13 Mediterranean Side Dishes That Add Flair

There are countless cookbooks filled with Mediterranean side dish recipes based on The Mediterranean Diet. And by diet, I don't mean the drudgery of dropping extra pounds. I mean the Mediterranean way of eating.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating based on the traditional foods of Italy, Greece, Spain, and Israel. The meal plan is clean and heart-healthy, full of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seafood, olive oil, and dairy. Any of the following side dish recipes can be turned into main dishes by adding an animal protein. Salmon is especially delicious.

The Mediterranean diet is so much more than just Greek salad and hummus. It's even more than screaming "babaganoush!" at the top of your lungs because it's fun to say.  Mediterranean food is popular among vegetarians and vegans with so many plant-based meals to choose from with optional lean meat, chicken, or fish. With more servings of whole grains and olive oil as the main source of fat, you really don't sacrifice anything in these Mediterranean side dishes.

Mediterranean Side Dishes To Make Now

1. Lemon Infused Israeli Couscous

Fun Fact: Israeli couscous is toasted before being packaged, giving it a nuttier flavor. Parmesan cheese and butter give this recipe a creamy texture and taste.

2. Mediterranean Green Beans

The little bit of baking soda in this recipe helps to soften the green beans. Green beans should be fork tender. Nobody wants a soggy green bean!!

3. Mediterranean Style Grilled Zucchini Salad

Hey, don't crowd the zucchini! No, seriously...don't crowd your zucchini together when grilling to make sure you get a good char on each each slice. It's the char that really brings out the flavor in addition to the fresh herbs.

4. Oregano Lemon Roasted Chick Peas

Roast these chickpeas at an even slightly higher temperature than the recipe calls for so your garbanzo beans (aka chick peas) do double duty as a crunchy salad topping.

5. Mediterranean Roasted Artichokes

The good news...artichokes are loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and potassium! The bad news...Most of us are terrified of them! This recipe gives great tips on how to buy and prepare artichokes so you can impress all the scaredy cats at your next dinner party or cookout.

6. Mediterranean Baked Feta & Cherry Tomatoes

One baking dish is all you need. I LOVE feta cheese. It's that satisfying salty flavor with the crumbly texture. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and the salty olives balance it all out. Put on your eating pants and get the tv remote ready. You'll want to be alone with this Mediterranean side dish.

7. Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Lentils are like little protein and iron bombs. And we all need that in our diets. A little honey in the vinaigrette dressing for this lettuce-free salad makes it very easy to eat by the bowlful.

8. Mediterranean Three Bean Quinoa Salad

Green beans, garbanzo beans, and white cannellini beans with those pretty colors of cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and fresh basil. The quinoa is a perfect whole grain that gives a magical protein punch. Pat yourself on the back. You have erased that entire bag of Cheetos you stress-ate last week by eating this super healthy salad recipe .

9. Party Hummus With Pomegranate & Pistachio

You will the Queen/King of any Christmas gathering with this red and green appetizer. The pomegranates are that deep red color and the pistachios and parsley (or try cilantro) are so pretty on top of creamy hummus. You can use pistachios instead of toasted pine nuts or use both!

10. Orzo Pasta Salad

The orzo has tons of flavor from being cooked in chicken broth and lemon juice. And ready for the unexpected ingredient? Caramelized sweet corn....dear lord,,,that's good. Drizzle some thinned tahini sauce (sesame paste) over this healthy side dish and freshly ground black pepper

11. Tzatziki Sauce

Is there anything that doesn't taste good with tzatziki sauce? I say no. Fish, chicken, beef, vegetables, bread (especially crispy pita bread triangles), crackers, just a spoon and my mouth...yeah I said it. Take the time to drain the cucumbers and excess liquid from the Greek yogurt and sour cream for the thickest sauce.

12. Roasted Greek Veggies

Try to keep your vegetables about the same size. And if you have heftier veggies like carrots and potatoes, keep those in one row on on your roasting pan separate from the faster cooking ones like skinny beans, or onions slivers. That way you can more control over how charred your final product comes out. Use the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford. Many of the best Italian wineries are producing amazing olive oils.

13. Cucumber & Tomato Feta Salad

This colorful salad is soooo simple yet looks so fancy. I like to throw some capers in to make bring out the classic Greek flavors of this salad.  After the Mediterranean flavors really meld together, this salad tastes even better the next day. Or standing in front of an open refrigerator in a dark kitchen after everyone has finally gone to sleep. Just you, a spoon, and a your thoughts. And maybe some olive oil on your nightgown.