During the past year, many people have missed the opportunity to travel and experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the world, but it’s easy to explore other cultures and cuisines by experimenting in the kitchen.
If you’re looking to transport your taste buds to the shores of Spain or the beaches of Greece, one of the best places to start is with the Mediterranean Diet. Renowned chef Geoffrey Zakarian recommends these tips to help home cooks elevate their dishes and easily incorporate the popular diet into everyday cooking.
Reach for Pantry Staples. There’s no single definition of the Mediterranean Diet, but it’s high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil and seafood. By keeping your pantry stocked with canned versions of ingredients like beans and fish you can easily add them to your favorite dishes. Yellowfin Tuna Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto and Dates, and Tuna Aioli Dip with Balsamic Drizzle are flavorful ways to bring Mediterranean flair to your dinner table.
Add Seafood. Eating more seafood is one of the leading principles of the Mediterranean Diet. Tuna salad is one tried-and-true dish that can help incorporate fish into your menu. To make it more nutritious, opt for tuna that’s packed in extra-virgin olive oil, so you don’t have to add much mayo to the base. For example, Genova Premium Tuna provides a tasteful addition to recipes and is high in protein, a great source of omega-3s and has a uniquely rich and savory flavor that offers a taste of the Mediterranean in every bite.
Visit GenovaSeafood.com for more recipe inspiration.
Tuna Aioli Dip with Balsamic Drizzle
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
- 6 ounces Genova Albacore Tuna in Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 anchovies
- 1/2 lemon, juice only (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- raw vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cucumber spears, endive leaves, sliced fennel and bell pepper strips, for dipping
Drain tuna, reserving 2 tablespoons oil.
In small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar, bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Bring to boil and reduce until syrupy, about 1 tablespoon. Let cool slightly; discard bay leaf and rosemary sprig.
In blender or food processor, process tuna and reserved oil, mayonnaise, capers, anchovies and lemon juice to make smooth dip. Transfer to flat serving bowl. Drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve with raw vegetables.
Yellowfin Tuna Pasta Salad with Arugula Pesto and Dates
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil, drained
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for garnish (optional)
- 2 lemons, zest only (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces whole-wheat orecchiette
- 1/2 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted and quartered
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup dill, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
On a sheet tray, toast pine nuts 8-12 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Prepare ice water bath by filling large bowl with cold water and ice. Stir arugula into boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 30 seconds. Drain arugula, immediately shock in ice water and set aside to fully drain; cover with towel.
In blender or food processor, add arugula; garlic; pine nuts; butter, if desired; Parmigiano-Reggiano; lemon zest, if desired; salt; and pepper. Puree on high, incorporating olive oil to desired thickness.
Place pesto in bowl and cover tightly to avoid discoloring.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil.
Add pasta and return to boil, stirring occasionally. Taste pasta for doneness 2 minutes earlier than package instructions. Once cooked, drain and transfer to large bowl. Do not rinse.
Add pesto gently until evenly distributed. Fold in tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, dates and olives.
Divide between shallow bowls and finish with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano, dill and parsley, if desired.