Mediterranean Food Glossary

As you learn more about the Mediterranean diet and its associated components you may come across a few terms that are new. Below are some of the more popular terms and phrases you may come across.

Arborio Rice: [ar-BOR-ee-o] A short-grain rice whose starch helps turn risotto creamy.

Arugula: [ah-ROO-gah-lah] A salad green with a peppery, mustard flavor.

Baba Ghannouge: [ba-ba-gha-NOOJH] Roasted eggplant mixed with lemon juice, tahini, and spices. Sometimes served as a dip.

Bouillabaisse: [BWEE-ya-base] A traditional fish stew from France’s Provençe region, including fish, shellfish and vegetables such as leeks, potatoes, tomatoes and celery

Bruschetta: [brew-SKETT-a] An Italian dish made by topping toasted bread with olive oil and various accompaniments like tomatoes, basil, artichokes, garlic, eggplant and cheese.

Couscous: [COOS-coos] A grain-like food made by rolling flour and liquid between the fingers to create little balls. Couscous can be made from wheat or many other grains.

Dukkah: [DUE-kuh] A crumbly mixture of nuts, herbs and seeds. Bread can be dipped in olive oil and then in dukkah.

Falafel: [fuh-LAH-fel] A Middle Eastern dish made from ground chickpeas or fava beans and spices that have been shaped into patties and fried or baked.

Fattoush: [Fah-TOOSH] A Mediterranean salad made with tomatoes, vegetables, and torn-up pieces of bread.

Feta Cheese: [FEH-ta] A type of cheese, cured in brine, popular in Greece, Turkey, and throughout the Middle East.

Gazpacho: [gahz-PAH-cho] A cold tomato-based soup made with raw vegetables, originating in southern Spain.

Hummus/Hommos: [HUM-us] A thick paste made from chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice and garlic; served as a dip or spread.

Meze / Mezze: [MEZ-ay] An array of small dishes served as an appetizer or meal in many areas of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Moudammas: [MOO dah mess] Cooked fava beans; a popular dish in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Moujaddara: [moo-JUD-a-rah] A popular Arabic dish made of pureed lentils and spices.

Mousakka: [MOO-sah-kah] A famous eggplant casserole popularly made in the Middle East and Greece.

Paella: [pie-YAY-ya] A classic Spanish dish made with rice and seafood.

Pasta e Fagioli: [PAH-stah ay fah-JOE-lee] A traditional Italian soup with pasta, beans and vegetables.

Pesto: [PESS-toe] A paste made of greens, olive oil and other ingredients.Pesto made from basil and pine-nuts is also popular.

Pita: [PEA-tah] A flat pocket bread typical of the Middle East.

Ratatouille: [rah-tah-TWEE] Eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers, olive oil and herbs in a delightful stew.

Tagine: [tah-JHEEN] A slow-cooked North African stew, named after the conical clay pot in which it is cooked.

Tahini/Tahina: [tah-HEE-nee] A sesame seed paste used in several Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghannouge.

Tapenade: [tah-peh-NAHD] A thick Provençal spread most commonly made from puréed black olives, capers, and anchovies. Several other ingredients like roasted red peppers and artichokes can be used.

Tzatziki: [tsah-TSEEK-kee] A Greek and Turkish sauce made of yogurt and cucumbers, with olive oil, garlic, salt, and other optional ingredients such as mint or lemon juice.