Check out these 50+ delicious plant-based Mediterranean diet recipes! From hearty lentil soup to moussaka, this list will inspire you to cook more Mediterranean right away!
Welcome to the delightful world of Mediterranean food!
Mediterranean food is very popular for its health benefits, but it's also one of the world's greatest cuisines. From Italian to Turkish, each coast of the Mediterranean offers a unique variety of flavors.
Below are 50+ fantastic Mediterranean diet recipes from all over the Med internet, along with tips to help you follow the diet.
What’s the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a general way of eating for people living in countries on the Mediterranean coastline. The diet features plant-forward dishes with fruits & vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and plenty of olive oil—complete with moderate amounts of red wine.
Meat is consumed rarely, usually in the form of seafood or poultry. Red meat is even more rare and is used to flavor dishes instead of being the focus. Often, dairy and eggs also take a back seat.
But why follow it? Well, the diet's copious health benefits range from reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases to improved cognitive function. No wonder why two out of the five Blue Zones where people live the longest, Sardinia and Ikaria, are located in the Mediterranean region!
How to Make Everyday Recipes More Mediterranean
- Substitute Meat with Beans & Lentils: With the right way of cooking, legumes can be made just as flavorful as most meat dishes. And they'll never make you feel as heavy!
- Incorporate More Plants: Always stock your kitchen with fresh or frozen vegetables and keep them very visible.
- Substitute Butter with Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is the what Mediterraneans reach for while cooking and even baking. For most antioxidant benefits, get the freshest olive oil possible (not sponsored).
- Focus on Whole Grains: Avoid flours and focus on intact whole grains like brown rice, oats, and bulgur.
- Avoid Processed Foods: Not all processed foods are created equal...think tofu vs. Oreos. Try to avoid ones with long ingredient lists & hard-to-pronounce components. Shopping along the perimeter instead of the isles of a grocery store is an effective trick to achieve this.
- Snack Smarter: The diet revolves around complete meals, but some people just love to snack. Like my grandpa, who carries walnuts in his pocket. We can all learn from this Mediterranean man.
- Substitute Sugar-Laden Desserts with Fruit: Mediterraneans often eschew desserts altogether and eat a big bowl of fruit instead. Though in our household, there's always room for baklava...
With all that said, the Mediterranean diet is more than just a diet. Think of it as a lifestyle, the everyday choices that make Mediterranean dwellers healthier than the rest of the Western world. Daily moderate exercise, leading less stressful lives, and social connectedness are the other pillars.
This can be a lot to take in at once. So I suggest focusing on one variable at a time. The list below is a great starting point! Just pick one recipe and head to the kitchen.
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Mediterranean Diet Breakfast Ideas
Vegan Shakshuka - Turkish Menemen
This vegan shakshuka recipe will make you look forward to Sunday brunch! Comforting and full of flavor with sauteed shishito peppers and onion, our elevated tofu scramble comes together within half an hour from start to finish.
Olive Oil & Maple Granola
This Food 52 recipe features granola made with olive oil! Substitute the maple syrup with date syrup for an even healthier version.
Mediterranean Eggplant Sandwich
This Mediterranean eggplant sandwich has generous layers of muhammara, fried eggplant, sauerkraut, and more! Perfect for on-the-go lunches and picnics. A few simple tricks will take this delicious sandwich to the next level!
Avocados aren't as popular in the Mediterranean, but there is always plenty of mushrooms to go around! Make this delicious toast by the NYT to get a heaping serving of vegetables first thing in the morning.
Berry Chia Jam
Still craving sweets? Learn how to make chia jam with any fruit—you can use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, or a combination of your favorites! This delicious alternative to store-bought jelly is much healthier and very easy to make.
Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Za'atar
Time to upgrade breakfast potatoes. Say hello to the crispiest roasted potatoes with a delicious homemade za'atar spice mix!
Have you heard of the benefits of saffron? This saffron oatmeal recipe is a delicious way to introduce the wonder spice to your palette. It is a staple in our weekly meal prep.
Spicy Potato Rolls - Turkish Pogaca
These fluffy potato rolls are perfect for breakfast or as a savory snack! Made with a spicy potato filling, you won't be able to stop after one. Substitute some of the flour with whole wheat to make it healthier.
Plant-Based Breakfast Burritos
Packed with plant protein and bright vegetables, we love making this burrito for breakfast!
Soups, Side Dishes, and Meze
Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
This hearty classic is full of protein thanks to red lentils. Completely plant-based, and gluten-free, lentil soup is perfect for cozy days. Ready in 45 minutes!
Mediterranean White Bean Soup
Another very easy-to-make soup filled with legumes and vegetables for cozy days.
Greek Lemon Rice Soup (Avgolemono)
We love this gorgeous soup that is packed with alliums and herbs.
Mushroom & Barley Soup
This hearty soup recipe is very satisfying thanks to the barley and smoky broth.
Tomato Basil Soup
This soup features fresh herbs like basil and thyme, as well as aromatics, sweet roasted carrots, and delicious spices to build up the flavor with simple ingredients.
Turkish Lentil Balls (Mercimek Köftesi)
Here's our family recipe for Turkish lentil balls —a delicious classic full of protein thanks to red lentils and bulgur! Vegan with a gluten-free option. Perfect as a snack or a main, and always a crowd-pleaser!
