Expert Q&A

Mediterranean recipes: Do they require hard-to-find ingredients?

Do Mediterranean recipes require a lot of unusual ingredients? -Lauren from Colorado

For the most part, Mediterranean recipes call for ingredients that are easy to find in most grocery stores in the United States. Lamb is sometimes hard to find, but beef can be substituted. Yogurt in the U.S. is usually made with cow’s milk, so it will taste different from the sheep’s milk yogurts common in the Mediterranean. When you use such substitutions, the flavors won’t be exactly the same, but the overall nutritional value and quality will be.

More than individual ingredients, the combinations in recipes produce different tastes. For example, a casserole that includes meat, eggplant and tomato might be seasoned with spices like cinnamon or allspice rather than basil and thyme. Use of olive oil for cooking, rather than butter or margarine, also results in new tastes. Baklava—the traditional dessert made with walnuts, honey and phyllo dough brushed with olive oil—tastes quite different from baklava made with butter or margarine.

So, no, following a Mediterranean diet doesn’t involve finding a lot of unusual ingredients. Everything you need can be found in major grocery stores.

For further information on mediterranean eating see the following article from TheDietChannel: Get Healthy with a Mediterranean-Style Diet.

Donna Feldman, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

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