September 4, 2015
Vol. VII No. 18
Toledo Landscape
In This Issue
View of olive trees and grapevines from Viñedos Cigarral Santa María, a restaurant outside of Toledo, Spain. Oldways Madrid Culinaria, 2013.

The Mediterranean Harvest

Now that summer is coming to a close, Mediterranean vegetables that took their time ripening in the sun are ready for harvest. Tomatoes, eggplants, beans, corn, peppers and zucchini might overwhelm us this time of year if we didn't have classic Mediterranean dishes to fall back on. Of these vegetables, only eggplants have grown in the Mediterranean for more than a few hundred years; the others are new world foods that came to the Mediterranean with the Columbian Food Exchange. Yet it's hard to imagine Mediterranean cuisine without this vegetable harvest.

Mediterranean cooks are masters of drawing attention to the naturally tasty flavors of vegetables. They are most often cooked minimally, with some good olive oil, herbs and spices. Getting kids (and adults) to eat their vegetables is not a common struggle there; after all, vegetables make up the bulk of the Mediterranean diet.

The way vegetables are used in the Mediterranean diet also sets it apart from diets like the Standard American Diet (SAD). Vegetables are often the stars of the plate, and they are treated with the utmost respect. A typical lunch or dinner includes multiple vegetable dishes and a salad. During harvest season, soups and stews that may call for ten or more vegetables are a popular way of using abundant produce.

They are also beloved for breakfast. In Greece, tomatoes and cucumbers are often on the breakfast table, perhaps with some cheese. Pan con tomate (pa amb tomàquet in Catalan) and bruschetta alla Romana - tomatoes rubbed onto toasted or grilled bread and topped with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt - are typical breakfasts in Spain and Italy, respectively. In Israel, breakfast is not complete without an Israeli salad, made with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and fresh herbs.

In some ways, vegetables are what tie Mediterranean cuisines together. Many have their own version of an eggplant purée, for example, with varying seasonings from country to country. Turks add yogurt and Moroccans like it with cumin and coriander. The same goes for bean purées, tomato sauces, vegetable soups and stuffed vegetables.

Even though they are technically fungi, mushrooms are also very important to the Mediterranean cuisine. People forage for wild mushrooms at various times throughout the year, and many varieties are available at markets now. Their earthy meatiness makes them an essential ingredient for vegetarian Mediterranean meals. A plate of mushroom risotto or mushroom and potato gratin, for example, makes for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Take a look at the recipes below for more ways to use vegetables in the Mediterranean way. 
Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe. 
Poached Fish

Gently-poached halibut, olives, lemon, spices and walnuts partner up to create this savory and satisfying meal. This recipe uses tomatoes and hot peppers from the Mediterranean harvest.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Walnuts.

Salmorejo Cordobes

Salmorejo is more filling than gazpacho, with added bread, and extremely tasty thanks to extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic and seasonings. Flavorful seasonal tomatoes help too.

Recipe inspired by Mar Luchetti and adapted from Claudia Roden. Photo:

Tomato Salad

This salad is quintessential Mediterranean diet: simple, clean, fresh, healthy, and tasty. It takes almost no time at all to make, with just a few ingredients. A light dressing is the perfect way to celebrate Mediterranean harvest produce.

Recipe by Fausto Luchetti. Oldways photo.

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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Vegetables, Revised
by James Peterson
Treat yourself to an in-depth education with Vegetables, acclaimed author and teacher James Peterson's comprehensive guide to identifying, selecting, and preparing ninety-five vegetables - from amaranth to zucchini -along with information on dozens of additional varieties and cultivars.  

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