The Mediterranean diet has been a popular food trend since the early 60’s thanks to its delicious, approachable flavors, and demonstrated health benefits. The foundation of this diet relies on vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Meals are built around these plant-based foods and ample amounts of seafood and healthy fats. Dairy, poultry, and eggs are present in small amounts – just enough to reap their nutritional benefits. Red meat and sweets are reserved for special occasions. This coastal diet pulls inspiration from the shores of Greece, Italy, Spain, Southern France, and parts of Northern Africa.
Today, we will focus on beautiful, sunny Greece, which is known for some of the best dishes and ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet. Many Greeks do not consider their eating habits as a diet, but as a way of life! Anyone can achieve a long, healthy, and delicious life thanks to this plant-forward diet … especially if one adds in a nice glass of red wine from time to time.
We here at Musco Food want to show how easy, delicious, and beloved Greek cuisine is. We went ahead and whipped up some of our favorite Greek dishes – they are perfect to shake up your prepared foods section… Enjoy!
Marinated Roasted Olives
Marinated Roasted Olives are simple to make and make a great addition to almost any dish that needs a little texture, salt, acidity, or a fruity tone. We have used them by themselves as an antipasti, as a topper for fish, and made them into a spread for sandwiches. This easy and versatile ingredient could quickly become a must-have in your business.
4 Jars Iliada Mixed Olives Drained (#611931), or 3Lbs. Mixed Greek Olives, 2 C Iliada E.V.O.O. (#671327), Zest from one Orange, and 1 lemon, 2 Sprigs Thyme, 2 Sprigs Rosemary, 2 Sage Leaves, 2 Cloves Garlic – Smashed, 1 Pinch Cinnamon, 1 Pinch Allspice, 1 Pinch Nutmeg.
Directions – Mix all ingredients thoroughly and place on roasting tray. Roast @ 375 Degrees F for 35 minutes. Cool down and add 1.5 Tbsp of Vantia Red Wine Vinegar (#710060) let marinate. Enjoy!
Greek Country Salad
Feta may be the most popular Greek cheese, but we’d like to put Manouri in the spotlight. Manouri cheese is a firm, white cheese made with fresh sheep’s milk. Its mild flavor and creamy/crumbly texture is reminiscent of Italian Ricotta. We used it in our version of a Greek Country Salad as it added wonderful texture and creaminess to the dish.
Recipe (makes 1 Half Pan)
8 oz. Diced Manouri Ricotta (#311810) , 3 oz. Iliada Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Lemon Juice (#701102), Zest from one medium-sized lemon,1 Large Red Onion – Diced, 3 Large Red Bell Peppers – Sliced, 15 ea. Grape Tomato – Halved, 1 English Seedless Cucumber – Sliced in Half-Moons, 5 Stalks Celery – Sliced on Bias, 18 oz. Mesclun mix.
Directions- In large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients with Iliada oil mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Greek Tuna Salad
Spices are essential to Greek cuisine, but their use is highly regional. Southern Greece uses a lot of Oregano and Basil, whereas Northern Greece relies on “sweet baking spices” such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and juniper berries. Greek recipes tend to use heavy amounts of these spices to create layers of flavors. We made our own version of a traditional Greek Tuna Salad capitalizing on their spices.
Recipe (makes 1 Half Pan)
1 60 oz. Can Flott Tuna (#491809), 2 C. Mayo of Choice, 1 Large Red Onion – Diced, 1 Bunch Parsley – Chopped, 1 Bunch Dill – Chopped, Zest from one medium-sized lemon, 2 Lemon – Juiced, 1 Pinch Cinnamon, 1 Pinch Allspice, 1 Pinch Nutmeg.
Directions- Gently break apart big junks of tuna in a large bold, fold with all other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
Which is best, Moussaka or Lasagna? The debate rages on, but we will side-step it for the time being. Both are scrumptious baked dishes with one major difference: where lasagna contains flat wheat noodles, moussaka relies on potatoes. Moussaka is a layered dish consisting of roasted potatoes, eggplant, ground “red meat” of choice, finished off with a velvety Bechamel (a delicious cream sauce thickened with flour) and Kasseri cheese. The latter might be our favorite part of this behemoth dish. Kasseri cheese is very similar to Mozzarella in more ways than one: it is firm, bright white, and melts beautifully. Its mild flavor is enriched by a rich sheepiness. While it is often served pan-fried, we love it as a crispy, cheesy topping.
Recipe (makes 1 Half Pan)
3 Large Eggplants – Sliced 1/2 inch thick, 4 Large Yukon Potatoes – Sliced 1/4 inch thick, 1 1/2 C. Iliada Oil (#671327) + 2 Tbs., 1 lb Ground Beef, 1 Large Onion – Diced, 2 Clove Garlic – Minced, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Allspice, ½ tsp Nutmeg, 8 oz. Tomato Paste,1 ½ C Kasseri Cheese – Shredded (#36S044), 2 C. Bechamel, ½ C. Parsley – Chopped.
Directions -Toss Eggplant and Potatoes separately with oil, season to taste. Roast @350 for 20 min or until golden brown. Pat dry with towel. In a pan, heat 2 Tbsp oil with onion, cook until translucent. Add meat along with with tomato paste, garlic and spices and cook thoroughly. Drain oil before cooling meat. In medium size baking dish, place a layer of roasted potatoes, followed by a layer of eggplant. Repeat. Then add meat, gently tapping the dish to help ingredients settle evenly. Top the dish off with Bechamel, and shredded Kasseri. Bake @350 for 25 minutes. Garnish with herbs. Enjoy!