Mediterranean Diet For Dummies
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You may associate sauces with Italian cooking, but many other regions along the Mediterranean also have some classics of their own. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Greek meal without yogurt sauce nearby. Here are some quintessential Greek, Moroccan, and Spanish sauces.

Chickpea Sauce

Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

One 14.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1/2 cup basil leaves, torn

1 bay leaf

One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Blend the chickpeas in a food processor for 1 minute.

    Add the water and blend until smooth.

  2. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

    Add the red chili pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion, parsley, basil, and bay leaf and cook for 8 minutes.

  3. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the skillet and simmer for 20 minutes.

    Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, stir in about 1/4 cup hot water to thin it out. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Per serving: Calories 192 (From Fat 89); Fat 10g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 308mg; Carbohydrate 23g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 4g.

This rustic sauce is excellent over any pasta. Just dust the dish with manchego or any hard, white cheese.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

2 cups Greek yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup mint, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Place yogurt into a bowl.

  2. Grate the cucumber into the yogurt and stir.

  3. Season the yogurt mixture with the remaining ingredients.

  4. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Per serving: Calories 24 (From Fat 0); Fat 0g (Saturated 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 18mg; Carbohydrate 2g (Dietary Fiber 0g); Protein 4g.

If you can’t find Greek yogurt, place a container of regular yogurt upside down in a coffee-filter- or cheesecloth-lined strainer and over a bowl. Store the setup in the refrigerator overnight until the yogurt thickens.

Spanish Almond Sauce

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

1 red bell pepper, cut in half and seeded

1 cup almonds, dry-roasted

1/2 cup hazelnuts

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt to taste

  1. Preheat the broiler with the rack 5 inches from the heat.

    Place the bell pepper halves on a baking sheet, cut side down, and broil until the skin is bubbled and slightly blackened.

  2. Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag or cover with a towel for 5 minutes until they’re cool to touch and the skins are easy to remove.

  3. Blend the skinned peppers, almonds, hazelnuts, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a food processor for 1 minute.

  4. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar.

  5. Turn on the food processor and begin drizzling the vinegar mixture into the nut mixture.

    Continuing to blend, drizzle in the cream. Season with salt before serving.

Per serving: Calories 247 (From Fat 220); Fat 24g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 50mg; Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 4g.

This sauce is great as a dip for vegetables or grilled shrimp or as a sauce over pasta or fish.

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