39 Best Mediterranean Dishes and Popular Foods

Mediterranean dishes are a diverse blend of fresh produce, olive oil, grains, and seafood from countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

Lastest Updated April 22, 2024
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Basic Information

Mediterranean Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Olive oil, wheat, grapes, fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, fish, seafood

Common Cooking Methods

Grilling, roasting, slow-cooking, baking, stewing


Appetizer, main course, dessert, salad, soup


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Savory, sweet, sour, complex, neutral

Eating Etiquette

Communal plates, multiple courses from appetizers to mains and sweets

Meal Presentation

Variety of small dishes served together, encouraging diversity of flavors

Culinary Festivals

Mouloud, Achoura, Amazigh New Year Yennayer, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Christmas, Easter

Influence and Fusion

Influences from European, Asian, and African culinary traditions
Origin and Region

Mediterranean Food: Origin and Region



Cuisine’s Regions

Southern Europe, North Africa, Western Asia
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Mediterranean Food

  • Soups

    Soups in Mediterranean cuisine are known for their rich flavors, often made with a base of fresh vegetables, legumes, and sometimes meats or seafood.

    These soups range from light, clear broths to more substantial, creamy variations, often enhanced with a medley of herbs and spices.

    Ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil are staples. Mediterranean soups can be served as a starter or as a main course, paired with crusty bread for a complete meal.

  • Stews

    Stews in this cuisine often feature a combination of meats, vegetables, and legumes, simmered in a rich, savory sauce.

    Spices and herbs play a crucial role in seasoning these stews, with each region adding its unique twist to the recipe.

    Mediterranean stews are typically enjoyed with a side of rice, couscous, or bread, making them a filling and satisfying option for any meal.

  • Bread and doughs

    Bread and doughs form an integral part of Mediterranean meals, ranging from fluffy, leavened breads to thin, crispy flatbreads.

    These are often baked in wood-fired ovens, imparting a distinct smoky flavor.

    Doughs are versatile and can be used to make a variety of items, including pizzas, pies, and pastries, often filled with cheese, meats, or vegetables.

    Olive oil is a common ingredient in Mediterranean bread dishes, contributing to their moist texture and rich flavor.

  • Grilled and barbecued dishes

    Grilled and barbecued dishes are a highlight of Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing the region’s love for fresh, high-quality ingredients cooked over an open flame.

    Meats, seafood, and vegetables are marinated with herbs, spices, and olive oil, then grilled to perfection, creating a smoky, charred exterior and a tender, juicy interior.

    These dishes are often served with simple sides like salads or grilled vegetables, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine.

  • Rice dishes

    Rice dishes are diverse and abundant in Mediterranean cuisine, often serving as the centerpiece of a meal. Paella, risottos, and pilafs are popular examples.

    These dishes are typically prepared with a variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables, seasoned with aromatic spices and herbs, and cooked until the rice is flavorful and tender.

    Rice dishes are frequently enjoyed in communal settings, bringing people together over a shared love for food.

  • Condiments and sauces

    Condiments and sauces are essential in adding depth and complexity to Mediterranean dishes.

    From the tangy, creamy tzatziki to the rich, smoky baba ghanoush, these accompaniments are made with a base of fresh ingredients like yogurt, eggplants, and tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, herbs, and spices.

    They are used to enhance the flavor of grilled meats, vegetables, and breads, or served as part of a mezze platter, adding a burst of flavor to every bite.

Mediterranean dishes are delicacies commonly savored in the vast and culturally rich region surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, spanning Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

This area’s cuisine is a melting pot, drawing influences from European delicacies, African culinary creations, and Asian specialties.

Key components include olive oil, which is used extensively for cooking and dressing; wheat, from which bread, pasta, and couscous are made; and grapes, which are consumed as fresh fruit, dried as raisins, or fermented into wine.

Mediterranean cooking is characterized by its emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, grains, fish, and seafood, with a moderate use of dairy and meat.

The flavors are typically bold and aromatic, derived from a variety of herbs and spices like rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, and cumin. The cuisine is also known for its use of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.

Cooking methods across the region, including grilling, roasting, and slow-cooking, help preserve the natural flavors and nutrients of ingredients

Stews and soups are common, often featuring a tomato base with a variety of vegetables and meats. Seafood dishes are particularly prominent along the coastal areas, where fish is often grilled, baked, or incorporated into rich stews.

In the region, the tradition of serving a variety of small dishes, known as meze, fosters communal dining and introduces a diversity of flavors in a single meal.

In addition to exploring the most popular dishes, I delve into traditional specialties, their global appeal, and health benefits.

Next, I’ll guide you through the features of regional cuisine, the best culinary spots in the Mediterranean, highlighting unique street foods’ features, where to find them, their significance in local festivities, and dining etiquette.

Plus, you can compare Mediterranean fare with Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines, uncover tips on ideal food and drink combos, and have the lowdown on the Mediterranean diet, including dos and don’ts.

Traditional Mediterranean food is characterized by the following factors:

  • Fresh Ingredients: Emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
  • Olive Oil: Central to cooking, used for sautéing and as a dressing.
  • Herbs and Spices: Used generously to enhance flavors without heavy sauces.
  • Whole Grains: Staples like wheat and barley are common, found in breads and pastas.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Incorporated for their healthy fats.
  • Dairy: Cheese and yogurt are consumed in moderation.
  • Fish and Poultry: Included in the diet, but in moderate amounts.
  • Wine: Often enjoyed with meals, but consumed in moderation.
  • Seasonal and Local: Focus on using ingredients that are in season and locally available.

Traditional Mediterranean cuisine, with its rich flavors and diverse ingredients, has become a cornerstone of culinary artistry worldwide.

Mediterranean cuisine, known for its flavorful dishes and health benefits, has garnered worldwide acclaim, influenced by cultural traditions, migration, and globalization.

