29 Mediterranean-Inspired Recipes
Eat like you're by the sea from breakfast through dessert.
Wanderlust got you down? We get it, it’s not always easy to travel as often as you’d like. One of our great dreams is to visit the Mediterranean, home to many distinct cultures and cuisines replete with lots of seafood, fresh produce, simple preparations, and innovative flavor combinations. While we may not be able to travel to Greece or the Middle East right now, we can let our taste buds experience those different cultures from our own kitchen. Join us in getting inspired by these best recipes for your own kitchen journey along the Mediterranean—we can practically taste the salt air already.
Officially, there are around 20 countries that make up the border along the Mediterranean Sea, including the western portion of the Middle East, southern Europe (Greece, Spain, France, and Italy), and North Africa (Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria). There are also some outlier countries that sometimes get included, like Portugal, that don’t actually touch the Mediterranean, since they’re also largely influenced by the food trends found there. All these countries bring distinct recipes and techniques to the Mediterranean table, so you can enjoy them pretty much for any meal, any day of the week. Looking for easy recipes for simple weeknight dinners? Try our Greek vegetarian moussaka, French ratatouille, or Italian risotto. Want something flavorful and filling for a healthy lunch? Check out our Mediterranean chickpea salad, our French Niçoise salad, or our homemade falafels. Tuck any of them into a homemade pita for a lunch you’ll look forward to all morning. Throwing a party and need some innovative snacks (that don’t take too much effort)? You’ve gotta turn to Mediterranean-inspired dips, like our Middle Eastern hummus (a classic!), Sicilian caponata (good on everything), Greek skordalia, or Levantine baba ghanoush. We’ve even included a couple of dessert recipes here, like our Turkish baklava and our Sicilian pineapple and rum granita.
For more region-specific ideas, check out our list of Asian and Mexican dishes too.
There's nothing as creamy and decadent as Italian risotto. This easy rice dish is as comforting as it comes and isn't as intimidating as it seems—follow our tips for success, and trust us, each time you make it, it will get better and better!
Get the Risotto recipe.
According to food historians, the first Niçoise salad (from Nice, on France’s southeastern coast) contained only tomatoes, olive oil, and anchovies. Over the years, ingredients have been added and subtracted, so we figured we’d follow our stomachs and gather some of our favorites: crunchy cucumbers, tender boiled potatoes and green beans, briny black olives and capers, jammy boiled eggs, tuna, and a punch of salty umami a la anchovy fillets.
Get the Niçoise Salad recipe.
Shawarma refers to the Middle Eastern method cooking where thin slices of meat are stacked on a vertical rotating spit in front of a fire or other heat source. The outside meat is slowly cooked and then shaved off to serve. Our version varies a little by being baked in the oven but still mimics the traditional tender, juicy, and well-spiced meat.
Get the Chicken Shawarma recipe.
The lemon-parsley vinaigrette perfectly ties together all the Mediterranean-inspired ingredients here. Feel free to sub in or out your favorite ingredients, including adding some hard-boiled eggs or canned salmon to turn it into a full meal.
Get the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad recipe.
We think it's due time that halloumi, the brined Cypriot cheese, got its time in the spotlight. Besides the delightfully squeaky texture (where the cheese curd lovers at?) and the tangy, salty flavor, the high melting point is really what makes this cheese stand out—when heat is applied, it develops a delicious golden crust that is so delightful in this salad.
Get the Halloumi Salad recipe.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern dish made of chickpeas (hummus means chickpea in Arabic) and tahini. Garlic or roasted red peppers and other spices are common additions. It's great as a veggie dip or with pita chips.
Get the Creamy Garlic Hummus recipe.
We like our eggplant-based, Levantine baba ghanoush GARLICKY. If you don't, skip grating the raw clove in at the end. Without it, you'll have a more subtle (slightly sweet) garlic flavor that will still make everyone very, very happy. Accompanied by crudités and pita chips, you really can't go wrong.
Get the Baba Ghanoush recipe.
Pasta alla Norma is an easy Sicilian pasta dish with pan-fried eggplant, lots of ricotta salata, and a quick marinara sauce. The homemade sauce incorporates the oil that the eggplant is cooked in, which adds incredible flavor and mouthfeel.
Get the Pasta Alla Norma recipe.
Originating in North Africa and now strongly associated with Israeli cuisine, shakshuka typically involves cooking eggs in a sauce of tomatoes and red peppers. Ours is mildly spicy, full of flavor, and has perfectly runny eggs.
Get the Shakshuka recipe.
Cucumbers, tomato, feta, olives, and avocado combine to create a salad that may just be your go-to office lunch from here on out. Hot tip for taking this salad to go: Ditch the whisking and throw all the dressing ingredients into a jar or small container. Right before you eat, give the jar a good shake, and you will have a perfectly emulsified vinaigrette.
Arancini are the more sophisticated and cooler cousins of mozzarella sticks. The Italian dish is prepared by forming cooled risotto into balls, filling them with some sort of filling (typically cheesy!), then breading and deep-frying them into golden, crispy perfection.
