During the past year, many people have missed the opportunity to travel and experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the world, but it’s easy to explore other cultures and cuisines by experimenting in the kitchen.
If you’re looking to transport your taste buds to the shores of Spain or the beaches of Greece, one of the best places to start is with the Mediterranean Diet. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian recommends these tips to help home cooks elevate their dishes and easily incorporate the popular diet into everyday cooking.
Reach for pantry staples. There’s no single definition of the Mediterranean Diet, but it’s high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil and seafood. By keeping your pantry stocked with canned versions of ingredients like beans and fish you can easily add them to your favorite dishes. Yellowfin Tuna Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto and Dates, and Tuna Aioli Dip with Balsamic Drizzle are flavorful ways to bring Mediterranean flair to your dinner table.
Add seafood. Eating more seafood is one of the leading principles of the Mediterranean Diet. Tuna salad is one tried-and-true dish that can help incorporate fish into your menu. To make it more nutritious, opt for tuna that’s packed in extra-virgin olive oil, so you don’t have to add much mayo to the base. Tuna provides a tasteful addition to recipes and is high in protein, a great source of omega-3s and has a uniquely rich and savory flavor that offers a taste of the Mediterranean in every bite.
Visit genovaseafood.com for more recipe inspiration.
TUNA AIOLI DIP WITH BALSAMIC DRIZZLE
6 ounces albacore tuna in olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 dried bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Raw vegetables, for dipping
Drain tuna, reserving 2 tablespoons oil.
In small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Bring to boil and reduce until syrupy, about 1 tablespoon. Let cool slightly; discard bay leaf and rosemary sprig.
In blender or food processor, process tuna and reserved oil, mayonnaise, capers, anchovies and lemon juice to make a smooth dip. Transfer to a flat serving bowl. Drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve with raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cucumber spears, endive leaves, sliced fennel and bell pepper strips. Serves 4.
YELLOWFIN TUNA PASTA SALAD WITH ARUGULA PESTO AND DATES
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 cups arugula
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for garnish
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces whole-wheat orecchiette pasta
2 (5-ounce) cans yellowfin tuna in olive oil, drained
1/2 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/2 cup dates, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup dill, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
On a sheetpan, toast pine nuts at 325 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Stir arugula into boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 30 seconds. Drain arugula, immediately shock in ice water and set aside to fully drain; cover with a towel.
In blender or food processor, combine arugula, toasted pine nuts, garlic, butter (if using), 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Puree on high, incorporating olive oil to desired thickness.
Place pesto in bowl and cover tightly to avoid discoloring.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Add pasta and return to boil, stirring occasionally. Taste pasta for doneness 2 minutes earlier than package instructions. Once cooked, drain and transfer to large serving bowl. Do not rinse.
Add pesto to pasta and stir gently until evenly distributed. Fold in tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, dates and olives. Divide between shallow bowls and finish with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano, dill and parsley, if desired. Serves 4.