Here we want to answer the question: what is the Mediterranean diet food list. Basically, it is a list of very typical and traditional Mediterranean ingredients that are a must in your shopping list.
The Mediterranean diet is a well-known lifestyle that promotes healthy eating styles by consuming fresh and local products. Chosing the right ingredients for a Mediterranean diet shopping list is the key to eating fresh produce.
Discover the wide variety in the Mediterranean diet list of foods
Throughout this article, we discuss each food category and explain why each ingredient is important to a Mediterranean diet and how get started.
Vegetables: a whole world of vitamins
Some of the most popular and common vegetables to find in Spain include:
Tomatoes, broccoli, artichokes, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, kale, asparagus, pumpkin, mushroom, lettuce, and zucchini.
Pisto is clearly another classic and popular dish with summer vegetables typical from La Mancha. It is a Spanish dish of stewed vegetables home-cooked such as tomatoes, eggplants, onions, red and green peppers, and zucchini. All you have to do is to fry them slowly in extra virgin olive oil.
This recipe is more than 100 years old. It pays homage to the impossibility of refrigeration so during the harvest months of July and August people would make pisto and place the leftovers in a glass jar to preserve and eat throughout the year.
Here we can see how a combination of natural ingredients and an efficient way of cooking is a key point to the Mediterranean diet foods list.
Juicy fruits for all tastes
Fruits are an essential to the Mediterranean diet. Especially when people prefer to select an in-season fruit as dessert. Here are some of the fruits available: apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, pears, strawberries, quince, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, watermelon, cherries, pomegranate, pineapple, and avocado are some of the fruits in the Mediterranean diet shopping list.
Basically you can eat them as a dessert but also use them in cooking some dishes. We enjoy playing around with them and adding a sweet and fresh twist to salads, sauces, meats, fish, cheese, cakes… Even to sangria! Check our special recipe here.
Variety in nuts and seeds
These are a perfect pick me up in between meals or as a tapa. The Mediterranean diet includes a number of nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chestnuts, and pine nuts.
Just like fruits, nuts and seeds are delicious too and versatile. Indeed you can add them to so many dishes to make them healthier and tastier. Try paring them with cheeses, salads, meats, vegetables, desserts… or just as a heathy snack with wine!
Did you know that turron (nougat) and marzipan are made with almonds? You can read our article about marzipan from Toledo here.
Definitely it is one of the most famous flavors and is absolutely worth a taste! Or Better yet, you should take a day trip to Toledo from Madrid in order to fully experience the tasty flavors as you stroll down the narrow and historical streets of Toledo. We promise you won’t regret it!
Tarta de Santiago is a delicious cake traditional from Galicia made with almonds, sugar and eggs. Yes, you read that correctly! There is no need for flour. Lastly, a silhouette of the cross of Santiago de Compostela adorns the cake.
Energy legumes and pulses
The very basic ingredients to a perfect Mediterranean diet list are beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and chickpeas
Our grandmothers deserves a special mention here for their special stews recipes. Some of our most traditional dishes are: cocido madrileño, bean stew like the judiones with chorizo from Segovia, or the fabada asturiana.
Cereals that cannot be missing in the list of Mediterranean diet foods
The main cereals are wheat, rice, and corn. But also, rye, barley, and buckwheat are part of the Mediterranean diet list.
Bread is a staple food in the Mediterranean diet. A loaf of golden and crusty bread (known as pan in Spanish) is a must for every meal. Also used to make our wholesome sandwiches (we call them bocadillos and the most famous is the bocadillo de calamares). A slice of bread also makes the base to prepare any kind of tapa.
Bread, a humble ingredient but an authentic delight!
Try a piece of toast from an artisanal bread with just some olive oil. You can add crushed tomato paste and salt or Iberico ham (in Catalonia Pan tumaca).
