Mediterranean Diet For Dummies
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Folks in the Mediterranean often serve cheese simply with crackers and bread, but you can also find it with more-detailed appetizer recipes. The United States and Canada don’t use as wide a variety of cheeses as people in the Mediterranean do. Although you may be used to aged cheeses like cheddar or American, you find more soft and semi-soft cheeses in Mediterranean cooking, especially with appetizers.

If you haven’t ventured very far in your cheese choices, now is the time to explore!

Mini Spanakopita

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24 servings

Three 10-ounce packages fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

6 ounces (about 1 cup) feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter, melted

8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. To prepare the filling, microwave the spinach in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated.

    Using a colander, strain and wring out the spinach until it’s barely moist; transfer to a large bowl and mix with the feta cheese.

  3. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sauté the chopped onion for 3 minutes.

    Add the onion, dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and eggs to the spinach mixture and stir well.

  4. Combine the remaining olive oil and melted butter in a small bowl.

    Lightly brush the phyllo sheet with the olive oil and butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs. Cut 1 phyllo sheet at a time lengthwise into three 4-inch strips.

  5. Spoon about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture onto one end of each strip; fold as shown.

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  6. Place the triangles, seam sides down, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Using tongs, gently place the spanakopitas onto a serving plate. Serve warm.

Per serving: Calories 78 (From Fat 39); Fat 4g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 190mg; Carbohydrate 7g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 3g.

Goat Cheese with Honey and Fruit

Prep time: 12 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

32 whole-grain crackers

8 ounces goat cheese

8 dried apricots

8 dried figs

1 pear, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons honey

  1. Arrange the crackers on a serving dish. Spread each cracker with 1 tablespoon of goat cheese and top with an apricot, a fig, or a pear slice.

  2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the honey for 30 seconds; drizzle the honey over the fruit and crackers and serve.

Per serving: Calories 249 (From Fat 99); Fat11g (Saturated 6g); Cholesterol 22mg; Carbohydrate 31g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 9g.

Tomato and Mozzarella Bites

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Yield: 16 servings

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Sea salt to taste

16 fresh basil leaves

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch-thick

1/4 cup olive oil

  1. In a small saucepan, cook the vinegar and pomegranate juice over medium heat until it reduces by half, approximately 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, layer the sliced tomatoes on a serving platter and sprinkle each with sea salt.

    Layer a basil leaf over each tomato and top with a mozzarella slice. Drizzle the olive oil and the balsamic pomegranate reduction over the tomato and mozzarella bites.

  3. Pierce each mozzarella bite with a toothpick and serve.

Per serving: Calories133 (From Fat 88); Fat 10g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 22mg; Sodium 182mg; Carbohydrate 4g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 7g.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Rachel Berman, RD, a nationally recognized nutrition expert, has helped thousands of clients lose weight and improve their health. As a contributor to numerous publications, and through appearances on various local and national radio and television health segments, she regularly shares her core philosophy of balance and moderation and her passion about helping others develop a healthier relationship with food.

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