Fresh Fridays

December 26, 2014
Vol. VI No. 25

In This Issue
With New Year's Day less than a week away, it's a great time to get ready for 2015 by stocking your pantry with healthy Mediterranean Diet staples. And, when you're looking for new and interesting ways to use your fresh staples, check out Oldways' 12 Ways To Use....Series for at least a dozen good ideas.

Herbs and Spices: Herbs and spices have their own health benefits, and also give extra flavor and regional identity to any meal or dish.  But....do you have bottles of spices in your cabinets or on a spice rack that have been around for more than a few years? Take stock of your collection, and think about what you really use (have you used that bottle of ? in the last year), then discard outdated containers, and refresh your favorites.

Nuts, Peanuts, and Nut Butters: In dozens of the latest studies supporting the many health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, nuts are one of the ingredients frequently called out. There are seven nuts classified as tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts), plus peanuts (technically a legume or ground nut, but used in the kitchen like a tree nut). Choose one or all, and have them on hand to add to almost any dish, or enjoy a handful as a snack. Peanut butter and nut butters are also great staples for any Mediterranean kitchen.

Olive Oil: The Mediterranean Diet wouldn't be the Mediterranean Diet without extra-virgin olive oil! Unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. The North American Olive Oil Association's website is full of useful information about storing and handling olive oil. As they point out, "the three key enemies of olive oil (and really any cooking oil) are heat, light, and air. Limit exposure to all three of these and your olive oil can keep well for up to two years in the original sealed package."

Wine: Speaking of wines (which get better with age!), it's fun to have a variety of red, white, and sparkling wines on hand. Pick a country and/or region and try several wines to find new favorites, or just stock up on the type of wine that you like.

Beans: When we hear people say the Mediterranean Diet is expensive, our thoughts go straight to beans. What could be more affordable than a bag of dried beans (or even canned beans)? They add healthy plant protein, texture, and flavor to salads, pasta dishes, soups, dips -- the possibilities are endless.  

Vinegars: Vinegar is great to have in your pantry. Paired with olive oil, it will enable you to whip up delicious vinaigrettes for salads. Red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and champagne vinegar are just a few of the vinegars on store shelves. Try lots of them! Also, if it's in your budget, we recommend splurging on balsamic vinegar, especially aged Aceto Balsamico, the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, Italy, made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes. To learn more, visit the website of the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Mondena.

Grains: Having a variety of whole grains in your pantry will guarantee that you can have the base of a dinner in no time flat. Mix grains with vegetables or greens of all kinds for a simple dish. In addition to pasta and rice, try some other grains, such as quinoa, farro, freekeh, amaranth, or sorghum. For the best information on whole grains, see the website of our sister Oldways program, the Whole Grains Council.

Soups and Broths: For those nights when you come home exhausted, or for weekend lunches when you need something already at hand, canned or tetra-paks of soup are great to have in the pantry. Look for lower-sodium versions to avoid heavily salted prepared soups. Remember, you can also add a pinch of kosher salt to an already low-sodium soup if you think it needs just a little more salt.  

Canned Tomatoes: Canned tomatoes are also wonderfully useful for recipes and quick meals, particularly in the winter months when tomatoes are not in season. Again, look for lower-sodium varieties.

To help you shop for staples, check out the Mediterranean Diet Shopping List and the MFA's Mediterranean Pantry. If you need more ideas for recipes using these staples, please check out the recipes below or look in the cookbooks in our Bookstore.  

Click on a photo or recipe title below to link to the full recipe. 
Not only are Medjool dates great for snacking, but they make a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and main dishes. Try this dish for a quick and easy lunch or dinner. A simple vinaigrette from your pantry staples brings all the ingredients together.

Recipe, content, and photo courtesy of Bard Valley Natural Delights.
Mediterranean pantry ingredients can be mixed up in any number of ways, delivering all the goodness of the Med Diet combined with flavor accents from other cultures. This chili gets even better as it sits, so by all means make it a day ahead.

Recipe, content and photo courtesy of the The Peanut Institute.
Dukkah is a crumbly mixture of nuts, herbs, and seeds. Although its origin is Egyptian, we first encountered it in South Australia, at a riotous lunch hosted at St. Hallett's winery. It was laid out in a dish in the middle of the table, and our Australian hosts instructed us to dip our bread into olive oil (also in a small dish on the table), and then into the dukkah.

Recipe courtesy of Claudia Roden from The Oldways Table; content and photo courtesy of Oldways.

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be. 
  

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        

   

         

 

 

Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being.

 www.oldwayspt.org       

  

       

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THERE'S STILL SPACE AVAILABLE!
-
March 15-22, 2015
Aegean Coast
and Istanbul
Join Ana Sortun and
Oldways in Turkey for
a week-long journey
from Bodrum to Izmir
and on to Istanbul.

Contact Abby Sloane
at 617-896-4875
for more information.


by Alana Chernila
In her debut cookbook, Alana Chernila inspires you to step inside your kitchen, take a look around, and change the way you relate to food. The Homemade Pantry was born of a tight budget, Alana's love for sharing recipes with her farmers' market customers, and a desire to enjoy a happy cooking and eating life with her young family. 
  by Lisa Leake
Inspired by Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, Lisa Leake decided her family's eating habits needed an overhaul. She, her husband, and their two small girls pledged to go 100 days without eating highly processed or refined foods -- a challenge she opened to readers on her blog.


by Melissa Lanz
The Fresh 20, the popular budget-friendly meal-planning service founded by working mother Melissa Lanz, is now a cookbook, offering families an all-natural and easy approach to mealtimes. Using just 20 organic, non-processed ingredients per week, home cooks can create five wholesome, delicious meals in just minutes. A busy home cook herself, Lanz understands the "What's for dinner?" conundrum and has developed a program that gives parents healthy cooking options.



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