Hi! How are you coping?
It is true that we are all experiencing a unique reality. Schools are closed, the majority of us work from home if it is possible. Only supermarkets and grocery stores are open. It all feels so surreal.
Yes, we stay at home. It is not easy especially when the weather is so inviting to go outside and have some fun under the sun (like in Greece right now). But no, we do stay at home because mindfulness and social responsibility are the most important values right now.
From my little cyber corner, I will do my best to help and inspire you for some delicious home cooking and clever ways to use pantry staples. The Mediterranean staples of course. I wanted to create a round-up of my favorite Mediterranean Greek recipes using pantry staples (freezer and refrigerator included) along with a list with Mediterranean staples (including fresh produce) that last a long time if properly stored.
Nevertheless, a well-stocked pantry is important anytime. Nowadays, it is crucial to organize a pantry that can help you cut down on the number of trips to the store later. No reason to panic here because you are going to buy just for the sake of buying.
You can still make great food at home and feed your family right. You got the time and the energy to tackle cooking projects. How about making your own bread and pita bread from scratch? How about spending time with your kids in the kitchen cooking together? How about taking advantage of a scary situation and turning it into a positive one? Are you with me on this?
MEDITERRANEAN PANTRY STAPLES
To begin with, it’s important to know what you have in your pantry and make a list of the items that are about to expire. Stack the older staples at the front of your shelves in order to use them first. Then make your shopping list and add the items you usually purchase. Below is a comprehensive list of the Mediterranean friendly items that won’t go bad, even if you don’t end up using them within the next month or so. They are extremely handy and help you throw together a meal at a moment’s notice.
BEANS AND LEGUMES
Dried beans, chickpeas, lentils
Whole wheat/grain pasta
Low sodium beans, legumes
Tinned fish (tuna, anchovies, sardines)
Whole grain/wheat flour
Dried oregano, basil, rosemary, mint
Frozen veggies and fruit
Frozen meat (poultry)
MORE USEFUL ITEMS
EVVO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Red Wine Vinegar
FRESH FOOD WITH A LONG SHELF LIFE
These fresh produce items last a long time if properly stored.
Fruits: Apples (up to 2 months.) Store whole apples in the refrigerator.
Oranges (up to 4 weeks.) Store whole oranges in the refrigerator.
Vegetables: Onions (up to 2 months). Store them in a cool, dry place.
Garlic (up to 2 months). Store whole heads in the refrigerator.
Cabbage (up to 1 month) Store whole heads in the refrigerator in a breathable bag.
Carrots (up to 3 weeks) Refrigerate.
Beets (up to 2 weeks) Cut off the greens (boil them and serve them with olive oil and lemon or vinegar) Refrigerate the roots in a breathable bag.
Lemons (up to 5 weeks) Refrigerate.
Potatoes (up to 5 weeks.) Store in a cool, dark place. Not in the fridge.
Sweet Potatoes (up to 5 weeks) Store in a cool, dry place. Not in the fridge.
Winter squashes (up to 3 months) Store butternut and acorn squashes in a cool, dry place. Not in the fridge.
Dill, Parsley, mint Wash, dry and chop. Separate into portions and place them in the freezer.
MEDITERRANEAN PANTRY COOKING
15 Mediterranean recipes that rely mostly on plant-based pantry staples. If you don’t have an ingredient, just substitute it for whatever you have on hand. For example, you can easily switch out brown rice for another grain like quinoa or pasta.
You may easily use up leftovers and make additional meals using grains.
Mediterranean breakfast is very simple. It is usually a combination of grains, nuts, fruits, and eggs.
Make your own whole wheat bread or pitas and combine them with honey, goat cheese, tahini, homemade jams, and nut butter. Make your own “breakfast cereal” with oats, almond, raisin, dried fruits and serve it over yogurt with honey.
LUNCH AND DINNER RECIPES
Here are 4 major food categories that will keep you full and healthy providing delicious meals. All the recipes below can be stretched and you may easily repurpose leftovers. So, it would be clever to batch-cook.
1st Food Category – Legumes
Legumes: dried bean, lentil, chickpea, and yellow split pea. Items with longer shelf life, easy to cook and delicious. Batch-cook and repurpose leftovers using brown rice, pasta, and grains. Add meat and seafood as well.
Packed full of healthy ingredients, flavored with the most favorite Mediterranean combo –lemon and oregano. Add some brown rice or other grain to leftover soup and make another delicious meal.
This one-pot quick meal needs zero prep and calls for endless delicious combinations. However, this Mediterranean version can satisfy even the most demanding picky eaters.
Fava is the Greek name of a scrumptious yellow split pea puree. Ready to cook it because it doesn’t need soaking. It can be eaten as a dip or you can spread it over freshly baked bread. Nevertheless, I love it when I combine it with shrimp and octopus for a complete meal.
Have you ever baked your beans? This amazing recipe with giant beans calls for tomato and tons of herbs. The beans are cooked to perfection because they are so creamy you cannot believe you eat beans.
Affordable, filling, super comforting, easy to cook, highly nutritious and an excellent source of non-animal protein. This thick and hearty white bean soup called fasolada is the National food of Greece and for a good reason. Found out why and make two versions: the white version with lemon and the red version with tomato.
2nd Food Category – Vegetables (Ladera)
Delicious dishes with tons of vegetables braised in tomato, herbs and olive oil. A perfect way to use up your highly-perishable fresh veggies first. Keep the frozen vegetables last. These dishes are perfect to repurpose leftovers. All you have to do is to mix them with grains, meat, and seafood.
3d Food Category – Pies
When I feel down or stressed and I really need healthy, homemade comfort food, I simply make a pie. The procedure is totally therapeutic and the outcome is delicious. Another excellent way to use your fresh or frozen vegetables, herbs and leftovers. Make a delicious filling and wrapped it up with phyllo. Not only delicious but those savory pies are an all-day meal.
Be safe and take the necessary precautions for you and your family.
I send to you all my love, prayers and positive energy to get you through.