Yogurt is a traditional ingredient in Greece and eastern Mediterranean cultures. Practice serving Mediterranean dishes with yogurt and you’ll be incorporating a healthy, vital food into your diet. This delicious style of yogurt will increase your energy level and leave you feeling full and satisfied.
Yogurt in Mediterranean Cuisine
Americans often think of yogurt as a simple breakfast or a sweet snack. Greek yogurt is much more versatile. It’s made using a straining process that creates a thicker, slightly sour taste that’s much different from the yogurts of other regions.
Tahini is a sesame paste popular in the eastern Mediterranean, often used to flavor yogurt. Tahini yogurt is used as a condiment in many Greek and Mediterranean dishes, such as gyros made with falafel or lamb.
Yogurt cheese is another popular Mediterranean food that you can incorporate into your diet in creative ways. It’s called labne in Arabic, and is popular in Lebanon and Syria. Labne has a creamy consistency and a salty flavor. It’s traditionally made with ewe’s milk, and is incorporated into meals as a sauce, dressing or spread.
Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt
Mediterranean yogurts are healthier than their American alternatives. They contain more protein and they are typically not sweetened with calorie-laced artificial sugars. Mediterranean yogurts are also a great source of calcium and fiber.
Greek yogurt is good for the body in a variety of ways:
• assists weight-loss
• boosts general immunity
• builds stronger bones
• improves lactose intolerance
• lowers blood pressure
• regulates bacteria levels in the body.
Traditional Yogurt Dishes to Try
If you want to incorporate this healthy yogurt into your diet, consider several traditional Mediterranean dishes:
- Lamb Kofta with Harissa Yogurt Sauce: A traditional eastern Mediterranean dish that is generally lamb patties served over saffron jasmine rice and topped with Harissa yogurt sauce.
- Mediterranean Meatballs with Yogurt & Feta Sauce: Lamb or beef meatballs spiced with basil, oregano and parsley, topped with a creamy yogurt and cheese sauce.
- Greek Yogurt Walnut Curd: a dessert made with yogurt, lemon curd, orange zest and walnuts.
In addition to these tasty dishes, yogurt can be used to add flavor to sandwiches and pasta dishes. In order to best experience this yogurt, you’ll have to consider the other ingredients in the dish. Sharp herbs like basil and oregano will add a distinct Italian flair, while earthy spices like cinnamon and clove will take it in a sweeter direction.
When using yogurt in pasta, choosing the right olive oil is also important, as pure and refined oils can alter the taste.