When you think about Mediterranean food, your mind may go to pizza and pasta from Italy, or lamb chops from Greece, but these dishes don’t fit into the healthy dietary plans advertised as “Mediterranean.”
Most of us are familiar with the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet which is based on the diets of people from Crete, Greece, and Southern Italy. The Mediterranean diet has become popular because individuals show low rate of heart disease, chronic disease, and obesity. The Mediterranean diet profile focuses on whole grains, good fats (fish, olive oil, nuts etc.), vegetables, fruits, fish, and very low consumption of any non-fish meat.
Along with food, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes the need to spend time eating with family and physical activity, not to mention the Biblical injunction of wine to make glad the heart of man!
Mediterranean Vegetable Casserole
This is a big recipe. It’s proportionally easy to cut it in half if you’re serving a smaller crowd.
10-12 cloves garlic
2 ribs celery
2 bell peppers (red, green, orange or yellow)
2 large eggplant (or 4-6 Chinese or smaller variety)
2-4 tomatoes (Roma or smaller variety)
1/2c extra virgin olive oil (or you can drown the vegetables in oil for all I care)
1/2c lemon juice
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
½ bunch parsley, chopped
salt to taste
Coarsely chop all vegetables and toss in oil, juice, fresh herbs and salt.
Bake covered with foil in a large casserole dish at 300F for 3 hrs.
Stir and recover with foil after 1-1/2 hrs.
Pair this with Brander’s 2018 Sauvignon Blanc LOD (Los Olivos District). The 42nd vintage of their Flagship Sauvignon blanc, this wine is comprised of juice from 50% estate grown fruit, 40% Mesa Verde Vineyard, and the rest from surrounding vineyards in the Los Olivos District. During harvest, grapes are picked at different levels of ripeness resulting in a wine that is balanced and has complementary levels of concentration, fruit, and acidity. With consistent tropical, herbal, and citrus notes, this approachable wine exhibits classical Sauvignon Blanc flavors and is their best-selling wine vintage after vintage.
Or try Brander’s Estate Grown 2017 Au Naturel. This Cuvee is their premium Sauvignon Blanc and their best expression of the varietal. Produced entirely from select blocks of grapes grown here on their estate, they hand harvest the fruit and leave the free-run juice in contact with the skins for up to 6 hours. To preserve the varietal character of the grape, they age the wine "Au Naturel" in stainless steel. This Cuvee undergoes five months of sur-lie aging prior to racking, resulting in the gorgeous mouthfeel, compelling minerality, and long-term age-ability for which this wine is renowned. Enjoy!
John David Finley is a free-lance writer and author of the cookbook, Sacred Meals from our Family Table, which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at email@example.com