Welcome to our Mediterranean ingredients glossary! If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued by the unique ingredients listed on our menu, this is your guide. Here, we unravel the mysteries of Mediterranean cuisine, providing detailed insights into the flavors that make our dishes so delightful. So, whether you’re a food connoisseur or a curious diner, explore our glossary to discover more about the rich, vibrant ingredients that are integral to our culinary journey at Gallio.
Originates from Spain, France, and Italy. This traditional sauce is a delicate blend of garlic and olive oil. However, to achieve its signature texture, it’s often prepared using a mortar and pestle. In some regions, chefs introduce additional ingredients such as, egg yolks or lemon juice are common additions, furthermore contributing to a creamier, richer aioli. It’s served in various ways across the Mediterranean. For example, You’ll find aioli as a dip accompanying fresh vegetables and bread. It also shines as a condiment, enhancing the flavours of fish and meats. With its robust garlic kick and smooth consistency, aioli is a versatile staple, adored in many Mediterranean dishes.
Aleppo peppers, hailing from Syria’s city of Aleppo, hold a special place in Mediterranean cuisine. They belong to the Capsicum annuum family, revered for their unique flavour and mild heat. However, unlike most chilli flakes, they present a distinctive blend of tanginess with a slight fruity undertone. These peppers undergo a sun-drying process, after which they’re ground and mixed with salt and oil. The resulting deep red, mild chilli flakes serve as a flavour enhancer in an array of dishes, imparting a unique warmth and depth. For those delving into Mediterranean recipes or seeking an authentic twist in their meals, Aleppo peppers are a prime pick. Their complex taste can elevate your culinary creations, making them a staple in any Mediterranean spice rack.
Ancient grains hold a coveted spot in Mediterranean cuisine. They’re prized for their nutritional prowess and robust, hearty flavours. Unlike modern processed grains, these remain largely unchanged over centuries, offering a wholesome, unrefined alternative. Among them, you’ll find spelt, barley, and millet. Pseudo-cereals like quinoa and buckwheat also join the list. These grains play versatile roles in the kitchen, starring in salads, sides, or as the main event in traditional dishes. Their unique flavour and texture bring an unmatched depth to meals. Choosing ancient grains isn’t just a culinary decision. It’s a nod to the rich traditions of the Mediterranean and a step toward a healthier, balanced diet. Dive into the world of ancient grains, and let the heart of Mediterranean cuisine pulsate in your kitchen.
Buffalo mozzarella is a type of fresh Italian cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes, primarily found in the Campania and Lazio regions of Italy. It is known for its creamy, soft, and slightly elastic texture and has a delicate, milky flavour. Buffalo mozzarella is often used in traditional Italian dishes such as Caprese salad, where it’s paired with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. It’s also a popular choice for pizza toppings and various other Italian recipes. The use of buffalo milk in its production gives this cheese its distinctive taste and texture.
Ezme refers to a type of salad or dip made from very finely chopped or mashed vegetables, particularly tomatoes and peppers, mixed with spices and herbs. The word “Ezme” in Turkish means “mashed”, which describes the consistency of this dish.
Falafel, a signature dish in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, is a flavourful deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, mixed with fresh herbs and spices. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, and it continues to be a beloved street food and a staple in many households across the region. This versatile dish can be enjoyed on its own, served in a pita with salad and tahini sauce, or used as an ingredient in a variety of creative recipes. With its rich taste, satisfying texture, and high protein content, falafel represents the heart of Mediterranean cuisine – wholesome, delicious, and deeply rooted in tradition. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or a culinary novice, discovering falafel is a journey into the vibrant flavours of the Mediterranean.
Farro is a highly nutritious ancient grain that has been a staple in diets for thousands of years. Known for its rich, nutty flavor and chewy texture, it’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and certain B vitamins.
Farro encompasses three species of hulled wheat: spelt, emmer, and einkorn. It’s often used as a healthier alternative to refined grains and can be substituted for other grains in a variety of recipes. Whether it’s served as a side dish, incorporated into salads, or used in soups and stews, farro brings a unique taste and a host of nutritional benefits to the table.
This whole grain wheat is slightly larger and more oblong than barley, adding a delightful crunch to dishes. Its versatility and health benefits make it an excellent addition to any pantry, particularly for those wanting to explore ancient grains.
Feta is a traditional Greek cheese that’s cherished for its tangy, salty flavour and crumbly texture. It’s made primarily from sheep’s milk, or a blend of sheep’s and goat’s milk, and is a key component in many Mediterranean dishes.
