30 Classic Mediterranean Recipes

Pomegranate Tahini Sauce with Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers
Photo: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Though the Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by more than 20 countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe, there are some common flavors and ingredients that are interwoven throughout the various coastal cuisines. Fresh tomatoes, olives, fish, lemon, feta, mint, za'atar, and more make their way into delectable dishes like stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, shish kababs, and fattoush salad. Discover traditional Mediterranean dishes and riffs on the region's classic flavors with this collection of coast-inspired recipes.

01 of 30

Whipped Feta with Cucumbers

Whipped Feta with Cucumbers
© Seth Smoot

The taste of the Mediterranean shines through in this airy feta spread that's served with olive oil-marinated cucumbers and toasted pita.

02 of 30

Greek Salad with Shrimp and Kamut

Plate of greek salad with shrimp and kamut
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Kamut, an ancient variety of wheat, adds hearty chew to this entrée inspired by a classic Greek salad. Soak kamut overnight to help it cook faster or, for an even easier dish, cook the kamut in advance to trim day-of prep to 30 minutes.

03 of 30

Chicken Breasts with Artichoke-Olive Sauce

Chicken Breasts with Artichoke-Olive Sauce
© John Kernick

This mouthwatering dish roasts in just 20 minutes and pairs well with a vibrant, medium-bodied Moschofilero.

04 of 30

Saganaki Halloumi (Cypriot Fried Halloumi)

Saganaki Halloumi (Cypriot Fried Halloumi)
Photo by Cedric Angeles / Prop Styling by Stephanie Bohn

Halloumi cheese is fried in clarified butter, then brushed in a spiced honey and served with lemon yogurt, brandy-basted nectarines, and fresh tomatoes in this sweet and savory appetizer from chef Christian Hernandez.

05 of 30

Greek Fish Stew

Greek Fish Stew
© Con Poulos

"On the Greek island of Kalymnos, fishermen make a stew with shellfish, whole fish, lemon, onion, and water," says chef Andrew Zimmern. "They eat it straight from the pot with their hands — no bowls. It tastes of sweat and iodine, but it is easily one of the best soups I've ever had. I make my version with halibut, throwing in mussels at the end."

06 of 30

Sea Bass with Tomato and Black Olive Salsa

Sea Bass with Tomato and Black Olive Salsa
© Jan Baldwin

Writer Sophie Dahl calls this a "good date dinner" because it's elegant yet easy. The Mediterranean-style salsa on the fish — a mix of olives, tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice — would be equally delicious on its own as a salad.

07 of 30

Zeytinyağli Yaprak Sarmasi (Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Zeytinyagil Yaprak Sarmasi
Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

From the Turkish region of Mugla, these tangy, tender vegetarian rice and herb-stuffed grape leaves are a great appetizer for easy entertaining and can be made a day ahead. The brightness of the brined grape leaves is balanced by the rice filling, which is seasoned with fresh parsley and dill and slightly sweet cooked onions.

08 of 30

Summer Bulgur and Green Bean Salad

Summer Bulgur and Green Bean Salad
© Maura McEvoy

This lovely side dish of light, fluffy bulgur studded with bits of toasted almonds and crisp green beans is a wonderful alternative to rice.

09 of 30

Socca with Zucchini and Olives

Socca with Zucchini and Olives
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Socca, also called farinata in Liguria, is a tender pancake made from chickpea flour. Unlike the versions in Nice, which are cooked in copper pans, this one is baked in a cast-iron skillet before it is topped with a summery marinated squash salad. Preheating the cast-iron skillet in a 450°F oven yields a socca that is both crisp and tender.

10 of 30

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Hazelnut Vinaigrette
© Reed Davis

The rub on this pork is chef Octavio Becerra's take on za'atar, a spice blend that gets its pungency from ground sumac. Becerra remembers, "Everyone in Beirut had his or her own version of za'atar," so he suggests experimenting with the ratios of spices to see what tastes best.

11 of 30

Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter

Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter
© John Kernick

"It's almost impossible to end up with dry, overcooked fish when cooking it whole," says chef Steve Corry. "The bones protect against extreme heat, plus they add flavor and moisture." Here, Corry pan-roasts whole branzino, Mediterranean sea bass, that's stuffed simply with lemon and rosemary. He makes the easy compound butter, which melts on the fish to become a sauce, with wild Tunisian mountain capers, although any caper will work.

12 of 30

Chicken and Rice Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon

Chicken and Rice Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon
© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.

We like to serve this Mediterranean-inspired salad warm, but it's also good slightly chilled. Be sure to check the seasonings, though; cold dishes often need more salt and pepper than those served hot.

13 of 30

Lamb Sliders with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Grilled Lamb Sliders with Romaine Salad and Tahini Sauce
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

A symphony of herbs — in the form of za'atar — and little bits of toasted pine nuts add bright flavor and texture to the ground lamb patties that accompany this fresh summer salad.

14 of 30

Grilled Chicken with Banana Pepper Dip and Fattoush

Grilled Chicken with Banana Pepper Dip Recipe
Photo by Tara Donne / Food Styling by Chris Lanier / Prop Styling by Raina Kattelson

In this single-serving recipe from 2001 F&W Best New Chef Anita Lo, the three-ingredient banana pepper dip is the star of the dish. She first browns the peppers, then purees them with feta and lemon juice. Happily, there's leftover dip that can be scooped up with pita or veggies.

