Stocking Your Mediterranean Pantry

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Thinking of starting the Mediterranean diet for the new year? There are a million reasons why this is a great idea. But to get started, you need the basics. Stocking Your Mediterranean Pantry with these foods is the best way to start.

In the world of healthy eating, the Mediterranean diet stands out for its emphasis on wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that offer a wealth of health benefits.

A gray surface covered in Mediterranean foods.
Photo Credit: monticello/Shutterstock.

While the Mediterranean spans many countries, and Mediterranean cooking is extremely varied, the Mediterranean way of eating that we are familiar with in the States (and the diet we are talking about here) is mostly found in:

  • Greece
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • Northern Africa

While meat is eaten in moderation, the diet includes a lot of plant-based protein and plenty of fiber (something Americans never get enough of). 

What Are The Top 10 Foods On A Mediterranean Diet?

  1. Olive Oil: A staple of the diet, rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Just make sure it’s the real stuff, and opt for the extra virgin variety.
  2. Fruits: Especially berries, oranges, apples, and grapes, providing vitamins, fiber, and natural sweetness.
  3. Vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumbers, leafy greens, onions, and peppers, offering a spectrum of nutrients.
  4. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds provide healthy fats and protein.
  5. Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, and beans, rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients.
  6. Whole Grains: Whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and bulgur, supplying fiber and various nutrients.
  7. Fish and Seafood: Particularly fatty fish like salmon and sardines, high in omega-3 fatty acids. Just make sure to avoid farm-raised seafood. Wild-caught is what you want.
  8. Herbs and Spices: Basil, oregano, garlic, and parsley, add flavor without excessive salt.
  9. Dairy: Greek yogurt and cheese, rich in calcium and probiotics (in moderation).
  10. Poultry and Eggs: Lean proteins that can be consumed in moderation.

What Do I Need In My Pantry For A Mediterranean Diet?

Central to this diet are certain pantry staples that provide a foundation for creating delicious, heart-healthy dishes. Here’s a beginner’s list of dry, canned, and jarred goods essential for anyone wanting to start the Mediterranean diet. Remember, this list is a suggestion. You can alter it for your own preferences and needs.

Grains and Legumes

Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, along with legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, form the base of many Mediterranean dishes. Their versatility and nutritional profile make them indispensable.

Whole Grains You Should Have In Your Pantry

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Farro
  • Whole grain pasta such as couscous

Legumes You Should Have In Your Pantry

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils (green, brown, or red)
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans

Canned and Jarred Goods

Tomatoes and tomato products, olives and olive oil, capers, pickles, and canned fish and seafood like tuna, anchovies, and sardines are essential components. These ingredients provide the rich, distinct flavors characteristic of Mediterranean cuisine.

Tomatoes and Tomato Products

  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

Olives and Olive Oil

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kalamata olives
  • Green olives

Capers and Pickles

  • Capers
  • Pickled vegetables (artichokes, peppers)
Organic bio bulk products. Foods storage in kitchen at low waste lifestyle. Cereals and grains in glass jars on table. Eco friendly shopping in plastic free grocery store.
Photo Credit: Svetlana Glazkova/Shutterstock.

Fish and Seafood

  • Canned tuna (preferably packed in olive oil or water.)
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines

Nuts, Seeds, Herbs, Spices, and Condiments

Nuts like almonds and walnuts, along with a variety of seeds, offer texture and nutritional value to dishes. Herbs and spices such as oregano, basil, paprika, and cumin infuse dishes with aromatic, savory notes. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other condiments bring depth and balance to flavors.

Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios

Seeds

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Sesame seeds

Herbs & Spices

  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried dill
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Ground coriander
  • Oregano
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley

Condiments

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Tahini

Other Pantry Staples

Dried fruits, honey, and more give you additional flexibility in your recipes.

  1. Honey
  2. Dried Fruits:
    • Raisins
    • Dates
    • Apricots
  3. Whole Garlic
  4. Onions
  5. Bouillon or Stock Cubes
  6. Whole Wheat Flour
  7. Cocoa Powder
An overhead view of a table filled with Mediterranean ingredients.
Photo Credit: Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock.

37 Ways To Use These Pantry Staples

Utilizing these Mediterranean diet pantry staples opens the door to a wide array of Mediterranean-inspired recipes. Here are thirty-seven suggestions for ways to combine these pantry staples into healthy, Mediterranean meals.

