If you’ve ever been to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, there’s no doubt that you’ve tasted some of the freshest, most flavorful ingredients. While a trip to Italy or the Greek Islands is an experience in itself, there’s no reason you have to fly halfway around the world to enjoy the delicacies these destinations have to offer. You can recreate the bits you love the most at home with your very own Mediterranean party!
The fresh flavors of the Mediterranean are not only fun for your taste buds, but according to Mayo Clinic, a Mediterranean diet can also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Here’s everything you need to know to throw a flavorful and festive Mediterranean get together for your friends and family.
Creating A Mediterranean Oasis
Adding a theme to your meal makes planning a lot easier. From setting the table to picking out the menu, you want to commit to the Mediterranean theme in every detail.
When it comes to choosing your dishware, ditch the paper plates and red solo cups in favor of melamine. It’s more practical than ceramic, and is available in tons of colors and patterns. Try and stick to soft, sunlit colors that echo those of the sea and sky like shades of blue, white and yellow.
Make a statement with your table’s centerpiece. Although fresh flowers may be tempting, try using potted rosemary plants instead. Not only will they add to the aromas of the meal, but afterwards you’ll have an abundance of fresh herbs to use in future recipes.
The Menu: Send Your Taste Buds On A Journey
A true Mediterranean menu includes an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of whole grains, and small amounts of red meat. Regular use of olive oil, fish and nuts make the diet higher in unsaturated fats, which can be good for the heart. Many of these recipes can be prepared ahead of time so all you have to do when your guests arrive is throw them on the grill and get ready to eat.
Olives are the basis of most Mediterranean appetizers. Upgrade from traditional chips and dips by offering your guests whole grain pita chips or toast points with a green olive tapenade to snack on. It’s not only much healthier, but will also complement your main course. For even more variety, try a mezze plate – an arrangement of Mediterranean dips and finger foods that is sure to leave every guest satisfied.
Green Olive Tapenade
For the main course, meat lovers can satisfy their cravings with a decadent lamb dish. These Mediterranean lamb kabobs are tender and juicy, and much healthier than a burger or steak. If you’re feeding a picky eater, you can easily swap the lamb out for chicken.
However, the Mediterranean diet does heavily emphasize the benefits of fish. Fresh fish is high in protein, low in fat and full of omega-3 fatty acids. Try grilling up some swordfish with a Mediterranean spice rub.
Swordfish with Mediterranean Spice Rub
No meal is complete without something sweet to top it off. Try grilled peaches with dukkah and blueberries. The result tastes a bit like peach pie, but without the fattening crust.
You can also try your hand at an easy baklava recipe. This rich, sweet pastry is made of layers of phyllo dough and chopped nuts. The flaky layers are sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. Bake the dessert a day early to allow the syrup to soak into the dough and really enhance the flavor.
Grilled Peaches with Dukkah and Blueberries
Pass The Plate
You may be tempted to throw everything on a table and serve it buffet style, but the Mediterranean way is to serve it family-style. Leave your food in the middle of the table and pass it around as necessary. This creates a more casual and communal environment and encourages your guests to talk to one another. Plus, it saves you from having to get up when you want seconds, so it’s a win-win.
The most important part of any meal is the company you’re with. Preparing your dishes in advance gives you the flexibility to sit back, relax and enjoy your meal in a true Mediterranean fashion.