| Slow Cooking
The Mediterranean Diet is easy to love. It's based upon delicious fresh foods that are good for you, economical, easy to find, and simple to cook. And there's one more big plus: It's very adaptable to American kitchens.
Take the slow cooker, for example, that icon of practicality that comes with the promise of a meal that's ready to eat the minute you come home from work. Plenty of Mediterranean favorites, including soups, sauces, stews, tagines, and bean dishes that are beloved for the fabulous flavors that come from long cooking at low heat, do very nicely when introduced to the slow cooker.
Or, use it to make your own chicken stock. Combine chicken necks or bones and scraps from a whole chicken with a few chopped carrots, an onion, a stalk or two of celery, some peppercorns, and a bay leaf, add water, cover, and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Voila! (Cool, chill, and skim the fat off the top before using.)
Here are a few recipes to try. For many more ideas, take a look at The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.) It offers intriguing ideas for many Mediterranean favorites including polenta, risotto-style farro, and seafood couscous.
Slow Cooker Chickpea Stew Serves 6
Gently seasoned, this hearty stew can be a side or the center of the meal. Serve it with garlicky broccoli or green beans and, if you want more zing, add a pinch of hot pepper flakes to the pot.
3 16-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes with their juice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth, canned chicken or vegetable broth, or water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Calories: 393, Fat: 7g, Sodium: 300mg, Carbohydrate: 70g, Protein: 14g
Recipe from The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone.
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken with Noodles
Don't skimp on the herbs! They add special flavor to this fragrant dish.
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 large onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
3 cups uncooked no yolk egg noodles
3/4 cup frozen peas
Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces. Sprinkle with thyme and oregano.
Place the chicken broth, tomatoes, carrots, and onion slices in a slow cooker. Top with the chicken. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Stir in the noodles and peas, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes on high or just until the noodles are tender.
Calories: 325, Fat: 9g, Sodium: 454mg, Carbohydrate: 33g, Protein: 28g
Recipe courtesy of McCormick Spices.
Mediterranean Slow Cooker Chicken and Potatoes
4 small (2 pounds) bone-in chicken breasts
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ pounds small red potatoes
¾ cup frozen, thawed pearl onions
1 cup small baby carrots
¾ cup chicken broth
8 ounces small baby bella or white mushrooms
Chopped fresh thyme (optional)
Remove the skin from the chicken breasts and set aside. Combine the herbes de Provence, garlic salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. Spoon the flour onto a second dinner plate. Coat each chicken breast in the spice mixture; then dredge well in the flour.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides (approximately 3-4 minutes per side). Cook the chicken in two batches if necessary (and use a bit more olive oil) so as not to crowd the pan.
Place the chicken in a large slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients except for the fresh thyme. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Sprinkle with fresh thyme before serving, if desired.
Calories: 430, Fat: 8g, Sodium: 400mg, Carbohydrate: 43g, Protein: 45g
Recipe courtesy of US Potato Board.
Greek-Style Gigante Beans Serves 8-10
Look for bags of large white dried beans at any store that sells Mediterranean foods.
Allow time to soak the beans for at least eight hours. And, once they're cooked, freeze some for a meal down the road.
12 ounces dry gigante beans
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes, with juice
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Water as needed
Put the beans in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak for eight hours. Drain, rinse, and add to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Stir, and add a little water to cover the beans completely with liquid. Cover, and cook for 8 to 10 hours, until the beans are soft and tasty. Enjoy hot, at room temperature, or cold.
Calories: 63, Fat: 2g, Sodium: 234mg, Carbohydrate: 13g, Protein: 4g
An Oldways Recipe.