14 Best Mediterranean Recipes

greek salad with chickpeas in bowl
greek salad with chickpeas in bowl - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

Summertime is upon us, and it regularly calls for fresh-tasting, light meals that can easily take you from your dining room to an al fresco picnic. Mediterranean cuisine fits the bill; it focuses on simple preparation and fresh ingredients with plenty of vibrant herbs and spices. Mediterranean cuisine has something to offer everyone; plenty of dishes highlight plant-based ingredients, while others offer refreshing takes on meat dishes.

Mediterranean diet has also been linked to improving and maintaining heart health, with the Seven Countries Study famously discovering a connection between the diets of those living in Mediterranean countries and low rates of cardiovascular disease. (It's understood that the Mediterranean diet isn't a diet, but a lifestyle.) So whether you're looking to develop a personal Mediterranean lifestyle with a new go-to summertime weeknight meal or just dip your toes into Mediterranean cuisine with an easy appetizer for your next barbecue, take a look at some of our favorite Mediterranean-inspired recipes.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

bowl of mediterranean pasta salad, fork
bowl of mediterranean pasta salad, fork - Miriam Hahn/Daily Meal

A great, crowd-pleasing place to start is making a potluck favorite, pasta salad, into a Mediterranean feast. This recipe dresses the pasta with Mediterranean favorites, including grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. It offers a good balance of textures with a fresh-tasting finish. Since ingredients like tomatoes and cucumbers last only a few days, it's best to prepare this pasta salad right before serving for the best-tasting result.

Recipe: Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Handheld Spinach And Feta Tarts

spinach and feta tarts on sheet, in hand
spinach and feta tarts on sheet, in hand - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

Feta cheese is one of the pearls of the Mediterranean, but it can be used for much more than a simple salad garnish. With these spinach and feta tarts, feta becomes the star of the show. It's an approachable recipe perfect to serve as an appetizer, using puff pastry and a mini muffin pan to shape the tarts. Once you cook down the spinach with savory shallots, feta cheese is added to create the creamy, tangy mixture. And a little mozzarella ups the cheesy factor as well.

Recipe: Handheld Spinach and Feta Tarts

Greek-Style Lamb Chops

plate of lamb chops
plate of lamb chops - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

If you'd like to make a recipe that seems complex and fancy on the surface with quite simple preparation, turn to these Greek-style lamb chops. With a delicious 30-minute marinade of olive oil, oregano, fresh lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, you'll feel like a five-star chef in a surprisingly short time frame. Pair these chops with a bright Greek salad, or whip up a tangy lemony yogurt sauce. Or, if you want a heartier side that stands up to the lamb chops, roasted potatoes would pair beautifully.

Recipe: Greek-style Lamb Chops

Greek-Style Roasted Potatoes

plate of roasted potatoes and chicken, parsley
plate of roasted potatoes and chicken, parsley - Kristen Carli/Daily Meal

What makes these roasted potatoes Greek-style is a seasoning mix similar to that of the aforementioned lamb chops. Oregano and fresh lemon juice take the reins here, but these baby potatoes are coated with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. You could start on these potatoes first, leaving them to roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes while you prepare the lamb chops. However, these potatoes will serve great with pescatarian or vegetarian-friendly entrees like salmon or cauliflower steaks as well.

Recipe: Greek-style Roasted Potatoes

Gluten-Free Gazpacho And Crispy Chickpeas

bowl of gazpacho, bowl of chickpeas, spoon
bowl of gazpacho, bowl of chickpeas, spoon - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

Gazpacho is a Spanish classic, combining bright summer tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers to make for a light, refreshing cold soup. But with the addition of crispy chickpeas and liquid from the chickpeas themselves to thicken up the soup, this recipe offers a vegan-friendly, gluten-free protein boost. To garnish your gazpacho, reach for the familiar feta cheese and a couple of olives for good measure. And if you're cooking for one, refrigerate or freeze your leftovers, as this gazpacho can last in the fridge for up to a week.

Recipe: Gluten-free Gazpacho and Crispy Chickpeas

Mediterranean-Inspired Shrimp And Grits

bowl of shrimp and grits, fork
bowl of shrimp and grits, fork - Erin Johnson/Daily Meal

Another exciting element of Mediterranean ingredients is how they're easily transferable to jazz up classic dishes from other regional cuisines. Take this Southern staple shrimp and grits, and turn it into a hefty, filling dish with a Mediterranean twist. Of course, crumbled feta makes another appearance, with the grits cooked with the cheese and chicken broth, requiring no extra salt. Saute the shrimp with tomatoes and onions and have a meal that perfectly balances hearty ingredients with fresh flavors.

