Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (2024)

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (1)

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Saskia Kemsley19 December 2023

When we think of the Mediterranean, we picture brilliant blue skies reflected in deep turquoise seas, white stone houses, fresh fish grilled to perfection and a permeating aroma of citrus and olive.

While indeed a magical picture, this associative image doesn’t accurately reflect the diverse collection of countries which constitute the Mediterranean. Rather, this is more or less an image of Greece alone.

Popularised in the 1960s by husband-and-wife duo physiologist Ancel Keys and chemist Margaret Keys, the Mediterranean Diet – contrary to popular belief – doesn’t consist of the actual culinary habits of Mediterranean countries. Instead, it is a diet inspired by the cuisines of regions and countries including southern Spain, southern Italy, France and Crete. So, if it’s the Mediterranean Diet you’re after, it’s time to expand on that lovely image of Grecian islands.

The Keys, credited with bringing the Mediterranean Diet to the mainstream, took an interest in Mediterranean eating habits after it was discovered that they had a greater life expectancy than those living elsewhere in Europe.

Is the Mediterranean Diet healthy?

Later, a series of clinical studies demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet combined with exercise and not smoking was effective at reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Researchers also found that the Mediterranean diet could prevent cognitive decline and depression.

According to the British Heart Foundation, further research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet can reduce the risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease.

What should you eat on a Mediterranean diet?

The main constituents of the Med Diet are grains such as bread, pasta, rice, couscous and bulgar, as well as fruits, vegetables, beans, cheese, yoghurt and olive oil– together with other indigenous foods including red meat, fish and poultry. Designed to incorporate the very best of what the Mediterranean landscape has to offer, it is a diet which focuses on abundance rather than limitation.

Whether you’re looking for a highly-specific Mediterranean Diet cookbook, or are simply hoping to explore the vast and varied traditional cuisines of the Mediterranean and bring fresh inspiration to your mid-week dinners – we’ve got you covered.

Keep scrolling for a selection of the best Mediterranean Diet guides and Mediterranean cookbooks on the market.

Read More

Best Greek cookbooks for delicious traditional recipesBest Spanish cookbooks for tapas and other classic dishesBest vegan cookbooks for tasty plant-based meals, from Leon to Bosh!

Ottolenghi Simple

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (5)

Ottolenghi

The platinum standard of Mediterranean-style cookbooks, Ottolenghi’s Simple is home to a diverse selection of native Middle Eastern recipes which promise to nourish body and soul.

Beloved for staying true to its title, the London-based chef talks readers through whipping up seemingly complicated meals with ease – whether you’re in a pinch or you’ve got time to kill. Indeed, the brilliant cookbook follows an acronymic structure: S is for short on time: less than 30 minutes, I is 10 ingredients or less, M is make ahead, P is pantry, L is lazy and E is easier than you think.

Simple is crafted around 10 basic pantry ingredients which, once you own, open a world of recipes beyond the realm of Simple alone; you can buy the ‘flavour bombs’ including black garlic, rose harissa and tahini via Ottolenghi.

Buy now£20, Amazon

Rustica

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (6)

Ryland Peters & Small

Though on the shorter side, Chef Theo Michaels takes us through the essentials of village eating in the heart of Cyprus in wondrous detail. Extolling a mindful attitude towards cooking which focuses on nourishing oneself without sticking to a prescribed diet, Michaels offers us the core recipes and key ingredients which can help us to arrive at truly honest and Cypriot-inspired eating habits. Learn how to make Strapatsada (Greek scrambled eggs with feta, tomatoes and fresh herbs), pasta with pangritata (picked black radish ceviche) and so much more.

Buy now£14.39, Amazon

Nistisima: The secret to delicious Mediterranean vegan food

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (7)

Bloomsbury

A no-frills vegan guide to the Mediterranean diet, award-winning food writer Georgina Hayden offers up a whopping 120 vegan recipes for those looking to replicate the nourishing wonders of a Med Diet without the addition of livestock and seafood. A particularly brilliant kitchen library addition for those who value homemade sweet treats, Hayden’s book covers savoury and sweet recipes in equal measure. No morning is complete without the nutty smoothness of tahini, cinnamon and carob pancakes.

