One of the best things about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s based on an established culinary tradition in the Middle East, Greece, Italy, and Spain—some of the best and oldest food cultures in the world. Yes, it is the most popular healthy-eating approach right now, shown to improve digestion, gut health, and heart health—and studies show it can even help you live longer. But the deep roots of Mediterranean cooking also make it a favorite of foodies who couldn’t care less about slow carbs or ketones.
Translation: When you want to feel like a kitchen goddess, creating beautiful plates of food and serving them up on your rustic Tuscan dining table (dare to dream, in a tiny New York City apartment), Mediterranean is the nutrient-dense way to go.
The deep roots of Mediterranean cooking also make it a favorite of foodies who couldn’t care less about slow carbs or ketones.
While the huge communal dining table may be all in your head, the chef-approved dishes are absolutely doable, thanks to the huge selection of Mediterranean cookbooks at pretty much any bookstore. Here’s a curated list of favorites, from chefs who will help you make everything from a weeknight meal to Sunday dinner with the family extra-special (and healthy!).
Two-time James Beard award-winning chef Alon Shaya made New Orleans foodies swoon for Israeli cooking when his namesake restaurant opened a few years ago, and in this cookbook-slash-memoir, he offers up something else to savor. It’s a great companion to help you appreciate the pleasure of eating, and get out of the “delicious food is bad for me” thought pattern—because it’s simply not true.
PBS’ queen of Italian cuisine is a shoo-in for this list, since she’s been repping for Mediterranean cooking since the Spice Girls were a thing (the first time). Here, she’s teaching the basics of Italian cooking, laying out the standard ingredients and how to buy, store, and cook them—so that you’ll have the chops to improv your own olive oil-infused masterpieces. (But if you get stuck: She’s got you covered, with 400 recipes.)
World-renowned London chef Yotam Ottolenghi is a UK sensation, but slightly less well-known on this side of the Atlantic. If you’re not already fully conversant with the Jerusalem-born restaurateur’s work—he’s known for inventive, incredibly flavorful approaches to everything from veggies to desserts—this is an excellent entry point to see why he’s so popular with Brits. And if he leaves you hungry for more: There are a lot more cookbooks to choose from.
This cookbook is all about the love—so it’s perfect for whipping up a Mediterranean feast on a Saturday night in with your S.O., or just partnering for meal-prep. (Helping with chores? A true sign of a keeper.) From the husband-and-wife team of Tuscany chef Gabriele Corcos and his movie star wife Debi Mazar (currently starring as Maggie on Younger, and on her friggin’ amazing Instagram, with vintage Madonna, Goodfellas, and Diane Arbus inspo), it’s a cookbook that’ll make you want to linger in the kitchen and experiment together. Take it from Madge: “This book will save your life, your marriage, your heart.”
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