15 of 30

Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers, and Walnut Pesto

Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers and Walnut Pesto
© Petrina Tinslay

This vegetable-loaded pasta is equally delicious warm or cold. Chef Jerry Traunfeld created it with the eastern Mediterranean staples of cauliflower and bell peppers, which taste great together, especially when tossed in a garlicky walnut pesto.

16 of 30

Lahem Meshwy (Lamb Shish Kebabs)

Lahem Meshwy (Lamb Shish Kebabs)
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Simply spiced with paprika, salt, and pepper, these grilled lamb kebabs have been a mainstay at League of Kitchens instructor Jeanette Chawki's family cookouts for years. Be sure to cut the lamb into equal-size cubes to ensure even cooking, but feel free to mix and match the vegetables on each skewer.

17 of 30

Mussel and Chorizo Soup

Mussel and Chorizo Soup
© John Kernick

At Steve Corry's Five Fifty-Five in Portland, Maine, mussels from nearby Bangs Island were almost always on the menu. He often steamed the mollusks in white wine and lemon juice scented with pickled cherry peppers and garlic. For this Mediterranean-inspired soup, however, Corry serves the mussels in a brothy liquid with plenty of chorizo.

18 of 30

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Lemon, Dill, and Feta

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Lemon, Dill and Feta
© Fredrika Stjärne

These slow-cooked shanks are worth all four hours and can be prepared in batches. The classic dish is served with orzo and goes well with a lemon-inflected, herbal Greek white wine.

19 of 30

Pot-Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Cumin

Pot-Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Cumin
© Quentin Bacon

Cookbook author Paula Wolfert visited the kitchens of Dar Yacout in Marrakesh, where the cooks still use charcoal fires to make dishes like lush and smoky roasted eggplant salad.

20 of 30

Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers with Pomegranate-Tahini Sauce

Pomegranate Tahini Sauce with Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers
Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Pomegranate molasses is the secret ingredient in this simple marinade. Its punchy, sweet, earthy notes add long-cooked depth of flavor to cheese and vegetable skewers in just 30 minutes of marination, with pleasantly bitter tahini rounding things out. The pomegranate-tahini marinade goes the extra mile as a final drizzle for the skewers; thinned with fresh orange juice, it supplies the perfect, sweet-savory finish to the dish.

21 of 30

Bulgur with Tangy Artichokes

Bulgur with Tangy Artichokes
© Tina Rupp

Chef Shawn McClain sautés fresh artichokes and simmers asparagus in a shallow pan of water in the oven with lemon juice, sugar, and salt for 15 minutes before mixing everything with bulgur. An easier way is to use delicious, tangy jarred artichokes in the salad and steam the asparagus for just five minutes.

22 of 30

Roasted Eggplant Moussaka with Lamb

Roasted Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Roasting eggplant until it's creamy and custardy makes it the perfect base for layering with a rich, meaty sauce in this take on moussaka, which is topped with a luscious layer of ricotta and mozzarella cheese in place of béchamel sauce.

23 of 30

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Fennel and Rosemary

Sautéed Chicken Breasts with Fennel and Rosemary
© David Malosh

The Mediterranean flavors of fennel, garlic, and rosemary are perfect with chicken. The fennel and chicken are sautéed and then briefly braised in chicken broth, which becomes a tasty light sauce.

24 of 30

Fresh Figs With Labneh and Carob Molasses

Fresh Figs With Labneh and Carob Molasses
Photo by Heami Lee / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

This is a simple dish but striking: a geometric bloom of fresh figs laid atop a layer of labneh and topped with carob molasses, olive oil, toasted sesame seeds and hazelnuts, and a shower of black pepper. Each bite combines a gentle sweetness from the figs glossed in molasses; a floral, creamy freshness from the olive oil and labneh; and a playground of textures.

25 of 30

Thin Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Mint

Thin Spaghetti with Tomatoes Kalamata Olives Feta Mint
Greg DuPree

For a weeknight when speed is key, whip up this one-pot pasta. It's inspired by Greek ingredients like whole cherry tomatoes, briny olives, salty feta cheese, and fresh mint and oregano, and makes a satisfying meal for a summer evening with very little effort.

26 of 30

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill, and Feta

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill & Feta
© Chris Court

"This salad is a nod to my mom and my Greek heritage," chef Michael Symon says. In addition to dill, a common herb in Greek cuisine, Symon adds plenty of mint and basil.

27 of 30

Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus
© SNEH ROY

This stunning magenta hummus is all about the beets. Though it's made without chickpeas, it's flavored with tahini, garlic, and spices, like traditional versions.

28 of 30

"Best of the Olive Bar" Pasta Salad

Best of the Olive Bar Salad
Greg Dupree

This easy pasta salad comes together in just 15 minutes with help from the grocery store olive bar. Fresh oregano, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese bring bright flavor to this easy summer salad, perfect for weeknight dinners, pool parties, and backyard barbecues.

29 of 30

Harissa-Spiced Salmon with Israeli Couscous

Harissa-Spiced Salmon with Israeli Couscous
© John Kernick

F&W Culinary Director at Large Justin Chapple combines spicy harissa and sweet agave to make a delicious rub for his crisp-skinned salmon fillet.

30 of 30

Cucumber-Dill Tzatziki

Cucumber-Dill Tzatziki
© Guy Ambrosino

This yogurt dip is incredibly versatile — serve it with toasted pita wedges as an appetizer, or pair it with grilled lamb, chicken, fish, or vegetables.

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