The cheese is white, often produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It’s typically aged in brine, which contributes to its characteristic flavour and also helps preserve it. Feta can range from soft to semi-hard, with the taste becoming sharper and saltier with age.
Feta is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. It’s often used in salads, like the classic Greek salad, crumbled over dishes for an added burst of flavour, or baked into savoury pastries. Its unique taste and texture make feta a beloved cheese worldwide.
Flatbread is a type of unleavened bread that is characterised by its flat, thin, and often round shape. It is made from simple ingredients such as flour, water, and sometimes salt, without the use of yeast or other leavening agents, which results in a flat and dense texture. Flatbreads are cooked quickly, often on a griddle, in an oven, or directly over an open flame.
In the context of Persians, flatbreads are an integral part of their cuisine and culture. Persian flatbreads, such as “naan” or “lavash,” are widely enjoyed and play a significant role in Persian meals. These breads can vary in size, thickness, and ingredients used but are typically thin and serve as a versatile accompaniment to various dishes, such as kebabs, stews, and dips. Persian flatbreads are known for their soft and slightly chewy texture, making them a staple in Persian cuisine for centuries.
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese that originated from Cyprus. It’s made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk, and sometimes cow’s milk as well. Halloumi is known for its distinctive squeaky texture when bitten into.
This cheese has a slightly spongy texture and briny flavour, which can range from tangy to salty. It is typically unripened and does not have a rind. What sets halloumi apart is its high melting point, which allows it to be grilled or pan-fried without losing its shape.
Whether used in salads, sandwiches, or grilled as a vegetarian substitute for meat, halloumi brings a unique taste and texture to a variety of dishes. Its savoury flavour and firm texture make it a popular choice in many cuisines around the world.
Harissa is a vibrant, fiery condiment originating from the Maghreb region in North Africa, particularly Tunisia. It’s primarily composed of hot chilli peppers, which can range from mild to very spicy. These chilies are rehydrated and blended with olive oil, creating a paste-like consistency.
The flavour profile of harissa is further enriched by adding various herbs and spices such as coriander, caraway, and cumin. Some variations might also include garlic, lemon, or smoked paprika, contributing to the depth and complexity of its taste.
Harissa can be used as a sauce, a marinade, or a spice in cooking, adding a burst of heat and a touch of exotic flavour to a variety of dishes. From stews and soups to grilled meats and vegetables, this versatile condiment enhances the dish with its distinct spicy and aromatic characteristics.
Heritage tomatoes, also known as heirloom tomatoes, are a type of tomato variety that has been passed down through generations due to their unique characteristics, flavours, and historical significance. Unlike commercially bred tomatoes, heritage tomatoes are open-pollinated, meaning they are naturally pollinated by wind, insects, or other natural means, and their seeds can be saved and replanted year after year. These tomatoes come in a wide range of colours, shapes, and sizes, and they are prized for their diverse and often intense flavours, which can vary from sweet and fruity to tangy and complex. Heritage tomatoes are popular among gardeners and chefs for their exceptional taste and vibrant, old-fashioned qualities.
Loukoumades, also known as Greek honey puffs or doughnut holes, are a popular Greek dessert. They are small, round balls of deep-fried dough, similar to doughnut holes, that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. After frying, they are typically drizzled with honey and sprinkled with toppings like cinnamon and chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, to add sweetness and texture. Loukoumades are a delightful treat, often served at festivals and celebrations in Greece, and they are enjoyed for their sweet, sticky, and indulgent flavour.
Merguez sausage is a highly seasoned and spicy sausage originating from North African cuisine, particularly countries like Morocco and Tunisia. It is typically made from ground lamb or beef, mixed with a blend of aromatic spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, and chili peppers. The mixture is then stuffed into a casing and grilled or pan-fried to create a flavorful and slightly spicy sausage with a distinct red color. Merguez sausages are known for their bold, spicy, and robust flavor profile and are often served with bread, couscous, or in sandwiches, adding a fiery kick to various dishes.
Nduja is a spicy, spreadable Italian sausage that hails from the Calabria region in Southern Italy. It is made by mixing finely ground pork, Calabrian chili peppers, and various spices. The resulting mixture is then cured and fermented, which gives nduja its characteristic soft and spreadable texture. Nduja is known for its intense heat and bold, savoury flavour, and it is often used as a condiment or ingredient in pasta sauces, pizza toppings, and various other dishes to add a fiery kick and rich, smoky notes.
