Is it just us or does it seem like *literally* everyone is in Italy right now? Short of having to book a flight there—which, for as nice as it would be, isn't the most practical course of action—the next best thing would be to bring on the flavors of said destination home. And it's not just Italy we're talking about but the entirety of the Mediterranean and the picture-perfect locales that dot the spanning coastline. From Santorini to Barcelona, and every other city in between, ahead are the recipes you'll find the locals indulging in—so you can pretend you're on a getaway, even when you're not.
Baked Whole Fish
Pop into any Mediterranean eatery in the summer and you'll come across a baked whole fish on the menu. Often prepared in a salt-roasted encasing, the dish is one that exudes simplicity with a deep and dynamic flavor profile. Whip up this baked whole fish with rice cakes and black sesame chili sauce at your next dinner party and we guarantee that it will be an instant crowd-pleaser.
We can't imagine an Italian meal sans at least one course that features fresh mozzarella or burrata. Simply pair it with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil and you're set. Take things to the next level by adding in stone fruit for a sweet note, just like this mint-basil vinaigrette-dressed dish from Vegetarian Ventures.
Arguably one of the more popular ingredients one may come across in Rome, fried zucchini flowers are an elusive dish limited to just a fraction of time in the summer months. We're whipping up this take from Gourmet Traveller that features ricotta, parmesan, and a mint and anchovy sauce.
Melon and Prosciutto
Yet another Italian classic, the mouthwatering combination of melon and prosciutto results in a pairing that is effortless yet bold and chock full of sweet and savory flavor. Take things to the next level with Food & Wine's grilled version, which also features a touch of mozzarella and a fragrant hint of parsley.
A far and distance cousin of the sardine, anchovies typically get a bad rep as a result of their often salty taste. But buy them fresh and marinade it yourself and you'll end up with a deliciously refreshing ingredient that can be paired with a wide variety of dishes. We're loving this rendition from Bon Appetit, featuring oil-packed anchovies and a white vinegar marinade with a lemon-peperoncini garnish.
This mainstay has a cult-like following in Spain (and beyond), and for good reason—it's definitely not your typical cut of ham. Flavorful yet delicate, it instantly satisfies—its versatility in being able to be paired with a wide variety of sweet and savory ingredients earmarks the tapas classic as a must. While sourcing an authentic version of jamón ibérico may prove to be difficult in the States, try popping into a local gourmet market or specialty food store. Remember, the finely sliced, the better.
And while it's undeniably delicious as is, we also love it in the form of croquetas, yet another must-have that's sure to please. Whip up this mouthwatering version from Salted Mint!
The aromatic characteristic of fennel earmarks the green as a superpower ingredient. Simplicity is key when utilizing it within a recipe, as it has the ability to hold a dish, sans the need for a superfluous number of additions. Try it out in the form of a salad—like this shaved fennel version with walnuts and croutons from Bon Appetit—which comes with a medley of fresh herbs and spices that accentuate the flavor of the ingredient without overpowering it.
Don't let the looks of this one fool you. Octopus is easier to make than one may think. Sure, a bit goes into the prep but once you have it cleaned, the rest is a breeze. Food & Wine's grilled version comes paired with potatoes and a lemon-paprika garnish that seals the deal.
Sardines are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and for good reason. Packed with nutrients and vitamins, the versatile flavor profile of the fish earmark it as a culinary staple. If you find the fresh variety hard to come by, a canned alternative will work just as well. Layer some on a slice of crispy toast or simply indulge in them straight from the can.
The secret to the ultimate Greek salad? It's all about high-quality feta and the oregano. Yep, something as simple as an herb can elevate even the most simple of combos—a trio of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, included. Try this version from Food Network out for an easy weeknight meal.