  • Global Appeal: Mediterranean food’s global popularity stems from its delicious, healthy ingredients and the rich culinary traditions of countries like Italy, Spain, and Greece.
  • Migration and Globalization: The international spread of Mediterranean cuisine is largely due to migration and globalization. Immigrants have carried their culinary traditions abroad, while global media, travel, and trade have introduced these foods to a broader audience.
  • Italian Cuisine’s Worldwide Popularity: Italian dishes, integral to Mediterranean cuisine, are celebrated globally. Pasta and pizza, for instance, have become staples in North America, and Italian restaurants are increasingly popular in Asia.
  • Health Benefits: The Mediterranean diet, known for its heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber, has attracted global attention for its potential to reduce heart disease risk and improve overall health.
  • Culinary Diversity and Adaptation: Dishes such as risotto from Northern Italy and caldo verde from Portugal highlight Mediterranean cuisine’s diversity and its ability to appeal to various tastes.
  • Iconic Dishes and Their Global Journey: Dolmas, pasta, and cured meats like prosciutto di Parma and Jamon de Serrano illustrate the widespread appeal and versatility of Mediterranean food, with each region adding its unique twist.
  • Popularity in Non-Mediterranean Countries: Dishes such as shakshuka and fatteh have transcended their regional origins to become favorites in countries like Israel and beyond.

This widespread acclaim is not just due to its taste but also to the health benefits it offers, making it a favorite among food enthusiasts across the globe.

Mediterranean food is considered healthy for various reasons, reflecting the traditional eating habits in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Plant-based Focus: The diet emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods, with a heavy focus on plants rather than red meat. It includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, bread and other grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds​​.
  • Healthy Fats: Olive oil is the primary fat source, recognized for its heart-health benefits. The diet also encourages consumption of avocados, nuts, and seeds​​.
  • Moderate Amounts of Dairy and Protein: Dairy products, eggs, fish, and poultry are included in low to moderate amounts, with fish and poultry being more common than red meat​​.
  • Limited Red Meat and Sweets: Red meat and sugary desserts are saved for special occasions, reducing the intake of saturated fats and added sugars​​.
  • Herbs and Spices over Salt: Flavoring foods with herbs and spices instead of salt is encouraged for better heart health​

In the next part, let’s uncover the vast array of Mediterranean dishes.

39 Popular Mediterranean dishes with Filters

Explore the colorful Mediterranean cuisine through the top 39 dishes, sorted by popularity. Discover your new favorite by filtering through ingredients, flavors, cooking methods, types of dishes, and meal times.

From traditional classics and national favorites to inventive fusion options, street food, and exotic delicacies, there’s something to delight every palate.

  • Most popular dishes in Mediterranean cuisine are beloved classics that have won the hearts of both locals and food enthusiasts worldwide.
  • These dishes, such as pizza, pasta, and gyros, are staples in many restaurants and homes.
  • They embody the essence of Mediterranean cooking, combining olive oil, herbs, and a variety of local produce.
  • National dishes in many Mediterranean countries are a reflection of their cultural heritage and culinary traditions.
  • For example, Greece is renowned for its moussaka, a layered eggplant and meat casserole, while Egypt takes pride in koshary, a comforting mix of rice, pasta, and lentils.
  • These dishes are more than just food; they are a symbol of national identity and history.
  • Traditional dishes in the Mediterranean region are diverse and deeply rooted in history, ranging from the rich, slow-cooked stews of North Africa to the vibrant, fresh salads of the Levant.
  • These dishes showcase the regional diversity and the blend of flavors that Mediterranean cuisine is known for, often passed down through generations and celebrated in family gatherings and festive occasions.
  • Street food in the Mediterranean offers a glimpse into the everyday culinary life of its people, with dishes like falafel, souvlaki, and various savory pies readily available in bustling markets and street corners.
  • These foods provide a quick, affordable, and delicious way to experience the local culture and are perfect for on-the-go eating.

Exotic dishes in the Mediterranean include lesser-known regional specialties that use unique ingredients or cooking techniques.

Fusion dishes in Mediterranean cuisine reflect the region’s long history of trade and cultural exchange, blending traditional Mediterranean flavors with elements from other cuisines.

Delicious Round Pizzas


  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Pizza, originating from Italy, is a beloved dish featuring a round, flat dough base traditionally topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and various other ingredients like vegetables, meats, and herbs.

It is baked at high temperatures, often in a wood-fired oven, creating a deliciously crispy crust. The concept of pizza has evolved over centuries, with the modern version popularized in Naples.

Recognized for its cultural significance, Neapolitan pizza has even been listed as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. Pizza has numerous variations worldwide, adapting to local tastes and ingredients, making it a global favorite.

In the Mediterranean region, particularly in Italy, it remains a staple of the cuisine, enjoyed in traditional pizzerias and casual dining settings alike.

A Portion Of Tagliatelle


  • National
  • Traditional

Pasta, a cornerstone of Italian cuisine, is a type of noodle made from an unleavened dough of wheat flour mixed with water or eggs. It is then formed into various shapes and cooked by boiling or baking.

Originating from Italy, pasta comes in two main categories: dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). There are over 310 known pasta shapes with more than 1,300 names, which can vary by region within Italy.

Pasta is versatile in its culinary uses, often served with a sauce, used in soups, or baked in casseroles. It is a staple food in Mediterranean cuisine and has been embraced globally, with each culture adapting it to local tastes and ingredients.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Hummus, also known as hommus or houmous in some regions, is a traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dish made from a blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, and garlic.

This savory spread or dip is often garnished with olive oil, whole chickpeas, parsley, and paprika, and is commonly served with pita bread.

It is enjoyed in various countries around the Mediterranean and beyond, including Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon. Hummus is not specifically associated with any festivals or celebrations but is a versatile dish enjoyed on various occasions.

Seekh Kabab


  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Kebab, also known as kabob in North America, is a widely enjoyed dish originating from the Middle East and has become a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. It is known for its versatility, being served as anything from street food to a traditional dish in various forms. Popular types include Shish kebab (skewered and grilled meat), Doner kebab (meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie), and Adana kebab (spicy minced meat from Turkey).

Kebabs have gained international popularity, often featured at social gatherings and celebrations, symbolizing hospitality and festivity across different cultures.

