Mouthwatering Mediterranean meals

A delicious diet rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish can help you live longer and protect you from a range of diseases, so says a recent study published in the British Medical Journal. The famed Mediterranean diet has long been known to be heart healthy, but new research suggests that it can also reduce your risk of getting cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Wondering how you can incorporate more Mediterranean meals into your diet? Start with the following recipes – then create some of your own.

Eggplant Dip

Mediterranean recipes

Eggplant and Roasted Pepper Dip

Makes about 3 cups

1 small eggplant, ends trimmed, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of a lemon
1 cup roasted red peppers (from a jar, drained)
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss eggplant with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread eggplant on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes, turning every five minutes. Eggplant is done when it is tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

2. Transfer eggplant to a food processor and add remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon juice, red peppers and garlic. Pulse mixture until ingredients are well-combined. You may also puree, if desired. Transfer dip to a serving bowl and stir in basil. Serve with baked pita chips, spread on whole grain bread or use as a dip for cut veggies.

Mediterranean Grain Salad

Serves 6

3 cups cooked bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 cup finely diced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 cup cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinse before using)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkling of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups mixed salad greens

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Arrange salad greens on six plates and mound salad on top of greens. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of vinegar.

Artichoke and Green Olive Halibut

Serves 4

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup finely chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup finely chopped green olives
Juice and zest of a small lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (5-ounce each) halibut fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
Green olives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine parsley, artichoke hearts, green olives, lemon juice and zest. Rub halibut with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily when pressed with the back of a fork. Transfer fish to four serving plates and top each with artichoke olive mixture. Garnish with extra olives.

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