The Mediterranean diet is considered to be the best in the world. But it’s not only the abundance of fruit and vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish and more that makes it such a healthy way of life. It seems that HOW all this incredible food is enjoyed is good for us too. In the Mediterranean, people are more likely to make time for meals and to enjoy sharing them with friends and family. Making mealtimes a relaxed and social affair? That’s got to sound good, right?
Of course, sharing great food is an important part of the festive season too. Which makes it a brilliant opportunity to borrow some of that Mediterranean goodness and add it into our own occasions. So stock up on all kinds of olives, capers and other foods that will help you to create the perfect (festive) Mediterranean moment.
When it comes to sharing, our Mediterranean friends know how to do it in style. There’s Tapas in Spain. Charcuterie is France’s version, and Mezze platters, which originated in the Middle East, are now enjoyed all over the Med. So take inspiration from all over the region and create your own seasonal sharing platters.
Sharing platters are simply perfect for festive parties. (Take a look at the one created just for us this year.) They’re quick and easy to put together, yet look amazing on the table. You can fill them with all your favourite flavours, and it’s a breeze to make them vegetarian too. So what do you put on your platter? A choice of olives is an essential, so include filled olive options and seasoned olives too. You could even marinade your own! Hummus works really well too. Then think about a few other veggies, cured meats and a side of bread too. You don’t have to add loads of different items to create a real impact. A few flavours, that work beautifully together, are far more effective.
Giving your festive table a Mediterranean twist doesn’t mean you have to go all out for traditions of the region. But it’s always nice to know more about how others celebrate the festive season. In Italy, for example, Christmas Eve is usually a meat-free day. So for an Italian flavour, choose a fish dish, such as cod with lemon-seasoned olives, for a Christmas Eve meal. In Spain, December 28th is also Dia de los Santos Inocentes. It translates as ‘day of the holy innocents’, and is the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day. (Chocolate coated caper anyone?!)
Of course, festive traditions are as much about how you do things in your home. So why not add a Mediterranean twist to your family traditions? Perhaps make antipasti your starter. It’s the traditional way to begin a formal meal in Italy for good reason! Fill a platter with olives, piquillo peppers, deli meats and cherry tomatoes, and let everyone help themselves to their favourites. You could even give your roast a Mediterranean edge. Lamb works wonderfully with Mediterranean herbs and green olives. Even white meats, such as turkey, can take Mediterranean flavours. Try roasting olives and cherry tomatoes alongside it for the last 30 minutes or so.
Another way to deliver Mediterranean flavours to your main course is with the side dishes you serve. Pop your potatoes in the roasting pan with garlic, olives and herbs. Try sprouts with chestnuts and black olives for an intense flavour combination. And a tray of Mediterranean roasted vegetables is a great way to add colour, and a whole lot of flavour all in one pan!
Mediterranean ingredients are magnificent for adding flavour to your festive leftovers too. Stir seasoned olives and shredded turkey through pasta. Dine on boards with cheese, olives and crackers for evening meals. Add capers to stir-fried veg for an instant hit of flavour. Leftovers provide the perfect base for experimenting in the kitchen, and cupboard staples such as capers, olives and piquillo peppers give you simple ways to make any meal into a Mediterranean moment. So however you enjoy the festive season, Fragata can help keep your taste buds happy right through it.