Get the Arancini, 3 Ways recipe.
Pita bread (also known as Arabic bread and Syrian bread) is a yeast-leavened flatbread common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It can be made with or without an interior pocket. Regardless of which route you take, the possibilities are endless—baked falafel sandwiches, sabich sandwiches, gyro sandwiches...
Get the Homemade Pita Bread recipe.
This Turkish borek-inspired bread gets its name from "scrunched"-up layers of phyllo and a spanakopita-esque filling that result in a stunning, pleated spiral shape. Fresh dill, feta, and spinach make it a grand slam you can enjoy any time of day.
Get the Scrunch Bread recipe.
Tagine refers to both the pot and the stew-like dish that is cooked inside, but don't write off making one if you don't own a tagine pot. We made ours in a Dutch oven, and it came out perfectly!
Get the Moroccan Lamb Tagine recipe.
Although nothing's faster than picking up a sandwich from your favorite Middle Eastern, Greek, or Israeli restaurant, we promise that making these falafel balls at home is a cinch. These are herby and savory, and the crispy outside give ways to a perfectly tender and spicy interior. 😍
Get the Homemade Falafel recipe.
Known as horiatiki, this traditional Greek salad is made with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onion, and feta. The easy dressing is a mixture of red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, dried oregano, and extra-virgin olive oil. Simply said, it's the best.
Get the Greek Salad recipe.
Sticky and rich, baklava is a Turkish and Greek dessert made of layered sheets of phyllo dough, nuts, spices, sugar, and/or honey. Our version uses walnuts and pistachios, but feel free to use whichever nuts you like the most.
Get the Walnut and Pistachio Baklava recipe.
Fattoush is a very fresh and bright Lebanese salad featuring toasted pita bread, mixed greens, and crunchy veggies (kind of like panzanella, but with pita instead of bread). The best way to mix fattoush is with your hands, so don't be afraid to really get in there!
Get the Fattoush recipe.
Eggplant is infinitely better grilled, and this one comes with a simple yet addicting tahini dressing too. These are best served fresh off the grill when they are still warm, but you won't have to wait long—slices that are about 1/4" to 1/2" thick grill up perfectly in roughly 6 minutes!
Moussaka is a Greek eggplant-based dish that's traditionally made with ground beef. Here, we swapped the meat with lentils to make this an even heartier vegetarian dish. The creamy béchamel sauce on top of this is INCREDIBLE.
Get the Vegetarian Moussaka recipe.
This colorful classic southern French countryside dish is chock-full of healthy vegetables like eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini! Serve with crusty bread to sop up all their yummy juices.
Get the Ratatouille recipe.
Spanish paella might seem intimidating, but trust us, it's not. Our top tip: Keep an eye on the shrimp and mussels—they could cook in as little as a minute! As soon as the shrimp are opaque and the mussels are open, you're good to go.
Get the Paella recipe.
Spanakopita is a popular savory Greek spinach pie frequently served as cut pieces from a whole slab pie, but we made individual pockets to save you the waiting time between baking, cooling, then slicing. As soon as they pop out of the oven, they're ready to be plated and devoured by your hungry guests, no knives necessary.
Get the Spanakopita Spinach Pies recipe.
Five cups of this classic Sicilian dish may seem like a LOT, but when you realize it's the perfect condiment, toast-topper, pasta mix-in, and chicken and seafood accompaniment (among many other things), you'll be wishing you made double of this irresistible antipasti.
Get the Classic Caponata recipe.
Skordalia is a Greek dip made from potatoes and walnuts that's smooth and creamy and always a hit. Serve it with toasted pita bread or veggies for a new favorite!
Get the Skordalia recipe.
This Lebanese (or Syrian, depending who you ask 😉) salad is sure to improve whatever it's paired with. Bright, fresh herbs get friendly with sweet tomatoes and a sharp lemon dressing to create the salad equivalent of a breath of fresh air.
Get the Tabouli Salad recipe.
Muhammara is a Middle Eastern dip made of roasted red peppers, walnuts, and usually some fresh bread crumbs, which provide a pleasant, unexpected texture. Pomegranate molasses adds sweetness and a little tang, giving the muhammara its trademark flavor.
Get the Classic Muhammara recipe.
This Lebanese dish used to be considered a poor man's food that used the bulgur wheat to make the ground beef go further. Now it's a great main dish (perhaps served alongside some tabouli salad and tahini sauce?) or appetizer!
Get the Kibbeh Saniye recipe.
Hailing from Sicily, classic granita ranks among the most refreshing desserts ever. Simple to make and easily modified, it’s perfect on its own as a light palate cleanser or dressed up with whipped cream and toppings. This pineapple version is big on tropical flavors, with heavy notes of vanilla and toffee thanks to a splash of rum and a scoop of dark brown sugar.
Get the Pineapple Rum Granita recipe.