Moreover, we never throw away the previous day’s bread. Mediterranean diets emphasize re-using leftover food to create delicious dishes such is the case with migas de pastor, breadcrumbs traditional eaten by shepherds, but now considered a delicacy that you can found in restaurants. This is also the case of torrijas a sweet like French toast make during Easter. You can also use the hard bread crumbs for the famous croquetas (and use the leftover meat from the cocido).
Breadsticks (we call them “picos”) are a cool paring with cheese or Iberico ham to share with family or friends. You can widely eat them especially in the South of Spain. They are made with extra-virgin olive oil, sesame seeds, wheat flour, and salt. A crunchy and fun bite!
Empanada, churros and paella, enjoy these delicious recipes!
The empanada gallega is a delicious Galician pie prepared with corn flour, scallops, and stir-fry of onions and peppers.
Churros are a very typical pastry in Spain that are accompanied with a cup of hot chocolate. You can read our article about this tasty treat here. Then our recommendation to visit the best place in Madrid here.
Fabulous fish and seafood in the Mediterranean diet list
Calamari, cod, squid, sardines, anchovies, trout, tuna, hake, monk fish, sole, mackerel, shrimp, prawns, oysters, clams, crabs, scallops, octopus, and mussels are all fabulous and healthy ingredients to include in the Mediterranean diet foods list.
Eating fresh fish is truly a delight
Obviously this is all made possible due to our geographical situation where we are surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Cantabria Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. This enables us to enjoy an awesome variety of fish and seafood that is worth a gastronomic trip.
Red tuna and sea anemones (ortiguillas) are a culinary treasure that you can find in Cadiz. But also, the shrimp (langostino) from Sanlúcar, a short drive away from Cadiz, deserves a visit.
Tortillitas de camarón is a common tapa from Cadiz made with chickpea flour and camarones (tiny prawns). They are thin and crunchy.
Pescaito frito (fried fish) is a mixture of local fish which is smooth battered with chickpea flour. The coating should be thin and crispy. You can find this dish anywhere in Andalucía.
The red prawn from Denia (gamba roja) is a delight that you will find in the Mediterranean coast but also you can enjoy there monkfish, tuna, sardines, and mussels.
The cold, clean, and wild sea of the Cantabria coast provide us with a huge variety of fish like sea bass, hake, anchovies, sardines, and tuna. Regarding the seafood, lobster, mussels, clams, and small crabs are some of the delicacies that are typical from here.
Anchovies from the Cantabria Sea are an exquisite hand-made delight
Among the most popular salted fish in the Spanish gastronomy are the anchovies from the Cantabria Sea . It is an exquisite culinary delicacy whose production is still handmade. Cantabrian anchovies are amazing paired with Manchego cheese and jam as a tapa or even just on a piece of toast.
White anchovies(boquerones en vinagre) instead, are anchovies marinated in vinegar which is a delicious and healthy tapa.
Galicia is a paradise for seafood and fish lovers. You can find squid, sardines, calamari, shrimp, oysters, lobsters, clam razors, spider crabs, barnacles, and scallops (whose shell is the iconic symbol for the Camino de Santiago for pilgrims). But the most famous delicacy would be the Galician octopus.
If you have the chance to travel to a seaside town in Spain, we highly recommend visiting a restaurant in the fishing neighborhood (barrio pesquero). Often, restaurants there are simple but cozy and you will be astonished by the simplicity of the fish dishes but the overwhelming flavor, freshness, and quality of the food.
And what about meat?
Some of the meat to include in the Mediterranean diet list are: pork, chicken, beef, lamb, bull, rabbit, and quail.
Iberico ham is a delicacy only produced in Spain from Iberico pigs that graze outdoors in the dehesa (acorn fed in tree forests). Apart from ham, there is a full range of traditional charcuterie like chorizo, salchichon, and lomo that are simply delicious as a tapa as well as the Catalan butifarra, fuet or sobrasada.
Sobrasada is a traditional raw cured sausage from the Balearic Islands in Spain, specifically Mallorca. It’s a unique type of charcuterie that’s known for its soft and spreadable texture, unlike most other sausages which are typically firm.
