Mediterranean food is lusty, full-bodied and straight from the heart; perhaps a touch like the inhabitants themselves of this sun-drenched corner of the world.
It almost seems a bit trite to try and define what the food, and indeed the people, of the Mediterranean are actually made up of. This deep blue abyss skirts the shores of Morocco, Turkey and Egypt as well as the more commonly associated lower regions of Italy and France, and in a way sort of defies conventional labelling. Mediterranean food is grilled fish with harissa and black olives from Tunisia; it’s a lush bowl of Spanish squid ink paella; it’s Syria’s muhammara, a capsicum and walnut dip laced with piquant pomegranate molasses.
The key qualities that weave their magic have less to do with country borders and more to do with long, hot summers, mild winters and an abundance of superb produce. Spanking fresh seafood, fragrant lemons and blood oranges, vine-ripened tomatoes, gorgeous avocados, purple garlic, glossy chillies and first pressed extra virgin olive oils all are typical ingredients to be slung into your basket on market day.
The essence of life doesn’t seem to change too much, despite the very different cultures of the countries that hem this binding expanse of water. You sip your coffee in the sunny square, you have a chat, a bit of a gossip. Life around the big, blue Mediterranean; it can’t be beat. Try a little of it in your corner of the world.
Brought to you by Fresh Finesse Fresh Food Promotions – www.freshf.com.au
Roast Mediterranean vegetables
- 150 g button mushrooms trimmed
- ½ red capsicum chopped
- ½ yellow capsicum chopped
- ½ eggplant cut into 2cm pieces
- 200 g butternut pumpkin cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- 60 g Persian marinated feta drained, crumbled
- Preheat oven 250ºC. Position shelf toward top of the oven.
- Combine all the vegetables and garlic in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast, turning the vegetables every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with parsley and feta, toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature with barbecue lamb, chicken or chops.
Lamb and mushroom kofta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300 gram cup mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 400 gram lamb mince
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Warm pita bread, yoghurt and tabouli, to serve
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat until hot. Add oil and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for five minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain excess liquid.
- Combine parsley, onion, garlic and spices in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add the mushrooms and mince, use the pulse button to process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Use wet hands to mould heaped tablespoons of mixture around eight metal skewers, squeezing the mixture tightly. Place on a tray. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes if time permits.
- Preheat barbecue plate on medium-high. Spray the skewers with oil, turning to coat all sides.
- Barbecue for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Serve with warm pita bread, yoghurt and tabouli.
What’s fresh in fruit and vegetables for November
Blueberries: Luscious local blueberries are plentiful in the stores at present. Blueberries are beautiful when served as part of a cheese platter or as a dessert with fresh cream or ice cream. Select plump fruit with good colour and a blue-grey, waxy bloom. Incorporate in pancakes, muffins, pies and puddings or as a topping for bought desserts or cakes.
Midknight Valencia oranges: A great way to give your day a glowing start is with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. All citrus fruits give a more generous yield of juice if they are at room temperature when squeezed – rolling them firmly with the palm of your hand also helps. Valencia oranges are ideal if you like your juice chilled, as the juice keeps well in the fridge, ready for that morning burst of energy and Vitamin C.
Hass avocados: A bountiful crop is predicted for local Hass avocados this year, with people Australia-wide being able to purchase these high-quality WA grown fruits. Use finely diced avocado to create a base for a rustic, fuss-free salsa; be inspired by Latin flavours and add chilli, lime and coriander, or hit the Mediterranean and go with tomato, fresh oregano and sea salt. Both pair marvellously with a range of grilled meats and seafood. Avocado is also an immensely nutritious first food for babies and easy to spoon straight out of the skin: no preparation necessary.
Sweet corn: The corn arriving now from the Northwest is of excellent quality and best cooked and eaten as soon as you can after buying, as fresh corn is most definitely the juiciest. If keeping for more than a day, parboil the corn for a minute (this will help slow down the conversion of sugars) before refrigerating or freezing. Nutrients in vegetables are frequently best in their raw state; in this case, cooked sweet corn has significant antioxidant activity, which can substantially reduce the chance of heart disease and cancer.
Cauliflower: Beautiful and well-priced cauliflowers from the Southwest have tight snowy white heads that are an excellent source of vitamin C, particularly when served raw. Try them broken into tiny florets as a substitute for cabbage in your favourite coleslaw recipe, or steam or grill and dress with a mixture of good extra virgin olive oil, mustard and fresh herbs. Roast with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin for a nutty roasted treat.
Button mushrooms: Creamy little white button mushrooms are perfect morsels to add to any salad as the days and evenings warm. Marinate in a little herby lemon oil for a delicious addition to a grazing or nibbles board.