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Learn to Cook Mediterranean—One Of The Healthiest Diets In World

The Mediterranean diet has been touted as one of the healthiest ways of eating in the world. It’s the sum of the cuisines of all the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, encompassing Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, North Africa, and some parts of the Middle East. We usually associate pasta and paella with these cuisines, but there are many other healthy delicious ways of using Mediterranean ingredients in your everyday meals. Start by eating more plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Use heart-healthy olive oil as often as possible. Consume fish at least twice a week. And yes, you can drink red wine in moderation, too! In the following recipes, Chef Robby Goco shows us how we can use these key ingredients to cook soul-satisfying dishes that adhere to the Mediterranean diet, which are similar to the dishes he serves in his popular restaurants, Cyma Greek Taverna and Souv.

 

Fasolada

The Greeks make an excellent version of white bean soup called fasolada. It’s best to use fresh dried white beans (and the whiter the beans, the better). Also use the best extra virgin olive oil possible, as its taste will dictate the overall flavor of this dish.

 

 

Serves 4  

 

  • 400 grams dried white beans 
  • 8 cups cold water       
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomato 
  • 1/2 cup diced celery stalks
  • 2 white onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 small carrots, small dice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

1. Soak beans overnight in 8 cups of cold water. 

2. The following day, transfer beans and the water they’ve been soaked in to a stock pot or large casserole.

3. Add in the rest of the ingredients to the pot, except for the vinegar and olive oil.

4. Cook for about an hour or until the beans are soft. Remove from heat.

5. Transfer beans to a serving bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.

 

 

Rice-stuffed Tomatoes

The addition of sultanas (white raisins) and pine nuts to this rice stuffing mixture makes it a truly Mediterranean dish. Feel free to substitute any dried fruits (e.g. raisins, dried cranberries) and nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews, walnuts) of your choice. You can replace the Japanese white rice with brown rice for added nutrients and fiber.

 

 

Serves 4

 

  • 8 Baguio or salad tomatoes?
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped sultanas or white raisins
  • 1 cup uncooked Japanese rice, washed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts or cashew nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley?
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic?
  • pinch of white sugar?
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup water?
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

 

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.?

2. Partially slice top off the tomatoes, leaving the top part still attached. Empty out the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon, setting aside the flesh, seeds, and juice.

3. Roughly chop the flesh of the tomatoes and separate the juice. Combine the chopped tomatoes with the sultanas, washed rice, nuts, parsley, red onion, and garlic.?

4. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rice mixture inside each hollowed-out tomato.?

5. Add a pinch of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover the tomatoes with their sliced tops.?

6. Arrange tomatoes in an ovenproof pan. Add a little water to the pan to prevent the tomatoes from drying out. Drizzle the stuffed tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil.?

7. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Checking every 10 minutes, bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

 

 

Couscous Pilaf

Made with ground semolina wheat, couscous is one of the healthiest grains around. When cooking couscous, make sure to allow the water to come to a rolling boil. Add the dried couscous only after it has done so. Follow the cooking directions on the back of the package, as water-to-couscous ratios differ according to brand.

 

 

Serves 4

 

  • 1 cup couscous?
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil?
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced capers
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup pitted and diced kalamata or green olives
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. Place couscous in a mixing bowl.?

2. In a pot, bring chicken stock to a boil.

3. Pour boiling stock over couscous. Immediately cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap.

4. After 10 minutes, remove plastic wrap, then using a fork, fluff the couscous until grains are loose.

5. Mix in extra virgin olive oil, red bell pepper, raisins, capers, parsley, and kalamata olives. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

This article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 3 2016

Recipes by Robby Goco 

Photography by Paulo Valenzuela

Food styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz

Set styling by Athena Fregillana