Appetizer and Dessert Recipes for a Mediterranean Diet
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
Tapas, meze, and antipasti are all terms for small dishes, similar to what you think of as appetizers, served in the Mediterranean. Dating back to Roman times, appetizers are traditionally used to whet your appetite or stimulate the gastric juices before a meal. In the Mediterranean, appetizers are seasonal depending on what types of foods are on hand.
For example, you see more dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) in the summer months while the grape vines are in bloom.
Depending on the exact region of the Mediterranean, small appetizers like Italian Bruschetta are used in different ways. In some areas, dinner isn’t served until 9 p.m. or later, leaving a good amount of time from the end of the work day; small appetizers are often served as a snack between work and dinnertime to compensate.
In other regions, people serve several appetizers at once as the dinner meal. However, most homes don’t serve this course regularly, and they reserve lavish appetizers for parties and special celebrations.
Serving up a variety of great desserts is common practice on the Mediterranean coast. So how do the people who live there stay heart healthy and manage their weights? Moderation is the secret.
For weekly dessert treats, Mediterranean residents often eat just plain fruit or a small cookie such as biscotti. You also see fruit desserts lightly sweetened with a little sugar or honey. Rice pudding is a relatively quick and simple dessert that can be made on a weeknight.
Getting in the habit of eating a little fruit when you have a sweet tooth is a great wellness strategy. Eating abundant amounts of fruit means consuming more healthy nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, which help you lower your risk of certain diseases.
People in the Mediterranean often eat just fruit for dessert, especially during the week. Add fruit to classics like Panna Cotta and Rice Pudding.