Buy now£20.23, Amazon

5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (8)

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Mediterranean makes an ideal springboard for those unfamiliar with the cuisine of far sunnier climates. Despite the overwhelming popularity of vegetables like aubergines and courgettes in recent years, not every Brit has been brave enough to embark on a recipe containing the essential veggies.

Fear not, for Jamie Oliver has compiled 125 easy-to-follow, empowering recipes that will inspire you to be more daring with your foray into the Mediterranean diet. You’ll be graduating from the Soups & Sarnies section into that of Seafood in no time. In the mood for something vegetarian? 65 per cent of the recipes are meat-free or meat-reduced to save you time and money.

Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (9)

Amazon

Middle Eastern food is synonymous with feasting and with that comes an array of amazing mezze dishes: small plates of food shared between people. In just six chapters, Persiana presents modern and accessible recipes of breads, salads and sharing plates that are impressive enough to serve at large gatherings, but also easy enough to rustle up on a weeknight evening for the family.

Alongside these recipes comes photography of dishes such as Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken and Bejewelled Rice, the sight of which alone will make your stomach grumble. Be prepared to have your house immersed in these bold smells as you try out cooking dishes fit for an Arabian king.

To begin, stock up your pantry on key Middle Eastern spices such as sumac, zaatar and cinnamon in advance as these recipes require a lot of them.

Buy now£17.25, Amazon

Falastin: A Cookbook

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (10)

Amazon

Penned by the co-authors of many Ottolenghi cookbooks comes this invaluable compendium of Palestinian dishes that match tradition and modernity to create 110 mouth-watering recipes of which you will want to cook them all.

We were most struck by the endless flavour combinations and each recipe feels like an experience of its own as you admire the rich photography, read tales from Palestine’s unheard voices and breathe in the rich aromas of your cooking.

The cookbook really does feature everything: summer salads, heart-warming soups, simple one-pot dishes and the fluffiest bread imaginable. Try the Aubergine, Chickpea and Tomato Bake to liven up a vegan friendly meal or the Chicken Musakhan to spruce up a Sunday lunch.

Buy now£20.19, Amazon

Moro: The Cookbook

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (11)

Ebury Press

A beloved Spanish cookbook that has reigned supreme in kitchens for over twenty years, we’d be remiss not to include Moro in this round-up.

Detailing a myriad of recipes stretching from Spain to North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, Sam & Sam Clark’s accomplished, passionate and instructional cookbook teaches us how to replicate the distillation of authentic flavours from across the Mediterranean ocean achieved in their London restaurant of the same name at home.

Buy now£25.75, Amazon

Yiayia by Anastasia Miari

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (12)

Hardie Grant Books

A love letter to the sheer mystical power of a grandmother’s belly-filling, delicious and nourishing home-cooking, Yiayia by Anastasia Miari is an anthology of traditional Greek recipes created and continued by grandmothers from all corners of the country.

From stuffed courgettes perfected in Lesvos to mouth-watering Ionian pasta dishes - Miari ditches the dishes that the general public traditionally associates with Greek cooking to delve into deeper historical knowledge.

This delightful cookbook would make a fantastic gift for those who live away from their Greek families and are looking to cook up some nostalgia, or culinary enthusiasts looking to explore recipes perfected by the passage of time.

Buy now£27, Waterstones

Greece: The Cookbook

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (13)

Amazon

For those after a comprehensive guide to Greek cuisine, look no further than Greece: The Cookbook. Packed with over 600 recipes written by none other than chef aficionado, Vefa Alexiadou, there’s everything from simple breakfast breads and dips such as Tzatziki to extravagant meals packed with seasonal produce like the Chicken with Pickled Lemon and Stuffed Zucchini.

There’s also plenty of information on regional specialities and the significance of certain dishes - after all, food is irrevocably linked with culture and history. With 230 photographs, every dish looks as appetising as the next, and the only problem you’ll encounter is deciding which recipe to try next (we recommend the Shrimp Casserole with Vegetables).

Buy now£32.79, Amazon

Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (14)

Amazon

It’s the fresh produce, variety of foods and high-quality ingredients that make the Mediterranean diet one of the healthiest out there. Renowned chef, Marianna Leivaditaki has compiled flavour-forward recipes from the sea, land and mountains with a focus on seasonal produce and delicious dishes that are perfect for sharing and enjoying with company.

