The Mediterranean diet has been getting a lot of press over the last decade, and for good reason. Not only does the plan allow you to enjoy grains, fats, and even wine, but the primarily plant-based diet is consistently ranked one of the best healthy eating plans to follow. With a focus on eating a wide variety of antioxidant-rich produce and a moderate amount of nuts and fish high in omega-3s (while limiting red meat), the diet can reduce inflammation and stress in the body. Plus, according to the latest research, following the eating plan can even protect your brain and slow mental decline as you age.
1. Courgette tortilla with toppings
Transform everyday eggs into a flavour-packed dish with houmous, peppers and olives
- a great healthy, vegetarian lunch.
Heat the oil in a 20cm non-stick frying pan, add the courgette and cook for a few mins, stirring occasionally, until softened. Meanwhile, beat the harissa with the eggs and pour into the pan. Cook gently, stirring, to allow the uncooked egg to flow onto the base of the pan. When it is two-thirds cooked, leave it untouched for 2 mins to set. Slide onto a plate, then return to the pan, uncooked-side down, to finish cooking.
To serve, tip onto a board and spread with the houmous. Scatter with the pepper, olives and coriander. Cut into quarters and eat warm or cold.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large courgette, coarsely grated
1 tsp harissa
4 large eggs
3 tbsp reduced-fat houmous
1 large red pepper from a jar, torn into strips
3 pitted queen olives, quartered handful coriander
2. Roast sea bass & vegetable traybake
Apply a no-fuss touch to fish in this all-in-one Italian-inspired bake with crispy potatoes, roasted peppers and olives.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Arrange the potato and pepper slices on a large non-stick baking tray. Drizzle over 1 tbsp oil and scatter with the rosemary, a pinch of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Toss everything together well and roast for 25 mins, turning over halfway through, until the potatoes are golden and crisp at the edges.
Arrange the fish fillets on top and scatter over the olives. Place a couple of lemon slices on top of the fish and drizzle with the remaining oil. Roast for further 7-8 mins until the fish is cooked through. Serve scattered with basil leaves.
300g red-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds
1 red pepper, cut into strips
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 rosemary sprig, leaves removed and very finely chopped
2 sea bass fillets
25g pitted black olive, halved
½ lemon, sliced thinly into rounds handful basil leaves
3. Asparagus & courgette salad with feta & sesame seeds
Griddling vegetables gives them a deeper flavour, which matches the toasted seeds and salty cheese perfectly.
Heat a small frying pan and add the sesame seeds. Cook, shaking the pan and making sure the seeds don’t burn. When they are fragrant and have turned a light teak colour, tip them onto a saucer.
Steam the asparagus for 3-4 mins until almost done. Drop into a bowl of iced water to cool, then drain and wrap in a tea towel to dry really well. Cook the peas for 3 mins in the boiling water used to steam the asparagus, then drain and cool under a cold tap. Slice the courgettes on the diagonal, about 0.5cm thick.
Heat a griddle pan until very hot. Brush the asparagus and courgette slices with the oil, and cook in batches until nicely striped with dark brown. Cut the asparagus into 5cm lengths.
Mix the asparagus, courgettes, peas, rocket, feta and lemon zest. Grind over some black pepper and sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving.
1 tsp sesame seed
1 tsp sesame or olive oil
Small handful rocket leaves
20g feta cheese grated zest ½ lemon
4. Rosemary chicken with oven-roasted ratatouille
You can't beat this low-fat, one-pot recipe for an easy meal, bursting with summer colour and flavour. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. In a large roasting tin, toss together the aubergine, courgettes and peppers with half the chopped rosemary, half the garlic, 2 tbsp oil and some seasoning. Spread out the vegetables in an even layer, then roast in the oven for 20 mins.
Meanwhile, mix remaining rosemary, garlic and oil together. Slash each of the chicken breasts 4-5 times with a sharp knife, brush over the flavoured oil, season and chill for 15 mins. After veg have cooked for 20 mins, stir in the tomatoes. Make spaces in the roasting tin and nestle the chicken breasts amongst the vegetables. Place a rosemary sprig on top of each chicken breast. Return the tin to the oven for 18-20 mins, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are lightly caramelised. Serve with some new potatoes, if you like.
1 aubergine, cut into chunky pieces
2 courgettes, sliced into half-moons
3 mixed peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary, plus 4 small sprigs
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
250g cherry or baby plum tomato, halved
5. Herby lamb fillet with caponata
Tick off all 5 of your 5 a day with this super-healthy Sunday roast. To make it vegetarian, omit the lamb and add chickpeas to the caponata.
Slice 2 of the garlic cloves for the caponata, finely grate the other for the lamb and set aside. Heat the oil for the caponata in a wide pan, add the onion and fry for 5 mins to soften. Tip in the aubergine and cook, stirring, for 5 mins more. Add the passata and pepper with the olives, capers, rosemary and balsamic vinegar, then cover and cook for 15 mins, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 190C/170C fan/ gas 5. Boil the potatoes for 10 mins, then drain. Mix the grated garlic with the rosemary and some black pepper, then rub all over the lamb. Toss the potatoes in the oil with some more black pepper, place in a small roasting tin with the lamb and roast for 15-20 mins.
Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in the microwave or in a pan, and squeeze to drain any excess liquid. Stir the garlic into the caponata and serve with the lamb, either whole or sliced, rolled in parsley if you like, with the potatoes and spinach.
3 garlic cloves
For the caponata
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 aubergine, sliced and quartered
500g carton passata
1 green pepper, quartered, deseeded and sliced
6 pitted Kalamata olives, halved and rinsed
2 tsp capers, rinsed
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
For the lamb & potatoes
4 baby new potatoes, halved
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp rapeseed oil
250g lean lamb loin fillet, all visible fat removed
240g bag baby spinach finely chopped parsley (optional)