Meat And Vegetable Sandwich


  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Gyros, also known as gyro in some regions, is a popular Greek street food consisting of meat traditionally cooked on a vertical rotisserie, then thinly sliced and served wrapped in pita bread with a variety of accompaniments such as tomato, onion, fried potatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

Originating in Greece, gyros is a Mediterranean staple, typically made with pork or chicken, although beef and lamb variations are found in other countries.

This dish shares similarities with other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes like shawarma and doner kebab, highlighting the rich cross-cultural influences in the region’s cuisine.

Gyros is enjoyed in many Mediterranean countries and has gained popularity worldwide, especially in urban areas with vibrant street food cultures.

Fresh Greek Salad

Greek Salad

  • National
  • Traditional

Greek salad, also known as horiatiki salad, is a traditional dish in Greek cuisine, typically comprising tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives.

The salad is seasoned with salt, Greek oregano, lemon juice, and olive oil, embodying the simplicity and freshness of Mediterranean flavors. It is often considered a farmer’s meal, reflecting the ingredients readily available to a Greek farmer.

This salad is popular not only in Greece but has gained popularity across the Mediterranean and beyond, with variations adapting to local tastes and ingredient availability.

In some regions, additional ingredients like green bell peppers or caper berries might be included, especially in the Dodecanese islands.

Greek salad is commonly enjoyed as a refreshing, light meal or as a side dish, particularly during the warmer months.

Baklava Macedonian


  • National
  • Traditional

Baklava is a rich, multi-layered pastry, beloved in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, made from thin sheets of filo dough, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey.

Its origins are debated, with some tracing it back to ancient civilizations, but it has become a staple dessert in countries like Greece, Turkey, Iran, and across the Arab world, as well as in the Balkans and Central Asia.

Baklava varies significantly by region; for example, the Greek version often uses walnuts and honey, while in Turkey, pistachios are more common.

This dessert is particularly associated with festive occasions in many cultures, such as Eid in the Arab world and during Ramadan.

Spanish Rice


  • National
  • Traditional

Paella is a renowned Mediterranean rice dish that hails from Valencia, Spain. It is considered a national dish of Spain and embodies the rich culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region.

Paella is celebrated for its versatility and has numerous famous variations, including Paella Valenciana, which features rabbit, chicken, and green beans, and Paella de Marisco, which is laden with seafood.

This dish is popular not only in its home country but also across the Mediterranean and around the world. Traditionally cooked in a wide, shallow pan over an open fire, paella is often associated with social gatherings and festive occasions.



  • Fusion
  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Falafel, also known as ta’amiya in Egypt and Sudan, is a popular Mediterranean street food. Originating from Egypt, this deep-fried ball or patty is made from ground chickpeas, broad beans, or both, and is seasoned with various herbs and spices.

It is traditionally served in a pita or wrapped in flatbread, often accompanied by salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and tahini-based sauces. It is commonly enjoyed in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and beyond the Mediterranean region.

In addition to being a daily fare, falafel is sometimes consumed during religious festivals such as Ramadan and Lent.

Tajine Chicken


  • National
  • Traditional

Tajine, also spelled tagine, is a quintessential North African dish that derives its name from the earthenware pot it is cooked in. This dish is a staple in Moroccan and Algerian cuisines but is enjoyed across the Mediterranean and beyond.

Tajines are slow-cooked stews that can include a variety of ingredients such as meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and fruits, all simmered with a blend of aromatic spices like ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron.

The unique cooking process in the tajine pot, with its conical lid, allows for the steam to condense and keep the stew moist, making it a flavorful and tender meal.

Tajines often feature a sweet and savory element, with popular variations including lamb with prunes or chicken with preserved lemons and olives.

Greek Beef And Eggplant Lasagna


  • National
  • Traditional

Moussaka is a traditional dish in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly famous in Greece, where it was popularized in its modern form in the 1920s by the chef Nikolaos Tselementes.

This layered casserole is typically made with eggplants or potatoes, ground meat (often lamb), and topped with a creamy béchamel sauce, then baked to perfection.

Variations of moussaka are found throughout the Balkans, Middle East, and Eastern Mediterranean, with each region adding its unique twist.

For example, in Egypt, moussaka is often prepared without béchamel and served with a tomato sauce, sometimes even enjoyed cold. In Turkey, the dish is more likely to be served deconstructed, with fried eggplant slices covered in a savory tomato-based meat sauce.

Moussaka is a beloved dish that transcends borders, enjoyed in various forms from Greece to the Levant and beyond, often associated with family gatherings and festive occasions.

Moroccan Couscous


  • National
  • Traditional

Couscous is a traditional North African dish made from small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina that is a staple in the Maghrebi cuisines of Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, and Libya. It is typically accompanied by a stew that is spooned over it

Couscous has a unique preparation method where the semolina is moistened and then formed into small granules before being steamed.

This dish is versatile and can be found in various forms across the Mediterranean, with some variations including pearl millet, sorghum, and bulgur.

In 2020, couscous was recognized by UNESCO for its cultural significance, highlighting its role in the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean and beyond.

Ratatouille Nicoise


  • Traditional

Ratatouille is a classic dish from the Provence region of France, particularly associated with the city of Nice. It is a stewed vegetable dish, celebrated for its vibrant colors and blend of flavors.

The main ingredients typically include tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and a mix of fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or marjoram, which contribute to its distinctive taste.

Ratatouille can be served as a side dish, a main course, or even as a filling for omelets or crepes.

The preparation of ratatouille varies, with some cooks preferring to sauté each vegetable separately to maintain its individual flavor before combining them, while others cook all the vegetables together for a more blended taste.

Ratatouille has gained international recognition, not only for its delicious flavor but also as a symbol of Mediterranean cooking, emphasizing fresh, seasonal produce.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Shawarma is a savory dish from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, consisting of meat that is marinated, then stacked in a cone-like shape and roasted slowly on a vertical rotisserie or spit.

Traditionally made with lamb, chicken, beef, or a mixture of meats, the thinly sliced cuts are served wrapped in a flatbread, such as pita or laffa, often accompanied by vegetables, fries, and various sauces like tahini or garlic cream.

