Mediterranean Diet Pyramid


Join me in some summer travels; let’s take a trip to the Mediterranean… in our kitchens here at home.

Over and over again we hear about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet but let’s remember it’s not only healthy it’s also divinely scrumptious.  Have you taken a look at their food guide pyramid lately; have you seen the explosion of colors, the variety of foods? How could you say NO to foods like tasty grains, an assortment of fruits and vegetables, olives, olive oil, legumes, beans and nuts, seeds and lots and lots of herbs?  All of these wonderful foods are the basis of their diet.  Don’t forget to include fish and seafood at least twice a week for your omega-3 fatty acids. Include eggs, yogurt and cheese; YES I did say cheese in moderation.  Meats and sweets are eaten in small amounts but savored.  Water makes its way into to the pyramid to remind you to hydrate.  Often, in moderation enjoy to its fullest a good glass of red wine.   Lastly, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid ties it all together by encouraging physical activity including dancing, walking, sports and leisure movement.  Let me point out that following the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid IS a lifestyle NOT a diet; the best way to know this…it encourages meals and physical activity to be enjoyed and savored among family and friends.  I love this; it’s well-being at its finest.

Unsure where to start?  Next time you are at the grocery store pick up a few items to create Halibut in Crazy Water (Pesce in Acqua pazza) and enjoy your trip to the Mediterranean!

Halibut in Crazy Water (Pesce in Acqua Pazza)

Serves 4

From the region of Campania and a classic of Neapolitan cooking, this recipe is all about a great piece of fish cooked in a wonderfully simple way. Since the list is short, using great ingredients is paramount. At the beginning of the cooking, everything in the pan is fairly dry, but by the time the fish is cooked, there will be a simmering bath of acqua pazza—crazy water! This is a perfect way to cook halibut and other flaky fish such as snapper, grouper, or bass. Use vine-ripened tomatoes that aren’t too soft. And by rinsing off the capers, you’ll get seasoning from the capers, not the flavor of the brine. Serve with roasted or steamed potatoes.

Four 6-oz pieces skinless halibut fillet
Fine sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for drizzling
11/4 lbs ripe, firm tomatoes, seeded and cut into 3/8-inch dices (about 2 cups)
11/2 T finely chopped Italian parsley
1 T drained capers, rinsed and finely minced

1. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly crush the garlic cloves and put them in a sauté pan. (The pan should be large enough to hold all the fish and some of the tomatoes in between in a single layer.)

2. Add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, gently shake and tilt the pan so the cloves are immersed and sizzling at one side of the pan in a pool of the oil. As the cloves start to turn golden, lay the pan flat on the burner so the oil covers the entire surface.

3. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Tilt the pan so you can spoon some of the garlic oil over the exposed side of the fish. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and parsley, evenly distributing them over the entire surface of the fish and in between the fillets. Cover and lower the heat so the pan juices come to a slow, even boil. Add the capers 2 to 3 minutes later so their flavor won’t overpower the rest of the dish. Continue to simmer until the fish is opaque and slightly firm, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Transfer the fish with a thin slotted spatula to warm plates or a serving platter. Using a perforated spoon, place the tomatoes over the fish, then with a regular spoon, place some of the residual “crazy water” in the pan over the fish and enough on the dish or platter to serve it in a shallow pool. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve subito (immediately)!

Nutritional Analysis per Serving
Calories: 278; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 54 mg; Protein: 37 g; Sodium: 169 mg; Fiber: 2 g; Sat Fat: 2 g

Recipe courtesy of Chef David Shalleck, adapted from the book Mediterranean Summer (Retrieved from Today’s Dietitian; May 2012)

Written by Kathleen Rodas, Dietitan



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