In winter, we tend to gravitate towards stick-to-your-ribs food or stews with bold, hearty flavors. But sometimes, especially if you’re not a fan of the cold, it’s nice to take a break from all that and make yourself something light and (dare we say it?) summery. Why not Mediterranean? Mediterranean cuisine is full of healthy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. There are some classic dishes that are not vegan, but we can easily veganize those, too. This Moussaka With Cashew Cream is just as good as the original, only dairy is replaced by tofu and cashews. This Tempeh Gyro With Tofu Tzatziki uses tempeh instead of meat and a creamy tofu-based sauce instead of yogurt.
If you’ve ever thought that Mediterranean cuisine has a lot in common with Middle Eastern and North African cuisines, you would be right! Walk into any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant and you’re guaranteed to find staple foods like hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, and more. Both regions are located very close to each other, so the crossover was natural — it’s similar to how Tex-Mex food came to be, only over a period of several centuries.
Need recipes? We have plenty. These 15 Mediterranean dishes will make you feel like you’re living by the sea.
1. Tofu Halloumi With Black Sesame Soba
Traditional halloumi is a Cypriot cheese with a high melting point that makes grilling and frying easy. In this recipe for Tofu Halloumi With Black Sesame Soba, tofu is marinated to give it the flavor of halloumi and grilled in a waffle iron or grill pan. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor with a crisp and golden outside. Served with black sesame soba and a refreshing salad on the side, this dish is filling, flavorful, and unique.
2. Lahmajun: Armenian/Turkish Pizza
Lahmajun is a Turkish-style pizza that is traditionally made with ground lamb or beef and served with lemon wedges on flatbread. If you have not had Lahmajun before, you should give this meat-free version a try. Richly spiced soy crumbles are cooked with bell peppers and tomato sauce with Mediterranean spices. The crust gets thin and crispy while baking and you can make it whatever size you want — personal, party-style … any size!
3. Grilled Vegetable, Olive Flatbread, and Hummus Plate
You can’t go wrong with a classic mezze dish! This Grilled Vegetable, Olive Flatbread, and Hummus Plate is the perfect meal for chasing away the cold weather. The flavors of the grilled spelt flatbread flavored with olives and herbs, quick and easy hummus, and grilled hummus and zucchini all work in harmony together. Marinated lives and juicy cherry tomatoes on the side add more color and flavor to the plate. Serve with a big, green salad on the side with plates, because this dish was made to be shared.
4. Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous in Red Pepper Sauce
This beautiful Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous in Red Pepper Sauce is packed with savory flavor, covered with a sweet and creamy red pepper sauce, and topped with veggie pasta. This is (almost) too pretty to eat!
5. Quinoa Asparagus Tabbouleh
This Quinoa Asparagus Tabbouleh is the perfect side for your Mediterranean-inspired meal. Fresh asparagus, parsley, and mint add the taste of fresh greens while tomatoes add a light, savory flavor. Savor this fresh and crunchy tabbouleh as a first course or a side dish, or as a wrap for a light, but filling lunch.
6. Beet and Chickpea Falafel
What makes a falafel truly amazing is freshness. These vibrant Beet and Chickpea Falafel certainly aren’t lacking in that! Serve these over a bed of salad with a coconut yogurt tahini sauce, or wrap them in a pita with plenty of greens.
7. Lemon and Thyme Baba Ghanoush
Baba ghanoush (or mutabel, depending on where you’re eating it) has to be one of the most delicious, moreish items to ever grace a mezze spread. But it’s also one of those dishes you order at a restaurant, thinking you’d never be able to recreate as tastily at home. With this Lemon and Thyme Baba Ghanoush, you can unlock the secret. It’s creamy and savory with just the right amount of bright, citrus flavors.
8. Arakas Kokinistos: Greek Peas Soup
Plump, sweet little green peas swimming around in a sauce of tomatoey, dilly goodness – how amazing does that sound? Add a piece of crusty or grilled bread to help sop up all the crazy yummy soupy extra and you’ve got yourself one of the tastiest and simplest meals in Greek cooking. Arakas Kokinistos is phenomenal. It is perfection right off the stove and even a bit better than that a day or two later! This dish is infinitely scalable and very easy to reheat. In Greece, a big bowl of arakas kokinistos is often enjoyed as a meal on its own but they are also the perfect side dish to just about anything you can think of!
9. Turkish Tofu and Spinach Börek
This Tofu and Spinach Börek makes for a Turkish feast from flavor paradise. Typically made with cheese and spinach between layers of buttery filo pastry, börek is surprisingly easy to veganize. Since ready-made filo pastry is often vegan already (check the packet first) it makes life much easier on all fronts and can be coated with vegan butter so you don’t lose out on the buttery, golden kind of filo this börek demands. In place of cheese, crumbled tofu, with a dose of nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy hint, does a very fine job for the filling.
10. Portobello Gyros With Hemp Tzatziki
These Portobello Gyros With Hemp Tzatziki allow you to enjoy the delicious flavors of Greek cuisine, no meat or dairy required. Meaty Portobello mushrooms are tossed in Worcestershire sauce, rolled in a warm pita, and then topped with a creamy tzatziki made from hemp! Talk about a savory, umami explosion.
11. Chickpea and Eggplant Moussaka
Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that is either eggplant or potato based. It is always multilayered, often with meat and cheese. In this Chickpea and Eggplant Moussaka, it all begins with an eggplant base, is drenched in tomatoey flavor, and is well seasoned, especially after baking in the oven. Incorporating chickpeas and featuring a yummy variety of vegetables, this moussaka will hit the spot in both nutrition and taste.
12. Chermoula-Spiced Karantita and Pomegranate Salad
Are you in the mood to try something a little different for a weekend breakfast that’s big on flavor and minimal on effort? If so, this Chermoula-Spiced Karantita is just the ticket. And what could be better to accompany the spices of North Africa than a bright and zesty pomegranate salad? This is a dish of late-morning Mediterranean sunshine and sea — full of enticing, warm, and satisfying flavors.
13. Loubia B’Zeit: Mediterranean Green Beans With Tomatoes
Loubia B’Zeit, green beans and tomatoes in oil, is a popular side dish in Mediterranean countries where the world’s best olive oil comes from. In this dish, fresh tomatoes and green beans are braised in olive oil and tomatoes sauce until tender. Although it’s best served at room temperature as a side to a larger meal, it’s just as enjoyable while still warm.
14. Mezze Layer Cake
Need a show-stopping entrée for a party that’s sure to knock everyone’s socks off? You can go for a mezze spread or you can put it all together into one awesome centerpiece. This Mezze Layer Cake starts with a pita crust, followed by roasted zucchini, tapenade, a layer of bulgur, baba ganoush, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and other savory Mediterranean ingredients, and a layer of falafel batter … you get it, it’s loaded with all the good stuff. Finally, it’s baked until warm. Doesn’t get any better than this!
15. Macadamia and Sun-Dried Tomato Collard Dolmades
In this recipe for Macadamia and Sun-Dried Tomato Collard Dolmades, crumbly macadamia nuts, crisp red bell pepper, and savory sun-dried tomatoes are rolled up into a tasty appetizer that’ll delight your guests. Traditional dolmades use grape leaves as the wrap, but in this recipe, more readily available collard leaves are used. These are perfect for practically any party when served with a creamy sauce for dipping.
Love Mediterranean food? Want more? Find these recipes and more in our vegan Mediterranean recipes!
Lead image source: Mezze Layer Cake