Other healthy eating trends may come and go, but the Mediterranean diet is here to stay. Why? With a focus on colorful plants and healthy fats, many studies confirm it can reduce your risk for chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And putting together a Mediterranean-inspired meal is so fresh and easy, especially in summer. Take inspiration from heat-loving vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, along with fish, lemon, garlic, herbs, and enough extra-virgin olive oil to transform you into a Greek god or goddess. Plus, you can snack on a small handful of almonds, and even have a glass of vino. Mille grazie.
Here’s a week of sunny Mediterranean suppers, in five easy recipes. This plan covers Sunday through Thursday, and leaves the weekend open for leftovers. Each recipe makes 2 servings, but you can easily double up, if you’ve got more mouths to feed. There’s a shopping list for what to buy, with a few pantry staples at the bottom—check to make sure you have those on hand!
1 English cucumber
1 globe eggplant
1 bell pepper
2 red onions
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch kale
1 heart romaine lettuce
Greek yogurt, plain, low fat
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1¼ lb/750 g total)
2/3 lb (10½ oz/330 g) tuna or swordfish steak
Whole-wheat pita bread
1 can (15 oz/470 g) diced tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
Briny black olives, such as Kalamata
1 can (15 oz/470 g) chickpeas, no salt added
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Sunday: Chicken Kebabs with Couscous & Tzatziki
On Sunday, fire up the grill! In a bowl, whisk together ½ cup (4 oz/125 g) Greek yogurt, juice of ½ lemon, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cut the 2 chicken breasts into hunks and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Place the chicken in a zippered bag, pour the yogurt marinade over, and massage to coat. Seal the bag and refrigerate for a few hours. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread the chicken onto skewers. Grill until lightly marked and no longer pink at the center, turning a few times, about 12 minutes total. Serve half of the grilled chicken with whole-wheat couscous, sliced cucumber, and a dollop of tzatziki. (Save the remaining grilled chicken for salads later in the week. You can also get ahead by grilling the veggies you’ll need for Monday on Sunday.)
Monday: Grilled Veggie Plate with Hummus
Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Trim and cut the eggplant and zucchini into thick slices, and seed and quarter the bell pepper. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill until lightly marked and tender, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with dollops of hummus and tzatziki, and whole-wheat pita bread for dipping.
Tuesday: Braised Tuna with Tomatoes & Olives
This simple supper cooks in one pan, with meaty fish sinking into juicy tomatoes. Sprinkle the tuna steak with freshly ground pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear the tuna until golden but not cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Return the pan to the heat. Add 1 chopped red onion and sauté until tender, 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in 1 can diced tomatoes and ¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) olives and bring to a simmer. Return the tuna to the pan, adjust the heat, and simmer until the fish flakes easily, 10 minutes. Serve over whole-wheat couscous and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
Wednesday: Greek Kale Salad with Cucumber & Tomato
Use leftover grilled chicken in a legendary Greek salad, powered by kale. In a small bowl, add ¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) Greek yogurt, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoons olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Remove and discard the kale stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Place the kale leaves in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and massage for a few minutes, until the leaves start to soften. Thinly slice ½ cucumber and ½ red onion, and halve a handful of cherry tomatoes, and add to the bowl, along with 2 tablespoons olives. Drizzle with the yogurt dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons feta and top with the leftover grilled chicken.
Thursday: Baked Falafel Pita Sandwiches
Sink your teeth into a satisfying sandwich at the end of the week. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, ½ cup (2 oz/60 g) chopped red onion, 1 handful fresh parsley leaves, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse to form a rough puree. Shape into patties, place on the prepared baking sheet, and spray again with olive oil. Bake, flipping once, until the falafel are golden on the outside but still soft in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Finely chop some cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion, and combine in a small bowl. Thinly slice the lettuce. Fill whole-wheat pita breads with dollops of babaganoush or tzatziki, and the falafel, chopped veggies, and lettuce.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.