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The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
(Bantam) ISBN 978-0553385090 0553385097

This 496-page cookbook is about healthy cuisine. In The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, you will find more than 250 delicious recipes from Lebanon, Cyprus, North Africa, Greece, Italy, France and Spain, and learn how they contribute to your health.

Mediterranean foods

The cookbook is an informative study of the foods and ingredients found in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Readers learn about grains (e.g., bulgur, made from steamed whole wheat berries that are dried and cracked), dairy products (e.g., manouri or manourgi, soft Greek cheese made from whey with a little cream or milk added), cured meats (e.g., pancetta, unsmoked salt-cured bacon) and herbs (e.g., the subtle flavor of Turkish bay leaves or laurel is better than the stronger, medicinal-tasting bay leaves from California).

Meze, antipasti and tapas appetizers

Each chapter begins with an introduction, which describes the Mediterranean lifestyle and gastronomic origins of dishes. For example, The Small Dishes of the Mediterranean chapter describes the origins of meze, or mezedakia, in the Greek village of Bellapais on Cyprus. Meze include hummus, baba ghanouj, olives, salted anchovies, fried fish, octopus, lamb sausages and many other dishes served on small plates, some with dipping sauces. Appetizers, also known as antipasti and tapas, are found around the Mediterranean as street food, bar snacks and informal light meals.

Each recipe includes introductions, variations and sidebars. For example, in the marinated olives recipe, Nancy Jenkins describes how to cure olives. A sidebar explains how to prepare fresh green olives.

There are no photographs. A black and white diagram illustrates the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet pyramid.

Health benefits of olive oil

A sidebar explains the differences between extra-virgin olive oil and olive oil and the meanings of first cold pressing, hot pressing and chemical extraction. The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook includes information on the differences between saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat and trans fats, and the ideal balance of omega-6s to omega-3s (1:1 to 4:1). It explains the importance of olive oil as a monounsaturated fat, its vitamin content, antioxidant properties and benefits to heart health.

The Mediterranean Methods, Materials and Ingredients chapter emphasizes that flavor comes from ingredients and that dishes will be successful even if cooking techniques are not perfect. Nancy Harmon Jenkins describes Mediterranean cooking methods, such as battuto or soffritto (sautéing a mixture of finely chopped vegetables in olive oil), soaking beans, how to peel and seed tomatoes, how to roast peppers and how to trim artichokes.

She also provides olive oil buying tips like checking for the bottling date (two-year-old expensive oil is not worth the price), where it is displayed (exposure to sunlight on a store shelf degrades the oil) and the DOP (Protected Denomination of Origin) marking that ensures production and bottling standards in the European Union.

Holiday cooking

The Mediterranean cookbook includes recipes for Christian, Jewish and Islamic holidays, e.g., zaleti (Venetian cornmeal cookies for pre-Lenten Carnival) and crescia (Italian cheese and pancetta Easter bread).

A metric conversion chart helps cooks convert gas mark oven temperatures to Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees, and U.S. measurements in ounces and pounds to grams and kilograms. A chart translates U.S. and British cooking terms. For example, arugula in North America is called rocket in the U.K. and romaine in North America is called Cos lettuce in Britain.

Sample recipes

Antipasta - marinated olives, tapenade, mhammara, tzatziki, mechouia, tabbouleh and escalivada. Salads - chakchouka, panzanella, fattoush and Greek salad. Soups - chicken and fish stock, Mediterranean fish soup, Tuscan onion soup, Andalucian gazpacho, fassolada and North African pumpkin or squash soup. Breads - fennel and sesame from Cyprus, Moroccan semolina and pizza Napoletana. Pasta - pasta alla checca and mushroom lasagna. Grains - North African fish couscous and bulgur pilaf. Beans - Egyptian beans with olive oil and lemon, Tunisian chickpeas with spicy vegetables and cumin scented lentils and rice. Sauces - Greek domata saltsa, coulis de tomates, salsa verde, labneh and harissa. Vegetables - artichoke Parmigiana, beets with yogurt and tahini, chard with onions and black olives, and Sephardic spinach with chickpeas from Greece. Fish - Lebanese samki harra and skewered shrimp with garlic, lemon and olive oil. Poultry - baked chicken breasts with a pomegranate glaze and braised duck with wild fennel. Meats - Stifado of lamb, souvlakia or kebab and afelia.

The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook


  • Foreword by Marion Nestle
  • Introduction
  • Making the Change
  • Mediterranean Methods, Materials and Ingredients
    • The small dishes of the Mediterranean
    • Soups
    • Breads, pizzas, flatbreads and savory pies
    • Pasta, rice, beans and other grains and legumes
    • Vegetable dishes
    • Fish and seafood
    • Poultry and meat
    • A few sweets
  • Resources: Where to find it
  • Appendix I: The Mediterranean diet and health
  • Appendix II: Pyramid schemes
  • Index
  • Metric Conversion Chart
  • Ingredients and Cooking Times


Nancy Harmon Jenkins is the author of six other cookbooks.

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