If you've ever visited the Mediterranean, or you dream of traveling there one day, you may have a strong love of Mediterranean food. You're not alone; the cuisine from this region is full of flavor, uses beautiful fresh produce, and is healthy and nutritious. If you'd like to cook up a flavorsome Mediterranean meal at home, then having the right staple ingredients is vital. Here are three key elements used in Mediterranean-style cooking that no good larder should be without.
1. Zaatar spice mix
Zaatar spice mix is a mainstay right across the Mediterranean. It also serves as a core component of both Turkish and many Middle Eastern cuisines. There is no single mix of spices that could be called the 'right' Zaatar with the combination varying from country to country and even from town to town. You can find it from companies like Zatar Haddad.
Zaatar is a vital pantry inclusion because it's such an incredibly versatile spice mix. You can use it to season all meat varieties and it also works beautifully with seafood and vegetables. In many Mediterranean countries, it's used simply as a topping or dip for warm flatbreads smothered in olive oil. Which brings you to the next pantry staple...
2. Top quality olive oil
The temperate climate of the Mediterranean is perfect for growing olives. Olive groves across the entire region produce olives of every size and variety that you can think of. Many of these varieties are then pressed to produce olive oil, which is like liquid gold if you're attempting to cook authentic Mediterranean food.
All olive oils are not created equal and there is a huge difference between cheap grocery store versions and the hearty and rich oils that you'll be served in the Mediterranean. Buy the best quality oil that you can afford. Although it will cost you more per liquid ounce, it will repay you many times over with the flavors and aromas that it adds to your meals.
3. Canned or dried legumes
No self-respecting Mediterranean pantry would be complete without a good selection of legumes. Legumes can be used as a nutritious way to bulk out meat dishes but function equally well as stand-alone core ingredients for soups, casseroles, and salads. They're also essential for creating many quintessential Mediterranean dips such as Hummus.
To be truly authentic, dried legumes soaked overnight are the ideal choice. However, time is often of the essence so having a good stock of the ready-to-eat canned variety is perfect for quick mid-week meals in a hurry.
Mediterranean food is undeniably delicious and it's also deceptively simple. Having these three core ingredients in your larder will let you create a mouth-watering meal out of the simplest fresh produce.