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  • Carlos Sarmiento

Mediterranean feast. Overarching flavors to conquest your palate.


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A good friend of mine recently asked me if I’ve ever created dishes for someone who avoids high glycemic foods. The question soon became a challenge and I was determined to come up with a dish or two that would satisfy that criteria.


Upon doing research, I quickly learned that the world famous Mediterranean diet was the way to go. To my surprise, I discovered that this diet is beyond fantastic, healthy and delicious. It is a lifestyle. Inspiration came and a three course menu was born.


(Photo: LoboStudio Hamburg)


Per Wikipedia: “The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the eating habits of Italy and Greece in the 1960s. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of oilve oil, legumes, unrifined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of non-fish meat products. Olive oil has been studied as a potential health factor for reducing all-cause mortality and the risk of chronic diseases.”


(Photo: Nazar Habovyi)


In Old World Europe, spices where the catalyst of forming immense wealth for those who controlled them, ultimately crafting Empires. The Spice Routes (also known as the Maritime Silk Roads) were a network of sea routes linking two worlds...the East to the West, beginning from the west coast of Japan, through the many islands of Indonesia, around India to the Middle East, across the Mediterranean, finally reaching Europe.


(Photo: Merve Sehirili Nasir)


In one of my previous postings, I mentioned how herbs were the stars of the spotlight dish, for these dishes, spices will be featured in the leading roles and herbs in the supporting category.


Menu:

Starter course

Mediterranean salad - cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes & feta with oregano/lemon vinaigrette

Main course

Tumeric seared chicken with roasted rosemary sweet potatoes & chick peas in parsley vinaigrette.


Dessert

Baked cardamom peaches with strawberry-mint topping.


Wine: Sauvignon Blanc


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


This three course menu serves 4.

Ready for your Mediterranean journey?

Let’s get cooking!

*Note 1: this menu is designed for those that want to avoid high glycemic foods.


**Note 2: ”Optional” notations below are alternative suggestions but will not reflect a low glycemic menu.


Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut in small cubes

  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and cut in chunks

  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced in julienned strips

  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese, cut in small cubes


Salad dressing:

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • Sea salt

  • 1/2 lemon (seeded), finely chopped (with peel)

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • fresh lemon juice (of 1/2 lemon)


Chicken:

  • 4 medium sized fresh chicken breasts

  • Sea salt & Pepper

  • Ground Tumeric

  • fresh lemon juice (4 wedges, one per chicken)

  • 3 tablespoons of extra Virgin olive oil


Sweet potatoes:

  • 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 3/4 to 1-inch pieces

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 4 pieces of rosemary sprigs (for garnish)

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Chick peas:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


Peaches:

  • 4 ripe peaches (quartered and pitted)

  • ground cardamom

  • 4 teaspoons raw sugar (optional)

  • 1/2 pack of fresh strawberries (optional: strawberries can be mixed with 1 teaspoon of sugar)

  • 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (save a few small leaves for garnishing)


Directions

Salad & Salad Dressing:

In a large mixing bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber and onions and set aside.


In blender or food processor, chop garlic, crushed red pepper flakes with a pinch of sea salt. Add chopped lemon peel and all of the fresh oregano leaves; pulse/blend until coarse.


Add extra-virgin olive oil slowly, blend until a smooth consistency forms. Season with another pinch of salt and fresh lemon juice (to taste).


Pour the dressing on the salad mixing bowl and gently toss. Add feta cheese and gently toss again. Serving instructions to follow.


Note: Dressing can be made 2 days ahead (stored covered and chill).


Chicken:

Preheat oven time 400 degrees F.


Season each chicken breast (on both sides) with salt and pepper. Lightly dust each breast (both sides) with ground turmeric.


On a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil (medium high). Once it is hot, carefully place all chicken breasts in and sear (brown) for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer cast iron skillet to oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Thinner breasts will cool for 15 minutes, while thicker ones will cook for 20 minutes.


Note: If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can sear the chicken in a regular pan and transfer the chicken to an oven-proof deep dish. Cook as mentioned above.


Once chicken is cooked, remove from oven, sprinkle fresh lemon juice (1 wedge per breast) on top and let rest for 5 minutes.

Sweet potatoes:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.


Place cut sweet potatoes in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil. Add rosemary, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir until combined and sweet potatoes are coated evenly.


Spread evenly in a single layer on lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until tender.

Chick peas:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil.


Toss chick peas in bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Transfer chick peas to foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes (until golden brown).


While chick peas are roasting, mix oil, garlic, parsley and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk well until blended. This dressing will be topped on top of chick peas and chicken.


Peaches:

Placed quartered peaches on a oven-proof baking dish or non-stick baking pan. Sprinkle with raw sugar (optional) and very lightly dust with ground cardamom.


Bake in oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Let peaches cool for 5 minutes. Strawberries and mint will be used as topping/garnish.


Serve it up!

Starter course:

Transfer salad in four equal parts into smaller bowls. Serve.


Main course:

On a dinner size plate, arrange sweet potatoes in the center, creating a small heap.

Place the chicken in a leaning position halfway between the heap of sweet potatoes and the plate.


Spinkle plenty of chick peas on top of the chicken and drizzle with chick pea dressing.


Garnish with rosemary sprig between the chicken and sweet potatoes (optional).


Repeat plating instructions fo the other three guests and serve.


Dessert:

Arrange each quartered peach on individual plates. Sprinkle a few chopped mint leaves around the peaches and add a few thinly sliced fresh strawberries, topping each plate with small mint leaves as garnish. Serve.


(Video: J.C. Martin)


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


Wine pairing

As you can see, I am pairing this Mediterranean feast with a personal favorite: a 2018 St. Supery Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, California

https://shop.stsupery.com/SHOP.AMS?LEVEL=BOT&PART=SB18SS7

(Available online and at fine grocery stores $18-25)


”This particular wine showcases nice, ripe frui and refreshing acidity. Flavors of passion fruit, lime and citrus tones create an opulent and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc of distinctive style.” St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery

For these types of dishes you can pair them with either a crisp, dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. If you prefer red wine, I would recommend either a Sangiovese, or a Syrah.


Bon appetit! Cheers!

Enjoy!


(Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel)

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