Fresh Fridays

July 24, 2015
Vol. VII No. 15
In This Issue

Summer Specialties à la Med


Now that we are at the height of the summer, we find we'd rather be outside enjoying the long, summer days instead of inside, cooped up in the kitchen. Ice cream for dinner looks more appealing than ever!


There is plenty of healthy summer meal inspiration to be found in the Mediterranean, where temperatures easily reach upwards of 100°F (or almost 40°C) in the summer. Take advantage of fresh, seasonal produce to make simple meals that don't require time standing over the stove or turning on the oven. If you have a garden or you frequent farmers' markets, you know the incredible bounty that summer brings. The higher the quality of the produce, the less you need to do with it in the kitchen.


Mediterranean cooks don't hesitate to toss all kinds of fresh produce together in single dishes. Add flavor to vegetable dishes in the Mediterranean way by using plenty of fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, and spices in uncomplicated ways. Serve fresh fruit at every meal, especially for dessert. Make the most of warm nights and enjoy these dishes outside in the company of family and friends. To cut down on cooking time and cost, try hosting a Mediterranean-style potluck.


Here are a few ideas for simple Mediterranean summer meals:


Chilled Soup

From Bulgarian iced cucumber soup to the famous Spanish gazpacho, cold soup is an excellent way to cool down and enjoy fruits and vegetables. Gazpacho is traditionally made with a tomato base, but these days you can find creative combinations using ingredients like watermelon, strawberries, and mangos. 


Grilled ... Anything! 

The grill is your friend in the summer. Make simple marinades for

meat, seafood and vegetables, and cook skewers on the grill. Serve them with fresh sauces like Greek tzatziki or French pistou. Halved heads of lettuce, such as romaine or radicchio, can be grilled too. Make a simple dressing to go along with them for a quick and flavorful salad. Summer fruit is equally delicious grilled; check out the grilled pineapple recipe below.


Salads of All Shades

Green salads are a classic way to use up summer vegetables, but they don't stay fresh for long. Experiment with pasta salads, grain salads like Lebanese tabbouleh or Middle Eastern chickpea and bulgur salad, lentil salads, bean salads, fruit salads, and vegetable-based salads like Tunisian carrot slaw or Greek cucumber salad. Classic Mediterranean salads such as Lebanese fattoush and Italian panzanella make great use of stale bread and abundant vegetables. Make big batches of these salads to eat throughout the week; they are delicious straight from the fridge.



In the Mediterranean, it is common to see numerous vegetables incorporated into egg dishes. Eggs make an incredibly versatile base for countless flavor combinations. Each country has its own variation: the Spanish have tortillas, the French have omelettes, and the Italians have fritattas. All utilize summer produce in similar ways and take a short time to cook. These dishes are equally delicious hot from the pan, at room temperature, or cold. 


Tapas or Mezze

An entire meal can be made up of small dishes that require little effort to prepare. A cheese plate, roasted nuts, olives, crusty bread and a salad are easy options. Try serving Italian crostini, or "little toasts," with various toppings, such as olive tapenades, bean spreads, hummus, pesto, cheese, sliced fruit, and quickly-sautéed vegetables. 


Ceviche or Carpaccio

Try "cooked" fresh vegetables, meat, or seafood in the form of Italian carpaccio or Spanish ceviche. Thinly slice the main ingredient and cure it by marinating it in lemon juice, olive oil, fresh herbs and spices; be sure to use the freshest meat and seafood available. Try serving raw vegetables and pita with Middle Eastern baba gannouj, hummus, or muhammara.

Panini or Pasta

Meat is not the star of summer Italian panini and pasta. Both dishes are often loaded with vegetables and fresh herbs. Try grilled eggplant, zucchini, or sautéed greens in your panino, and add in some fresh summer cheese like halloumi or feta. Simply toss pasta with extra virgin olive oil, halved cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella; the heat from the pasta will melt the cheese and wilt the tomatoes just enough to make a sauce. 

We hope we've inspired you to use tasty summer produce as they do in the Mediterranean: simply and frequently. Check out the recipes below for more great ideas.


Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe. 

Watermelon Salad


Refreshing, delicious, and easy to make, this salad is your passport to summer, Mediterranean style. This recipe proves that watermelon goes surprisingly well with Mediterranean flavors.


Recipe and photo courtesy of FoodMatch.


Tilapia Wrap


Packed with protein, this delicious dish is made by cooking fish in foil pouches, either over the grill or in the oven, to keep it moist and flavorful. This wrap is also a great way to use leftover fish.


Recipe and photo courtesy of the National Fisheries Institute


Grilled Pineapple


Enjoy fruit like they do in the Mediterranean - for dessert! Grilled pineapple is quick and easy to make, and fresh strawberries and mint complement its caramelized flavor perfectly. 


Recipe and photo courtesy of the North American Olive Oil Association.

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.       



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by the Editors of Phaidon Press

Recipes from an Italian Summer features over 400 easy-to-make seasonal recipes, organized by how we like to eat. Chapters such as Picnics, Salads, Barbecues, Light Lunches and Suppers, and Summer Entertaining show us how to make the most of tasty summer produce.


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