Shawarma is a popular street food across the Mediterranean, Middle East, and beyond, with variations like the Greek Gyro and the Mexican Al pastor. It’s commonly enjoyed at outdoor markets, festivals, and as a quick, flavorful meal.

Famous Greek Sauce


  • Traditional

Tzatziki, also known as cacık or tarator in some regions, is a refreshing Mediterranean dip or sauce made primarily from yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and often flavored with herbs like dill or mint.

Originating from the cuisine of Southeastern Europe and West Asia, tzatziki is a versatile condiment that accompanies a variety of dishes, including grilled meats, gyros, and as part of a mezze platter.

It’s celebrated in countries like Greece, Turkey, and across the Balkans, where it’s enjoyed in both casual and festive settings, making it a beloved element of Mediterranean dining culture.

Spanish Cold Tomato Soup


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Gazpacho, also known as Andalusian gazpacho, is a refreshing cold soup made from raw, blended vegetables, originating from the southern regions of the Iberian Peninsula.

A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, this traditional dish is especially popular in Spain and Portugal during the hot summer months.

Gazpacho is known for its variations such as Salmorejo and Ajoblanco, which are also cold soups but with different ingredient profiles.

The dish is celebrated for its simplicity and the use of fresh, ripe vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, making it a quintessential summer fare in Mediterranean countries and beyond.

Italian White Pizza For Breakfast


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Focaccia is an Italian flatbread known for its olive oil-rich crust and airy, soft interior. Versatile in nature, this bread is often seasoned with herbs like rosemary or topped with various ingredients such as olives, tomatoes, and onions.

Focaccia can serve as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza, or simply enjoyed on its own. It originates from the Mediterranean region, particularly in Italy, where it’s a staple part of the cuisine.

Variations of focaccia include Focaccia di Recco, filled with cheese, and Focaccia Barese, topped with tomatoes and olives. This bread is popular not only in Mediterranean countries but also worldwide, often found in Italian restaurants and bakeries.

Baba Ganoush Israeli

Baba Ghanoush

  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Baba ghanoush is a Levantine appetizer, widely enjoyed across the Mediterranean and beyond, including countries like Iraq, Armenia, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, and Turkey.

It is made from roasted eggplant blended with olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings, and tahini, creating a rich, smoky dip. Traditionally, the eggplant is cooked over an open flame before peeling, which imparts a distinctive smoky flavor to the dish.

Baba ghanoush is commonly served as a meze or starter, often accompanied by pita bread.

Variations of the dish include spices like coriander and cumin, and it is sometimes confused with or related to mutabbal, a similar dish that is sometimes considered a spicier version of baba ghanoush.



  • Traditional

Kofta is a term used to describe a variety of meatball or meatloaf dishes found in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Central Asian cuisines.

Typically made from ground meat mixed with spices and onions, koftas can be grilled, fried, steamed, or baked and are often served with a side of rice or bread.

Variations of kofta include the Indian Malai Kofta, the Middle Eastern Kebab, and the Balkan Ćevapi. This dish is popular in countries like Turkey, Greece, India, and Iran, and is often featured in festive meals and family gatherings.



  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Tabbouleh, also known as tabouli, is a traditional Levantine salad that has become a beloved part of Mediterranean cuisine.

This refreshing dish is primarily made from finely chopped parsley, with additions of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, mint, onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Often served as part of a mezze platter, tabbouleh is popular in countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. It’s associated with spring and summer celebrations due to its fresh and light ingredients, making it a common dish at outdoor gatherings and festive occasions.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Pita, also known as Arabic bread or Greek bread in some regions, is a type of yeast-leavened round flatbread that originates from the Mediterranean and Levant areas.

This traditional bread is baked from wheat flour and is well-known for its interior pocket, making it a versatile component in various dishes.

Pita is popular in countries around the Mediterranean Sea and has spread to other parts of the world due to its adaptability in different culinary traditions.

There are several variations of pita, including those without pockets, and it is commonly used to scoop sauces or dips like hummus, or to wrap foods such as kebabs, gyros, and falafel. Pita is enjoyed in both everyday meals and special gatherings.

Stuffed Grape Leaves


  • National
  • Traditional

Dolma refers to a family of stuffed dishes that are a hallmark of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Derived from the Turkish word for ‘stuffed,’ dolma refers to dishes typically involving vegetables like grape leaves, peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini filled with a mixture of rice, meats, and spices.

One of the most famous variations is the grape leaf dolma, known as “sarma,” which can be served hot or cold and is often accompanied by yogurt.

Dolma is widely enjoyed in countries such as Turkey, Greece, Armenia, and Iran, and it’s a common feature at festive occasions and family gatherings, symbolizing a rich tradition of communal meals and hospitality.

Traditional Rice Comes From Lombardy


  • Traditional

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish known for its creamy consistency, achieved by cooking starchy rice varieties like Arborio or Carnaroli in broth to a creamy consistency.

The dish is often enriched with ingredients such as butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese, and can include a wide range of other ingredients like mushrooms (Risotto ai funghi), seafood (Risotto al frutti di mare), or saffron (Risotto alla Milanese).

Originating from Northern Italy, risotto has gained widespread popularity across the Mediterranean and beyond, often served as a primo (first course) in Italian dining and featured in special occasions and gourmet restaurants.

Grilled Pork Skewers


  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Souvlaki is a popular Greek street food that consists of small pieces of meat, often pork, chicken, beef, or lamb, grilled on a skewer.

Known for its simplicity and delicious taste, souvlaki is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and is often served wrapped in pita bread with various accompaniments like tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and onions.

This dish has various regional variations across Greece and has gained popularity in other Mediterranean countries and beyond, often enjoyed at casual gatherings and local festivals.

This Appetizer Mechoui


  • Traditional

Méchoui is a traditional North African dish that involves spit-roasting a whole sheep or lamb over a fire. This culinary practice is deeply rooted in the Maghrebi cuisine, particularly popular in countries like Algeria and Morocco.

Méchoui is known for its rich, smoky flavor, achieved by slow-roasting the meat next to a pile of embers, allowing it to cook evenly and retain its juices.

The dish is often seasoned with a blend of spices, including ras el hanout. It is traditionally served at large gatherings or celebrations, making it a communal meal that brings people together.