  1. Pasta with Tomato, Olive, and Capers: Combine whole grain pasta with canned tomatoes, olives, capers, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Mediterranean Chickpea Salad: Mix canned chickpeas with diced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, olives, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  3. Quinoa and Vegetable Stuffed Peppers: Use quinoa mixed with sautéed vegetables, herbs, and spices to stuff bell peppers.
  4. Mediterranean Chickpea Stew: Combine chickpeas, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and a blend of Mediterranean spices.
  5. Quinoa and Black Bean Salad: Mix cooked quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
  6. Olive and Herb Focaccia: Use olive oil, olives, and assorted herbs to create a flavorful homemade focaccia bread.
  7. Lentil and Tomato Soup: Simmer lentils with canned tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
  8. Pasta Puttanesca: Toss whole-grain pasta with a sauce made from tomatoes, olives, capers, and anchovies.
  9. Tuna and White Bean Salad: Combine canned tuna, cannellini beans, red onion, and a lemon vinaigrette.
  10. Sun-dried Tomato Pesto: Blend sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.
  11. Herb and Olive Oil Marinated Feta: Marinate feta cheese in olive oil, herbs, and a touch of lemon zest.
  12. Mediterranean Hummus Plate: Serve hummus with assorted olives, roasted red peppers, and whole-grain pita.
  13. Mushroom and Farro Risotto: Cook Farro with mushrooms, onions, and vegetable broth.
  14. Bulgur Tabbouleh Salad: Mix bulgur wheat with fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
  15. Cannellini Bean Bruschetta: Top toasted whole-grain bread with mashed cannellini beans, garlic, and olive oil.
  16. Mediterranean Vegetable Ratatouille: Combine eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes with herbs.
  17. Artichoke and Olive Pizza: Use artichoke hearts, olives, and a sprinkle of feta to top a whole-wheat pizza crust or whole-wheat pita bread.
  18. Sardine and Tomato Pasta: Create a pasta sauce with canned sardines, tomatoes, garlic, and chili flakes.
  19. Lemon and Herb Roasted Almonds: Toss almonds with lemon zest, rosemary, and a touch of olive oil, then roast.
  20. Cumin-Spiced Carrot Soup: Blend carrots, onions, cumin, and vegetable broth.
  21. Olive and Sundried Tomato Breadsticks: Add chopped olives and sun-dried tomatoes to breadstick dough.
  22. Minty Yogurt Dip: Mix fresh mint into Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey.
  23. Chickpea and Olive Tapenade: Blend chickpeas, olives, garlic, and olive oil.
  24. Tomato and Herb Frittata: Whisk eggs with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and feta.
  25. Lentil and Rice Pilaf: Combine lentils and rice with onions, garlic, and a sprinkle of cumin.
  26. Mediterranean Veggie Wrap: Fill a whole grain wrap with roasted vegetables, hummus, and mixed greens.
  27. Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms: Use quinoa mixed with herbs and garlic to stuff mushrooms before baking.
  28. Cannellini Bean Soup with Spinach: Simmer cannellini beans with garlic, spinach, and a dash of lemon.
  29. Olive Oil and Herb Roasted Potatoes: Toss potatoes with olive oil, herbs, and garlic, then roast until crispy.
  30. Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade Crostini: Spread crostini with a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers.
  31. Mediterranean-Inspired Tuna Salad: Mix canned tuna with diced cucumbers, red onions, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  32. Olive and Herb Focaccia Bread: Make a homemade focaccia using olive oil, olives, and a mix of Mediterranean herbs.
  33. Lentil and Tomato Stew: Simmer lentils with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and various spices.
  34. Mediterranean Rice Pilaf with Pine Nuts: Cook brown rice with pine nuts, raisins, and a hint of cinnamon.
  35. Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta: Blend sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil for a flavorful pesto to toss with pasta.
  36. Marinated Feta Cheese with Herbs and Lemon Zest: Marinate feta cheese in olive oil, herbs, and a touch of lemon zest for a zesty addition to salads or appetizers.
  37. Mediterranean Hummus Plate with Pita: Serve hummus with assorted olives, roasted red peppers, and whole grain pita for a delightful snack or appetizer.

Incorporating these pantry staples into your kitchen ensures that you’re equipped with all the basics you’ll need to start a Mediterranean diet. But you don’t have to go out and buy them all at once. Add them a week at a time as you do your grocery shopping and try new recipes.

By having these essential dry, canned, and jarred goods on hand, you can explore the flavors and health benefits the Mediterranean diet offers.

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