Ready to try the Mediterranean diet? Head to the grocery store and stock up.
Here are seven essentials, according to Julia Collin Davison, executive editor of books at America’s Test Kitchen, which recently published “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook.”
Use it for “cooking everything from your fried egg in the morning to starting a super stew [in the evening],” Davison says. It’s also a great base for non-dairy sauces, like fresh vinaigrettes and herb-packed pestos. And you don’t need to buy the most expensive imported oils: California Olive Ranch ($10.79 at FreshDirect.com) was the winner of a recent Test Kitchen taste test, defeating brands that cost twice as much.
“Legumes are a huge part of the Mediterranean,” says Davison. While gourmets often espouse dried beans, she says that the Test Kitchen actually found that canned beans, in addition to being more convenient, actually tended to taste better, cook more evenly and were most consistently fresh compared to their dried counterparts, which can sit on store shelves for years. Her favorite is cannellini beans because of their versatility: Use them “in a soup, a dip [or] a salad.”
In recent years, the concept of the Mediterranean diet has expanded beyond Greece and Italy to include the vibrant cooking of Middle Eastern countries bordering the “Great Sea.” “There are some killer spices that gussy up the dullest of ingredients,” says Davison. Her favorites include “tangy, floral” sumac, the earthy spicy blend ras el hanout and Aleppo pepper flakes, which pack a “subtle, fruity heat.”