Halloumi Cheese

Halloumi Cheese

  • Traditional

Halloumi is a traditional semi-hard cheese originating from Cyprus, made primarily from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and occasionally cow’s milk.

Known for its unique squeaky texture and high melting point, Halloumi can be grilled or fried without losing its shape, making it a favored choice for a variety of dishes.

It’s a popular component in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and has gained international popularity for its versatility in cooking.

Halloumi can be enjoyed raw, but it is often served grilled or fried, accompanied by vegetables or as part of salads and sandwiches.

Slow Cooked Lamb


  • National
  • Traditional

Kleftiko, a traditional Greek dish, is a slow-cooked lamb delicacy, originally marinated in garlic, lemon juice, and a blend of herbs and spices, then baked in a sealed container.

This method of cooking, which tenderizes the meat until it effortlessly falls off the bone, is a testament to the dish’s origins among the klephts, Greek bandits of the countryside who needed to cook their stolen meat in hidden, sealed pits to avoid detection by the smoke.

Kleftiko, which means “in the style of the klephts,” is a celebrated part of Greek cuisine, particularly known for its tender, flavorful, and aromatic qualities.

This dish is often enjoyed in Greek tavernas and is a staple at festive occasions and family gatherings, embodying the rich culinary traditions of Greece.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

  • Traditional

Lentil soup is a hearty and nutritious dish that is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, known for its simplicity and rich flavor.

Made primarily with lentils, the soup can include a variety of vegetables, herbs, and sometimes meat, offering numerous variations such as the spicy red lentil soup in Turkey or the thicker, more stew-like versions in Greece.

Lentil soup is celebrated for its health benefits, being rich in protein, fiber, and minerals. It’s a common comfort food in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. It is often served during colder months and religious fasting periods.

Borek Minced Meat Pasty


  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Börek, also known as burek in some regions, is a traditional pastry that originates from the Mediterranean and extends to the Balkans and the Middle East.

It consists of thin layers of dough such as phyllo or yufka, which are filled with a variety of ingredients including cheese, minced meat, vegetables, or potatoes.

Börek is versatile and can be prepared in different shapes like rolls, spirals, or pies, making it a popular dish in countries like Turkey, Greece, and across the Balkans.

There are many famous variations of börek, such as Su böreği (water börek) and Sigara böreği (cigar börek). This dish is often enjoyed as a snack or a light meal and is a staple at gatherings and special occasions.



  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Koshary, also known as kushari or koshari, is Egypt’s national dish and beloved street food. This unique dish is a mix of pasta, rice, lentils, and vermicelli, all topped with a spicy tomato sauce, then garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions.

Koshary is a vegetarian dish that embodies the flavors and textures of Mediterranean cuisine, offering a hearty and satisfying meal. It’s particularly popular in Cairo and other parts of Egypt, where it’s enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

The dish has a rich history, with some suggesting its origins date back to Ancient Egypt. Koshary is not only a staple food in Egypt but has also gained popularity in other regions, with variations found in Eastern Arabia, Yemen, and even outside the Mediterranean region.

It’s often associated with communal eating and is a common choice for large gatherings and celebrations.

Musakhan Sumac Chicken


  • National
  • Traditional

Musakhan, also known as muhammar, is a traditional Palestinian dish that consists of roasted chicken seasoned with sumac, allspice, saffron, and pine nuts, served atop taboon bread.

Recognized as the national dish of Palestine, Musakhan is celebrated for its simplicity and the accessibility of its ingredients, which are staples of Palestinian cuisine.

This dish is particularly popular among Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and Jordanians, and can also be found in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.

Musakhan is typically enjoyed with one’s hands and is often accompanied by soup. It’s a dish that embodies the flavors and culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region.

Greek Bean Soup For Vegetarians


  • National
  • Traditional

Fasolada, known as the “national food of the Greeks,” is a traditional Mediterranean white bean soup. It’s a simple yet hearty dish made with white beans, olive oil, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onion, often flavored with a tomato-based sauce.

Fasolada is a staple in Greek, Mediterranean, and Cypriot cuisines, embodying the essence of comfort food in these regions. It’s typically served with olives and crusty bread, making it a complete meal.

This dish is especially popular during the colder months and is sometimes associated with religious fasting periods in Greece, where it’s consumed as a meat-free option.

Ful Medames

Ful Medames

  • National
  • Traditional

Ful medames is a traditional Egyptian dish, often considered the national dish of Egypt. It’s a hearty stew made from fava beans that are slowly cooked and then seasoned with olive oil, cumin, and other spices.

The dish is typically garnished with fresh ingredients like parsley, garlic, onion, and lemon juice, making it a vibrant and flavorful meal. Ful medames is a staple in Egyptian cuisine and is popular across the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

It’s commonly associated with breakfast but can be enjoyed at any meal. The dish has various regional variations, with some including ingredients like chickpeas, hot sauce, garlic juice, and vinegar.



  • National
  • Traditional

Kibbeh, a key Mediterranean dish, especially in Lebanon and Syria, is made of finely ground meat (lamb or beef), bulgur wheat, and Levantine spices, shaped in various forms. It can be fried, baked, grilled, or served raw as Kibbeh nayyeh.

Popular across the Mediterranean and in countries like Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and Turkey, kibbeh is known for its versatility with variations such as Kibbeh sumāqiyye (with sumac), Kibbeh labaniyye (with yogurt), and Kibbeh safarjaliyye (with quince).

Aleppo is renowned for its diverse kibbeh recipes. The raw version, Kibbeh nayyeh, is a special treat often served with olive oil, mint, green onions, and pita bread, symbolizing hospitality.



  • Exotic
  • National
  • Traditional

Mulukhiyah, also known as molokhiyya, melokhiyya, or ewedu, is a traditional dish in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly popular in Egypt and the Levant region, including countries like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan.

This dish is made from the leaves of the jute plant, known as Corchorus olitorius, which are known for their slightly bitter taste and mucilaginous texture when cooked, similar to okra.

Mulukhiyah is typically prepared as a soup or stew, often flavored with garlic, coriander, and sometimes meat, such as chicken, rabbit, or lamb, depending on regional preferences.