Recipe: Mediterranean-inspired Shrimp and Grits

Spiced Chickpea Greek Salad

bowl of greek salad with chickpeas, fork
bowl of greek salad with chickpeas, fork - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

No Mediterranean recipe list would be complete without the classic Greek salad. But with the addition of chickpeas, this recipe functions equally well as a side dish or the main course. The chickpeas are marinated in lemon juice and spices. Chop up some freshly washed Romaine lettuce, ensuring it's completely dry so your salad doesn't get too water-logged. A simple vinaigrette recipe is included as well, with the addition of Dijon mustard to help emulsify the dressing.

Recipe: Spiced Chickpea Greek Salad

Creamy Homemade Hummus

bowl of hummus
bowl of hummus - Jennine Rye/Daily Meal

Sure, you can pop out and buy a tub of hummus and pita bread for easy snacking. But it's hard to look back once you try making your own hummus. This specific recipe offers a special tip for ensuring your hummus is a step above the rest: Blend the tahini and lemon juice first before adding any other ingredients so your hummus starts with a creamy base. Feel free to experiment with seasonings with this recipe as well, but usual seasoning suspects include cumin or paprika.

Recipe: Creamy Homemade Hummus

Baked Falafel

plate of falafel, parsley
plate of falafel, parsley - Kristen Carli/Daily Meal

If you're looking for a unique, handheld snack to pair with your hummus, look beyond the pita and try making baked falafel. Chickpeas, a Mediterranean staple, is the star once again here. But instead of frying in oil and adding unnecessary extra fats, this recipe ditches the oil and pops the homemade falafel into the oven. With a simple baking sheet, this baked falafel causes far less mess than oil-splattered fried falafel.

Recipe: Baked Falafel

Easy Baba Ghanoush

eggplants, tahini, lemon, lemon juice
eggplants, tahini, lemon, lemon juice - Catherine Brookes/Daily Meal

To create a spread of classic Mediterranean dips, you can't forget Baba Ghanoush. Thanks to tahini, garlic, and lemon juice, Baba Ghanoush transforms eggplant's oft-disliked texture into a creamy, luxurious dip. The key here is to remember to press out and drain your cooked eggplant after it's cooled to remove excess moisture so you end up with the right texture. This also helps make peeling the eggplant and scooping out the flesh much easier.

Recipe: Easy Baba Ghanoush

Easy Sofrito

jar of sofrito, beef cooked in sofrito
jar of sofrito, beef cooked in sofrito - Christina Musgrave/Daily Meal

Many cuisines have their own version of a sofrito, which is used in countless dishes. This recipe empowers you to create your own jar to have on hand for easy cooking later, allowing you to skip the laborious chopping and sauteing. Onions, garlic, and different-colored bell peppers are tossed into a food processor and cooked down into a thick paste. Then, store it in a jar for up to a week to use as the seasoning base for your soups, stews, sauces, and more.

Recipe: Easy Sofrito

One-Pan Chicken Marsala

pan of chicken marsala
pan of chicken marsala - Erin Johnson/Daily Meal

One-pan meals are the backbone of a weeknight cook's recipe rotation, and this chicken marsala is a fair contender to add to the mix. Even better, it all comes together in about 20 minutes. Hearty mushrooms are cooked down and used as the base for a cream sauce, with dredged sauteed flour and Italian seasoning breaded chicken breasts as the star. And, of course, you can't forget the Marsala wine. And if you're bored of chicken, this Marsala sauce also works great with pork chops.

Recipe: One-Pan Chicken Marsala

Spinach Artichoke Frittata

spinach artichoke frittata in bowl, slice on plate
spinach artichoke frittata in bowl, slice on plate - Kristen Carli/Daily Meal

Yes, you can even take the Mediterranean inspiration to the most important meal of the day: Breakfast (or brunch). Spinach and artichoke, a classic combination, come together in this frittata to make a crowd-pleasing, low-fuss meal. Goat cheese, artichoke hearts, milk, salt, and pepper are scrambled into the egg mixture. Combine it with your sauteed spinach and pop it in the oven, and it's ready in approximately 25 minutes. You could top with extra goat or feta cheese or even dab on a little hot sauce if you crave a bit of spice.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Frittata

Lemon Olive Oil Dump Cake

slice of lemon olive oil dump cake, fork
slice of lemon olive oil dump cake, fork - Deniz Vergara/Daily Meal

Just because a Mediterranean diet is known for health-conscious foods doesn't mean we can't satisfy the sweet tooth. If you're not much of a baker, this dump cake is an approachable place to start, promising an easy dessert or breakfast treat that comes together in one baking pan. A topping of granulated sugar before baking helps give this cake a crispy, sweet top layer. To brighten up the presentation, garnish with a few fresh lemon slices and you're golden.

Recipe: Lemon Olive Oil Dump Cake

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.