instant Pot Green Beans with Pork and Potatoes
This is a slow-cooker Mediterranean diet recipe adapted for the Instant Pot. The original version of Instant Pot Green Beans and Pork took at least 6 hours in the slow-cooker, but now you can make this recipe in 30 minutes or less! This is the perfect meal to make when you get home from work because your family will think you spent hours cooking. The pork cooks down to be fork tender. The potatoes, green beans, carrots, and celery cook all the way through but don’t get mushy. It tastes like it’s been cooking all day long.
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas with Fresh Dill and Parsley
This recipe, by Koula Barydakis, has been on Mediterranean Living since 2013. It’s an absolute go-to recipe for us. Five years have gone by and we got our hands on an Instant Pot Cooker. Now this traditional recipe from Crete, that was already super simple to make, is even simpler!