In Egypt, it’s considered a national dish and is commonly served with rice or bread. Variations of mulukhiyah can also be found in Cyprus, where it’s adapted to local tastes.



  • Traditional

Hamin, also known as dafina, is a traditional Sephardic Jewish Sabbath stew originating from Iberia. This hearty dish is composed of whole grains, meat cubes, chickpeas or beans, onions, and cumin, and is slow-cooked to conform with Jewish laws prohibiting cooking on the Sabbath.

Hamin is designed to be prepared before the Sabbath begins and kept warm until it’s served the following day.

Over time, various Jewish communities have developed their own versions of this stew, adapting it to local ingredients and culinary influences. This has resulted in a wide array of hamin variations across Sephardi and Ashkenazi kitchens worldwide.



  • National
  • Traditional

Mansaf, the national dish of Jordan, is a traditional Levantine meal consisting of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt, served with rice or bulgur, and often accompanied by shrak bread.

This dish is a staple in Jordanian cuisine and is also enjoyed in other parts of the Levant, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

Mansaf is known for its unique preparation and presentation, often garnished with almonds and pine nuts, and is deeply rooted in Jordanian culture and traditions.

It is typically served on special occasions such as weddings, births, graduations, and major holidays like Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Christmas, Easter, and Jordan’s Independence Day.

Bazin Bread

Bazin Bread

  • Traditional

Bazin bread is a traditional, national dish of Libya, known for its unique preparation and serving style. This unleavened bread is made from barley, water, and salt, and is known for its paste-like and hardened texture.

The dough is boiled, beaten into shape using a special stick called a magraf, and then either baked or steamed to achieve its final form.

Often served in a dome or pyramid shape, tomato sauce, eggs, potatoes, and mutton typically accompany Bazin Bread. The dish is enjoyed communally, often eaten with the fingers, and is a staple at Libyan meals.



  • Traditional

Chakhchoukha, also known as chekhechoukha, is a traditional Algerian dish that consists of small pieces of flatbread mixed with a hearty tomato-based stew. This dish is a staple in Algerian cuisine, particularly celebrated in regions like Constantine, Batna, Biskra, and Ms’sila.

Chakhchoukha is often associated with festive occasions and is especially popular during celebrations such as Mouloud (the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday), Achoura, and the Amazigh New Year, Yennayer.

The dish has several variations, including Chakhchoukha Biskria and Chakhchoukhat dfar, each bringing a unique twist to the traditional recipe.

List of Mediterranean Dishes by Country

1-22 of 22 results
  • Bosnian Food Dishes

    17 Common Bosnian Foods and Dishes

  • Slovenian Food Dishes

    20 Outstanding Slovenian Dishes and Popular Foods

  • Palestinian Food Dishes

    20 Traditional Palestinian Food Dishes

  • Libyan Food Dishes

    22 Famous Libyan Dishes and Foods

  • Syrian Food Dishes

    22 Top Popular Syrian Food Dishes

  • Cypriot Food Dishes

    23 Famous Cypriot Dishes and Foods

  • Portuguese Food Dishes

    24 Essential Portuguese Food Dishes

  • Algerian Food Dishes

    24 Must-Try Algerian Food and Dishes

  • Albanian Food Dishes

    24 Traditional Dishes and Popular Foods in Albania

  • Moroccan Food Dishes

    26 Common Moroccan Dishes and Foods

  • Tunisian Food Dishes

    26 Popular Tunisian Food Dishes

  • Egyptian Food Dishes

    27 Famous Egyptian Dishes and Traditional Foods

  • Spanish Food Dishes

    27 Traditional Spanish Food Dishes

  • French Food Dishes

    30 Top French Dishes and Classic Foods

  • Greek Food Dishes

    31 Popular Greek Food Dishes

  • Italian Food Dishes

    32 Best Italian Dishes and Common Foods

  • Montenegrin Food Dishes

    32 Best Montenegrin Food Dishes

  • Turkish Food Dishes

    34 Best Turkish Dishes and Foods

  • Maltese Food Dishes

    34 Must-Try Maltese Food Dishes

  • Lebanese Food Dishes

    35 Popular Lebanese Food Dishes

  • Israeli Food Dishes

    35 Top Israeli Dishes and Foods

  • Croatian Food Dishes

    41 Classic Croatian Dishes and Foods

What Are the Features of Mediterranean Dishes by Regions?

This section breaks down the distinctive features of Mediterranean dishes by region:

  • Ingredients: Emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Olive oil is a staple fat, replacing butter and other oils. Seafood, poultry, and dairy are consumed in moderation, while red meat is limited.
  • Flavors: Herbs and spices like basil, oregano, rosemary, and garlic are prevalent, contributing to the vibrant flavors characteristic of Southern European dishes.
  • Dishes: Popular dishes include pasta, risotto, and pizza from Italy; tapas and paella from Spain; and Greek salads, moussaka, and gyros from Greece.
  • Ingredients: Focuses on vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts, with significant use of olive oil. Yogurt and cheese are common dairy options. Meat dishes often feature lamb and poultry.
  • Flavors: Spices and herbs such as mint, cumin, turmeric, and za’atar are essential, adding depth and complexity to the cuisine.
  • Dishes: Signature dishes include kebabs and shawarma from Turkey, hummus and falafel from Lebanon, and various mezze platters across the region.
  • Ingredients: The cuisine here is rich in vegetables, legumes, and grains, with a notable presence of fruits like figs, apricots, and dates. Meat dishes frequently include lamb and chicken.
  • Flavors: Northern African dishes are known for their bold use of spices, including saffron, cinnamon, cumin, and harissa (a hot chili pepper paste), creating distinctive and aromatic flavors.
  • Dishes: Couscous, tagines (slow-cooked stews), and pastilla (a sweet and savory pie) are hallmark dishes of the region.

The diversity of Mediterranean dishes by region highlights the unique blend of local ingredients and cultural influences. Next, explore which countries stand out in this culinary landscape.

What Are the Top Mediterranean Food Countries?

