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Ok, so what is the best of the Mediterranean? I’m sure you’ll get a different answer from every one you ask. For me, it’s Italian. Of course now that I eat ME-gan style, Italian means something completely unlike the traditional way we consider Italian food to be. No more meat-a-balls, no more Christmas Eve salty cod, no more lasagna, no more chicken parm, no more fettucine alfredo…must I go on?

Ahh…but just when you think all food & flavors are lost…enter the best of the Mediterranean vegetables, marinaras, salads and more! ME-gan and ME-diterranean = best friends! However, Mediterranean dishes span beyond Italy. There are three continents and nearly twenty countries that touch the Mediterranean Sea. The cosmopolitan resorts of the South of France and the ancient cities of North Africa. This region is not only both ancient past and the modern world together, but is also deeply influenced by the sea and with no doubt, dedicated to the land! The land speaks to them. They are one with the land. Israel, Spain, France, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Italy and more! They all appreciate, and bring to their plates, the goodness that God has so graciously provided to us.

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Most of all, it is home to an illustrious style of cooking. The Mediterranean is full of life! Are you? Olives and olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and tangy citrus fruits are recurring culinary delights that have no boundaries. The marriage of sweet and sour, the use of fresh herbs and spices – yes these…….all these, are the basis of Mediterranean cooking! And moreover, it is home-style cooking at its best: robust, full of flavor, eccentric, and of course…made with love!

Every region has its own version of olive oil. Olive oil is the essence of Mediterranean cooking. Mild or fruity, the oil varies from region to region. And just as a side note, there must be hundreds of different olives! What would Mediterranean cooking be without it? Fuggitaboutit!

Let’s talk about the fresh produce, shall we? Fresh, outdoor markets line the streets, bursting with color. It’s Mother Nature’s palette. Purple or ‘shiny black’ eggplant, and tomatoes which are drenched by the sun, artichokes in hues of green, lemons and oranges that shimmer and give out such an amazingly sweet aroma, braids of garlic, bushels of beans and fragrant fresh herbs!  Are you ready for a trip to the Mediterranean yet? I am! Let’s go!

Lettuces, crisp peppers…still moist with a kiss from the morning dew, what beauty! It’s spiritual! Honey, roasted spices, raisins and all sorts of other dried fruits and nuts.

Flavor and freshness – that about sums it up! So, eat & enjoy, and taste and see the goodness of the Lord! Why don’t you surprise your family with Mediterranean cuisine tonight?

During Lent, my parish has been having a Soup & Bread Night on Mondays. Lee and I have been making ME-gan soups, served with gluten free vegan bread, donated by Gluten Free Creations Bakery, and it has really been a hit. I guess I can’t say I was surprised. Next Monday I will be making the below Provencal soup. I’m sure it too will be much enjoyed!

Soupe au Pistou

Ingredients (serves 8)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
2 leeks, white & light green parts, well washed & thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup cooked white kidney beans (cannellini)
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp. salt
10 cups water
1 cup green beans cut in 1 inch lengths
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
3/4 cup uncooked gluten free macaroni
 
Pistou
Note: Pistou is similar to pesto, minus the pine nuts. This basil pistou that is swirled in should not be heated, but added just before the soup is served.  Tradition and taste, both, indicate that pistou be made with a mortar and pestle, not a food processor.
 
3 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp. olive oil
 

 Directions

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or so, until soft. Add the leeks and garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white beans, carrot, salt and water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add the green beans, zucchini and macaroni, simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Pistou. In a mortar with a pestle, pound the garlic and salt until mashed. Add the basil and pound until well combined. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the oil and beat until well blended. To serve, remove the soup from the heat and stir in the Pistou.

As I always say…

Mangia!

Flavorful, colorful, aromatic, and semplicemente delizioso love to you! Ciao!

ME-ganly Mary

 
 
 
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