I’ve spent lots of happy times eating around various parts of the Med, particularly many happy meals in Cyprus, and the so-called Mediterranean diet covers lots of my favourite flavours and dishes. So, reviewing The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Amy Riolo wasn’t really a chore for me.
Now, the whole bit about the world’s healthiest diet to live better and longer to me is a happy secondary benefit, and I don’t think it’s top of mind when most people in the Med cook this stuff each day. But I’ll let that bit go. I really like the variety of this book, and also that there are gluten free variations for the vast majority of recipes.
There were so many dishes I was tempted by, like the Libyan Lam Couscous, the Braised Fennel with Chestnuts and Shallots and the unusual sounding Sweet Carrot and Cardamom Torte. Given I was cooking for the kids as well though, I did tone it down a bit, and I’m saving that last one for another day.
We chose to do the Calabrian Chicken, Pepper, Tomato and Potato Stew, with a Mediterranean-style corn bread with mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. Sounds like a good combination, and a little different.
The stew took a lot of veg chopping but I had a small helper as well. I wasn’t sure about the instructions for cooking the veg, which is until light golden or 3 to 4 minutes. Personally I’d have browned off the onions first, then added the peppers and garlic, and it needed something. In spite of adjusting the seasoning to more than the recipe said, the final dish was a bit lacking in oomph, just a bit bland. Everyone ate it, but I wouldn’t cook it from the recipe again without modifications.
I think that maybe my cornmeal wasn’t a coarse enough grind, as the bread wasn’t really a bread at all. It was much more like a set polenta, and wasn’t well liked by the kids. To be honest, it worked better the next day when we griddled some on the BBQ.
I’m definitely going to give some more of these recipes a go, but will definitely be checking the seasoning as I go, and checking if there’s a way to get additional flavours in through the cooking methods.
Published by Fair Winds Press, this is currently £13.49 at Waterstones with free UK delivery.