Below are the leading countries in Mediterranean cuisine, along with their culinary highlights:

  • Italy: Famous for its pasta and pizza, Italy’s cuisine utilizes wheat to produce dishes like delicious pizza doughs and a variety of pastas, often accompanied by wine​​.
  • Spain: Known for paella, a rice dish with meat or fish, and the popular potato omelette, Spain’s cuisine is rich in fresh vegetables and seafood​​.
  • France: With a reputation for culinary excellence, France offers dishes like ratatouille, a vegetable stew, and a variety of meats and desserts like calissons​​.
  • Greece: Feta cheese is a staple in Greece, where the local markets are full of fresh produce, olive oil, and handmade food items. Greek cuisine is known for its fresh salads, like horiatiki, and a variety of vegetable and legume dishes​​.
  • Turkey: A crossroads of cultures, Turkey’s cuisine features a rich array of spices and coffee. Street food, including spicy specialties and kebabs, plays a significant role in Turkish culinary traditions​​.
  • Maghreb Region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia): The Maghreb cuisine blends Mediterranean, African, and Middle Eastern influences, with couscous as a staple. Tagines, a type of stew, are commonly served, and the cuisine adheres to halal standards​​.
  • Levant (Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria): The Levant cuisine emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and legumes, with meat playing a secondary role. It’s known for its mezze culture, where a variety of small dishes are shared among diners​​.

Identifying the top Mediterranean food countries unveils a rich tapestry of flavors and traditions that lay the foundation for the widespread popularity of Mediterranean street food.

What Makes Mediterranean Street Food Famous?

Mediterranean street food is renowned for the following main reasons:

  • High-Quality Ingredients: Emphasizes fresh, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil.
  • Health Benefits: Known for contributing to a healthy diet.
  • Cultural Diversity: Reflects a mix of Middle Eastern, North African, and European influences, offering a variety of flavors.
  • Signature Dishes: Includes gyros, falafel, hummus, and grilled meats and seafood, seasoned with unique herbs and spices.
  • Eating Experience: Celebrates social and communal aspects, making food sharing a part of the culture.

The fame of Mediterranean street food lies in its ability to offer a quick, delicious, and authentic taste of regional cuisines, sparking curiosity about the countries that excel in this vibrant aspect of their food culture.

Which Mediterranean Countries Have the Best Street Food?

Exploring Mediterranean street food reveals a delightful array of flavors and dishes that reflect the region’s rich culinary diversity. Below is a quick look at the most famous countries:

  • Italy: Italy offers a variety of fried and flavorful street foods, including olive all’ascolana (deep-fried olives with minced meat), cuoppo napoletano (fried seafood or vegetable mix), and Sicily’s panelle (chickpea fritters).
  • Greece: Famous for its souvlaki (skewer-roasted meat served in pita), bougatsa (sweet or savory pastry), and gyros (sliced meat, similar to souvlaki), Greece provides a mix of savory and sweet street food options.
  • Spain: Celebrated for its paella, a versatile rice dish showcasing the country’s rich seafood, Spain adds a deliciously aromatic option to Mediterranean street food.
  • The Levantine Region: Including countries like Lebanon and Syria, this area is known for baba ganoush (eggplant dip) and hummus, both embodying the essence of Eastern Mediterranean appetizers.
  • Morocco: Renowned for its vibrant markets and dishes like couscous and snails, Morocco offers an exotic street food experience.
  • Egypt: Characterized by a variety of street foods, with koshary (a mix of pasta, rice, lentils, and chickpeas) standing out as a national favorite.
  • Turkey: Offers a diverse street food scene with a range of kebabs, mezes, and sweets like baklava, reflecting rich culinary traditions.

The best street food in Mediterranean countries showcases the art of combining simplicity with flavor. Right next to this part, you can consider the significance of these dishes in larger, more important celebrations.

What Are the Roles of Mediterranean Dishes in Important Celebrations?

Mediterranean cuisine is central to various celebrations, embodying cultural traditions and spiritual practices.

  • Lent: In this Christian period of fasting before Easter, meat and dairy are often avoided. Meals consist of vegetables, legumes, and grains, such as lentil soups and vegetable stews, symbolizing simplicity and spiritual growth.
  • Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha: In Islamic traditions, these festivals are marked by feasting. Eid al-Fitr, following Ramadan, features sweets and savory dishes including lamb stew, celebrating the end of fasting.
    Eid al-Adha involves sharing meat from a sacrificed animal, symbolizing devotion and generosity, with common dishes including kebabs and meat pies.
  • Ramadan: The fast ends daily with iftar, starting with dates and followed by a variety of dishes like soups, bread, salads, and mains with rice, meat, and vegetables, fostering community bonds.

Moving on, uncover the art of Mediterranean dining etiquette, emphasizing communal eating and respect for food.

What Is Mediterranean Dining Etiquette?

When dining in Mediterranean settings, several key etiquette points should be considered:

  • Multiple Courses: Typical meals may start with appetizers or meze, followed by main dishes, and end with fruits or sweets.
  • Communal Plates: Sharing food from a communal plate is common, highlighting inclusivity.
  • End of Meal Traditions: Meals often end with fruit rather than heavy desserts, emphasizing healthfulness.
  • Choosing Your Seat Wisely: In Mediterranean dining, the head of the table is considered the most honored position. Hence, it’s advisable to choose your seat with awareness of the cultural significance attached to seating arrangements​​.
  • Resting Utensils Etiquette: There are specific rules regarding how to rest your utensils when taking a break from eating, signaling you are finished eating, and when you are passing food.
  • Respectful Declining: Outright declining of food is not recommended. Due to the importance of hospitality and sharing, it’s more respectful to accept food when offered, or to decline very politely, indicating appreciation for the gesture​​.

Understanding Mediterranean dining etiquette, setting the stage for a comparison between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, where similarities in ingredients highlight the historical and cultural connections.

Mediterranean Dishes vs. Middle Eastern Dishes

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, while often grouped together due to geographical proximity and some overlapping ingredients, have distinct characteristics, flavors, and traditions. Here’s a comparison to highlight their differences:

Mediterranean Dishes

  • Geographical Area: Countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, Spain, and France.
  • Key Ingredients: Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, seafood, olive oil.
  • Staple Fats: Olive oil.
  • Dietary Focus: Emphasis on whole foods, lean proteins, health benefits.
  • Signature Dishes: Greek salad, Italian pasta, Spanish paella, French ratatouille.
  • Flavor Profile: Fresh, light, emphasizing seafood and olive oil.

