The warm climates of these coastal countries provide ample produce to inspire seasonal Mediterranean cuisines year round.
Seasonal Produce in Mediterranean Cultures
Except for the mountainous northern and eastern regions, the countries of the Mediterranean coast typically enjoy weather that is warm-to-hot year round. Countries like Greece and Italy take advantage of their mineral rich soil. The growing seasons in these areas are from October to January and mid-March to July.
Short periods of extreme heat and cold cause most plant life to fall into dormancy in between these seasons. The region still experiences long seasons with abundant harvests. Mediterranean cultures take full advantage of their local offerings by incorporating these fruits, vegetables and legumes into their daily diet.
Eating by the Season
Summer is the most plentiful season for fruits, vegetables and legumes, all of which form the base of a balanced Mediterranean diet. Autumn is prime season for pit fruits, squashes and root vegetables. The colder winter months offer little more than leafy greens and roots. Spring brings a wider selection of greens, roots and berries.
Popular seasonal produces of the Mediterranean region include:
• sweet potatoes.
Seasonal Foods to Enjoy
Mediterranean cultures place an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients, and some meals are reserved for certain times of year.
This is especially true in winter, when many of the dishes are reserved for specific holidays. These include:
• Roast Leg of Lamb: Served with candied-root vegetables like sweet potatoes and onions
• Aubergine: A stuffed-eggplant recipe that uses sweet potato, chicken breast and spices
• Hypocras: A spiced-wine traditionally reserved for winter holidays.
Summer Mediterranean cuisine includes dishes like grilled salmon with salsa verde (green salsa) and lentil salad. Other popular summer salads are Cypriot and Caprese. A Moroccan favorite is grilled, spice-crusted lamb served with hot chili sauce. Light pasta dishes are more popular in summer, including marsala dishes cooked with chicken, veal or vegetables.
Seasonal Mediterranean dishes that incorporate locally grown produce and strong flavor combinations are some of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.