Spain offers a great variety of climate and pastures allowing there to be a variety of meats that are packed with great taste. Many villages provide roasted meats like the suckling pig (Cochinillo de Segovia) or suckling lamb which is traditional from Castilla Leon. Mostly northern villages are very heavy on meats so if you are a meat lover you must visit these villages to see the food that they have to offer.
Spain offers all kinds of cow, sheep, and goat cheeses, yogurt, and milk.
Due to its climate, soil and vegetation throughout the country, Spain provides a rich and wide variety of great cheeses you can enjoy with stunning cheese boards to surprise your guests.
As we know it may seem a little overwhelming with so many varieties, we have written a useful guide to navigate the different categories of Spanish cheeses.
The importance of eggs in the Mediterranean diet list
Chicken and quail eggs are the main egg types to include in the Mediterranean diet shopping list. Eggs are an important and highly recommended food in our Mediterranean Diet. It is a very humble but versatile ingredient. It’s even the star ingredient in the Spanish tortilla, but you can also find it in many other famous recipes.
Healthy fats for everyone
The list of Mediterranean diet fat is short because it consists of extra virgin olive oil. This one is the corner-stone ingredient in the Mediterranean diet with amazing health benefits. You can read our article here. We rarely have the need for other fats. This healthy fat really is savory and pairs nicely with just about anything.
Don’t miss herbs and spices!
Garlic, smoked paprika, basil, rosemary, saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, anis, oregano, cumin, thyme, and fennel are the most popular herbs and spices to find in a Mediterranean kitchen.
They are a healthy and easy way to enhance the flavor of the natural and non-processed foods. Don’t forget to add aromatic herbs that grow wildly on the Mediterranean lands.
One of the secrets for making a tasty Mediterranean dish is the sofrito. The most common version consists of chopped garlic and onion slowly fried in extra-virgin olive oil.
Sofrito is used as a starting base for cooking many homemade dishes. In the same way you can find paella, any traditional stews like cocido madrileño, fabada and also albondigas (meatballs), or even the filling for the Galician empanada.
Smoked paprika is a very special ingredient. This one is used to cook the Galician octopus and one of the main ingredients in chorizo. But you can also find it in many delicious traditional Spanish dishes. You can read the beautiful story about it here.
In this way we can’t miss saffron, which it is prized for its unique aroma, its vibrant color and its unmistakable flavor in Spanish dishes.
There is always room for delicious sweets
Arroz con leche, or “rice with milk”, is a traditional dessert in Spanish cuisine. It’s similar to rice pudding, which is found in many cultures around the world. The basic ingredients include white rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon or lime zest. Some variations may include additional ingredients like vanilla, raisins, or other spices like saffron.
The result is a sweet, creamy, and comforting dessert that’s often served chilled, but it can also be enjoyed warm. The balance of creaminess, sweetness, and the fragrant hint of citrus and cinnamon make arroz con leche a favorite dessert in Spain.
The ensaimada is a pastry product from Mallorca, Spain. It is a part of the Balearic Islands‘ rich culinary tradition, and it’s recognized as a symbol of their identity. The name “ensaimada” comes from the Catalan word “saim,” which means ‘lard,’ a key ingredient in the original recipe.
Is the pride and joy component to the list of Mediterranean diet sweets.
Indeed it is made from the nectar of aromatic herbs as rosemary, thyme and lavender. They grow wildly in the countryside and found in the center of Spain. But there are other types like eucalyptus and forest honey from the Northern parts of Spain.
Furthermore this natural sweetener is used in cooking traditional desserts. Turrón, pestiños, a fried pastry with cinnamon, bizcochos borrachos, a cake soaked in honey and wine, or the well-known torrijas fried bread soaked in milk and honey.
Have you already tasted all the delicious Mediterranean diet list of foods?
If you have tried many of the foods above, we suggest that you experiment a little more in the kitchen. Because, as we mentioned before, the Mediterranean diet is all about finding unique combinations of foods. In order to create more creative dishes and play around with flavors.