Fish lovers will delight in the Fried Anchovies and Potatoes and the Whole Charcoal-grilled Fish with Lemon, whilst meat lovers will thoroughly enjoy cooking a Roasted Lamb Breast with Spicy Feta Sauce for an original take on a Sunday lunch. The desserts are also not to be missed - the Crispy Filo Custard and Cretan Mangoes are the epitome of summer and slightly too easy to eat. Scattered amongst the delicious recipes and words of wisdom that she picked up on her journey, you’ll find wonderful anecdotes of her childhood in Crete helping out in her family’s taverna.

Buy now£23.59, Amazon

Under the Olive Tree: Recipes from my Greek Kitchen

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (15)

Amazon

2019’s MasterChef champion, Irini Tzortzoglu perfectly captures Greek gastronomy with 80 accessible recipes that produce colourful and flavoursome dishes. There are quick meals such as sun-kissed salads - the Aubergine topped with Bulgur, Sultanas, Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts is heavenly - as well as dishes fit for a feast such as the Moussaka and Chickpea Cumin Fritters that are perfect for dinner parties and special occasions.

Every recipe features a classic combination of flavours whilst also incorporating a modern twist that adds that extra bit of deliciousness; for example, the Sweetcorn Puree perfectly elevates the divine Braised Octopus in Red Wine.

Buy now£21, Amazon

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

The Mediterranean Diet is a popular eating pattern that is inspired by the cuisines of various regions and countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including southern Spain, southern Italy, France, and Crete. It was popularized in the 1960s by physiologist Ancel Keys and chemist Margaret Keys, who took an interest in Mediterranean eating habits after discovering that people in these regions had a greater life expectancy than those living elsewhere in Europe [[1]].

Numerous clinical studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet, when combined with exercise and not smoking, can reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. It has also been found to prevent cognitive decline and depression. Additionally, research has shown that the Mediterranean Diet can reduce the risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and raised cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease [[1]].

The main constituents of the Mediterranean Diet include grains such as bread, pasta, rice, couscous, and bulgur, as well as fruits, vegetables, beans, cheese, yogurt, and olive oil. It also incorporates other indigenous foods such as red meat, fish, and poultry. The diet focuses on abundance rather than limitation, emphasizing the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods [[1]].

If you're interested in exploring the Mediterranean Diet further, there are several cookbooks available that provide a range of recipes and inspiration. Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi: This cookbook offers a diverse selection of native Middle Eastern recipes that promise to nourish both body and soul. It features meals that can be prepared quickly, with 10 or fewer ingredients, and includes make-ahead options [[2]].

  2. Rustica by Theo Michaels: This cookbook delves into the essentials of village eating in Cyprus, offering core recipes and key ingredients for truly honest and Cypriot-inspired eating habits. It includes dishes such as Greek scrambled eggs with feta, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and pasta with pangritata [[3]].

  3. Nistisima: The secret to delicious Mediterranean vegan food by Georgina Hayden: This vegan guide to the Mediterranean diet provides 120 vegan recipes that replicate the nourishing wonders of the Mediterranean without the addition of livestock and seafood. It covers both savory and sweet recipes [[4]].

  4. 5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food by Jamie Oliver: This cookbook is an ideal starting point for those unfamiliar with Mediterranean cuisine. It features 125 easy-to-follow recipes that inspire readers to be more daring with their exploration of the Mediterranean diet. The majority of the recipes are meat-free or meat-reduced [[5]].

These are just a few examples of the many Mediterranean Diet cookbooks available. Each offers its own unique take on the cuisine and provides a wealth of recipes to try. Whether you're looking for specific Greek or Spanish recipes, vegan options, or a comprehensive guide to Greek cuisine, there is a cookbook out there to suit your preferences [[2]] [[3]] [[4]] [[5]].

Remember, the Mediterranean Diet is not just about the food itself but also about the overall lifestyle, including regular physical activity, social connections, and a focus on enjoying meals with family and friends.

Best Mediterranean diet cookbooks for delicious and healthy recipes (2024)

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