Middle Eastern Dishes

  • Geographical Area: Countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iran, Israel, and Turkey and North Africa.
  • Key Ingredients: Legumes, rice, meats (lamb, chicken), aromatic spices (cumin, coriander, cardamom).
  • Staple Fats: Olive oil, ghee.
  • Dietary Focus: Rich flavors, communal eating experiences.
  • Signature Dishes: Hummus, falafel, kebabs, stuffed grape leaves.
  • Flavor Profile: Aromatic spices, deeper flavors, more use of meat and bread.

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary creations, despite sharing some ingredients and influences, each offer distinct flavors, ingredients, and culinary traditions, reflecting their unique cultural heritages.

Next, why don’t you compare Mediterranean dishes with Indian dishes, known for their intense spices and use of dairy.

Mediterranean Dishes vs. Indian Dishes

Mediterranean cuisine and Indian dishes are both rich and diverse, reflecting the cultural, historical, and geographical variety of their respective regions. However, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Mediterranean Dishes

  • Main Ingredients: Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil.
  • Fats: Olive oil (primary), used for cooking and dressing.
  • Proteins: Seafood, poultry, lean meats, cheese, yogurt.
  • Dairy: Cheese and yogurt.
  • Flavoring: Herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme), garlic, saffron.
  • Health Focus: Promotes heart health and is known for its balanced diet.
  • Culinary Approach: Simple cooking methods to highlight the freshness of ingredients.
  • Regional Variation: Less pronounced, with a consistent emphasis on the Mediterranean diet principles.
  • Spiciness: Generally mild, with a focus on fresh and aromatic flavors.

Indian Dishes

  • Main Ingredients: Spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala), legumes, rice, bread, dairy products.
  • Fats: Ghee (clarified butter), mustard oil, coconut oil.
  • Proteins: A wide range, including lentils, chickpeas, paneer, meat, and seafood.
  • Dairy: Milk, paneer, yogurt.
  • Flavoring: Extensive use of spices and herbs for vibrant flavors.
  • Health Focus: Varied; can be very healthy with vegetarian options, though some dishes are rich and heavy.
  • Culinary Approach: Complex spice blends and preparation methods for rich, layered flavors.
  • Regional Variation: Highly pronounced, with significant differences in ingredients and dishes across regions.
  • Spiciness: Ranges from mild to very spicy, depending on the dish and regional preference.

Mediterranean dishes focus on fresh produce, olive oil, and lean proteins for a healthy diet, while wholesome delicacies from India are known for its complex spices and a wide variety of vegetarian and meat dishes, offering diverse flavors and textures.

Up next, let’s discover the harmony between the dish and the drink in this cuisine.

Which Beverages to Pair with Mediterranean Dishes?

Here’s how beverages complement Mediterranean dishes to enhance the overall dining experience:

  • Red Wine: Complemented by the robust flavors of grilled meats, rich stews, and hearty pastas found in Mediterranean cuisine. The tannins in red wine, such as a Chianti or a Tempranillo, balance the fat in these dishes.
  • White Wine: Usually paired with seafood, poultry, and vegetable-based dishes common in Mediterranean cooking. A crisp, acidic white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a light Pinot Grigio can cut through the richness of olive oil-based sauces and dressings.
  • Rosé Wine: Bridges the gap between red and white wines, making it versatile for pairing with Mediterranean foods. Its light, fruity profile complements everything from Mediterranean salads (like Greek salad) to grilled fish and shellfish, as well as lighter pasta dishes.
  • Sparkling Wine: Ideal for starting a Mediterranean meal or pairing with lighter dishes, such as seafood appetizers, salads, or even a tapas selection. The effervescence and acidity of a Prosecco or Cava can cleanse the palate, preparing it for the next flavorful bite.
  • Beer: Craft beers, especially those with a citrus or herb note, complement Mediterranean dishes by offering a refreshing counterpoint to the bold flavors of spices and herbs. A light lager or a wheat beer pairs well with grilled vegetables and meats, while a pale ale can stand up to spicier dishes.
  • Non-Alcoholic Options: Herbal teas, such as mint or chamomile, and fresh fruit juices, including lemonade and orange juice, are commonly enjoyed with Mediterranean meals.

This selection of drinks from Mediterranean enhance the flavors of Mediterranean dishes, paving the way to explore the rich history and popularity of this diet.

When Did the Mediterranean Diet Become Popular?

The Mediterranean diet, inspired by the traditional food habits of southern Spain, southern Italy, and Crete in the early 1960s, gained widespread recognition in the 1990s.

This diet emphasizes a plant-based approach, focusing on unprocessed cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, with moderate consumption of fish, dairy products (mainly cheese and yogurt), and a low amount of red meat.

Olive oil is a key component, associated with health benefits like reducing mortality risk and chronic disease.

The diet’s popularity in the United States was bolstered by its inclusion in the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, alongside the DASH diet and vegetarian diet, due to its potential for reducing all-cause mortality and the risk of heart disease, obesity, and other health benefits.

The concept was first publicized in 1975 by American biologist Ancel Keys and chemist Margaret Keys but did not gain significant attention until the 1990s, following objective data from epidemiological studies in Calabria, Naples, and Madrid, and further confirmed by the Seven Countries Study.

In summary, the Mediterranean diet became popular in the 1990s, following decades of research and publication that highlighted its health benefits. It’s also important to understand its dietary guidelines to fully appreciate its benefits.

What Foods Can and Cannot Eat on The Mediterranean Diet?

Here’s a breakdown of what you can and cannot eat on the Mediterranean diet based on information from Mediterranean Living and Mayo Clinic:

Let’s try these Mediterranean dishes, share your culinary adventures, and engage with our community by liking, sharing, and commenting on this article. Your feedback fuels our passion for bringing more delicious recipes and culinary insights directly to you.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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