Kofte is a popular dish in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Turkey. It refers to balls or patties made from ground meat, often beef or lamb, that are mixed with onions, herbs, and spices. The mixture is then shaped into cylinders or balls and cooked. Kofta can be grilled, fried, steamed, or baked, and it’s often served with rice, salad, or inside a bread roll. Each region has its own variation of kofta, making it a diverse and beloved staple across the Mediterranean.
Piquillo peppers are a type of chilli pepper native to Northern Spain. They are known for their sweet yet mildly spicy flavour and smoky undertones. These peppers possess a unique triangular shape, earning them the name “piquillo”, which translates to “little beak” in Spanish.
Their vibrant red colour and thick walls make them perfect for roasting and stuffing. Piquillo peppers are often hand-harvested and then roasted, peeled, and preserved in jars to enhance their sweet and tangy taste. Their heat level is quite mild, ranging from 500-1,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.
In terms of texture, piquillo peppers offer a firm, velvety feel that adds an interesting dimension to various dishes. They are popular ingredients in Spanish cuisine, adding a bright, flavourful touch to meals.
Scallops are a type of shellfish that are widely consumed in many cuisines around the world. They are known for their distinctive fan-shaped shells, which are often discarded, and their tender, white, and slightly sweet flesh. Scallops can be prepared in various ways, including searing, grilling, baking, or frying, and are commonly served as a seafood delicacy. Their mild and delicate flavour makes them versatile and suitable for a wide range of dishes, from appetisers to main courses.
Shakshuka is a flavourful and hearty North African and Middle Eastern dish that features poached eggs in a spiced tomato and pepper sauce, often seasoned with ingredients like garlic, onions, cumin, and paprika. It is typically cooked in a skillet or pan and can include various additional ingredients such as bell peppers, chili peppers, and herbs like cilantro or parsley. Shakshuka is known for its rich, savoury, and slightly spicy taste and is often served with crusty bread for dipping. It is a popular breakfast or brunch dish but can also be enjoyed as a satisfying meal at any time of the day.
Sumac is a widely used spice in Mediterranean cuisine, derived from the berries of a bush that grows naturally in all Mediterranean areas. The berries are dried and crushed to form a coarse, vibrant purple-red powder. Sumac imparts a tangy, slightly tart flavor to dishes, reminiscent of lemon. It’s used to season and brighten everything from grilled meats, fish, to salads and sauces.
Tahini is a smooth, creamy paste made primarily from ground sesame seeds. It’s a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. The sesame seeds used in tahini can be raw or toasted, with the latter giving the paste a deeper flavour profile.
The texture of tahini is similar to that of peanut butter but its taste is quite unique. It has a nutty flavour with a slight bitterness and a hint of sweetness. The consistency can vary from thick and spreadable to thin and pourable depending on the brand and specific recipe.
Tahini serves as an essential ingredient in dishes like hummus and baba ganoush. It’s also often used in dressings, sauces, and dips, or drizzled over vegetables, meats, and breads. Despite its simple composition, tahini adds a complex, rich flavour to a variety of dishes.
Turkish eggs, also known as “Çılbır” in Turkish cuisine, are a traditional breakfast or brunch dish that typically consists of poached eggs served atop a bed of yogurt mixed with garlic and dill. The dish is often drizzled with a spiced butter sauce, which may include ingredients like red pepper flakes and paprika, to add flavor and a hint of spice. It is commonly garnished with fresh herbs, such as parsley or mint, and sometimes served with bread for dipping. Turkish eggs are known for their creamy, tangy, and savoury flavour profile and are a popular choice for a hearty morning meal in Turkey and beyond.
Za’atar is a flavourful Middle Eastern and Mediterranean spice blend. It typically includes the za’atar herb, which belongs to the family that includes thyme, oregano, and marjoram. Toasted sesame seeds and dried sumac also feature prominently in the mix, bringing nutty and tangy flavours, respectively. Some za’atar blends may include additional spices as well.
The flavour profile of za’atar is earthy, nutty, and slightly citrusy, adding depth and complexity to a variety of dishes. People commonly mix it with olive oil and spread it on bread, sprinkle it onto vegetables, or use it as a seasoning for meats. The exact composition of za’atar can vary by region and personal preference, reflecting the diverse culinary traditions of the areas where it’s used.