Muhammara - 10 Minute Spicy Red Pepper Dip
You will fall in love with this muhammara recipe that takes less than 10 minutes with minimal cleanup! Made in one bowl with a store-bought jar of roasted red bell peppers, healthy toasted walnuts, tangy pomegranate molasses, and delicious spices. This versatile muhammara dip is accidentally vegan and full of flavor!
Roasted Carrots with Tahini and Pomegranates
Super easy recipe for roasted carrots with tahini: less than 5 ingredients and under 5 minutes prep time!
Vegan Zucchini Fritters - Traditional Turkish Mücver
These vegan zucchini fritters are a great way to sneak in more veggies! A true Mediterranean treasure from my childhood, this plant-based version is easy to make and so delicious.
Artichoke Hearts Braised in Olive Oil
This artichoke hearts braised in olive oil recipe is a Turkish classic with tender artichokes, aromatics like peas, carrots, and potatoes, as well as delicious olive oil! The recipe comes straight from a famous artichoke restaurant from Izmir. This Turkish Zeytinyağlı enginar is vegan, gluten-free, and otherwise allergy-friendly.
Green Beans with Tomatoes - Turkish Taze Fasulye
Green beans with tomatoes recipe is an easy one-pot dish that is an Aegean classic! My favorite olive-oil dish. Takes less than 15 minutes to put together and will be ready within an hour. Accidentally vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly.
Vegan Fava Bean Puree with Dill
Try this Turkish vegan fava bean puree that sets to whichever shape you prefer! This creamy bean puree is also gluten-free & nut-free, with oil-free option.
Purslane Recipe with Rice & Tomatoes: Turkish Semizotu Pilaf
Bought purslane at the farmer's market on a whim or you think it's an annoying "weed" in your garden? Try this Turkish classic purslane recipe with rice and tomatoes! This is a budget-friendly family-favorite on its own as well as with plant-based yogurt on the side.
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Cinnamon and Pine Nuts - Turkish Dolma
Quintessential Turkish dolma: stuffed bell peppers with cinnamon and pine nuts! You will find this dish in almost every household in the region. Accidentally vegan & gluten-free. You can also use eggplants or zucchini instead of the bell peppers.
Roasted Beets with Labneh (Plant-Based)
Simple roasted beets with labneh recipe right from the heart of the Aegean! This appetizer is quick to make, easy to put together, and healthy. One of my favorite ways of eating beets hands down!
Mediterranean Vegetable Stew: Türlü
Mediterranean vegetable stew, türlü, is one of my favorite ways to use up all the random vegetables sitting in our fridge. Its translation from Turkish, “varied”, is quite self-descriptive and encourages you to do just that. This is yet another Mediterranean recipe that is vegan without any substitutions. Served cold or hot, türlü can comfort
Beet Tzatziki - Vegan, Easy, & Delicious
Teleport yourself to the Mediterranean with this delicious beet tzatziki! It is very easy to make and looks as delicious as it tastes. Step-by-step instruction video included.
Ful Mudammas (Egyptian Fava Beans)
Ful medames, or simply fūl, is a stew of fava beans served with olive oil, cumin, and herbs. Very high in protein and easy to make!
Turkish Roasted Eggplant Dip
Learn how to perfectly roast eggplants on the stove. Bonus family recipe for quick, 4-ingredient Turkish roasted eggplant dip: vegan, gluten-free, nut-free.
Kale Salad with Warm Dates & Pine Nuts
Try this Mediterranean kale salad for a tasty, healthy micronutrient bomb! Warm dates and toasted pine nuts set this salad apart.
Mediterranean Bean Salad (Turkish Piyaz in 10 Minutes!)
You will love this 10-minute Mediterranean bean salad recipe! An easy-to-make, refreshing bean salad, Turkish “piyaz” is all vegan and full of fresh herbs & vegetables. Perfect for busy days when you still want a healthy—yet delicious—meal!
Cucumber & Tomato Salad
A very easy and quintessential Mediterranean salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley in a zingy lemon dressing.
You may be surprised to find out that authentic tabouli has much more parsley than the popularized version served in the West. Go with curly parsley for best results.
Moussaka with Plant-Based Béchamel
This vegan moussaka is as close to the original as it gets with a classic nutmeg béchamel, cinnamony ragu, and perfectly baked slices of eggplant. Can be made gluten-free and allergen-friendly with substitutions.
Turkish Chickpea Wraps Recipe
This 100% authentic Turkish chickpea wrap recipe is accidentally vegan and only takes 15 minutes to make! Perfect for to-go lunches, picnics, or quick weeknight dinners.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Stuffed cabbage rolls recipe from Turkey! Vegan lahana dolma is a crowd-pleasing dish that is full of flavor and texture. Accidentally gluten-free with allergen-free options available.
Rice Stuffed Pumpkin: Turkish Balkabağı Dolması
The perfect blend of sweet & savory, these vegan Turkish rice stuffed pumpkins will make a stunning Thanksgiving centerpiece! Gluten-free, WFPB-friendly.
Dolma with Cranberries (Turkish Visneli Sarma)
Classic Turkish "yalanci" dolma is perfect for your Christmas table! My variation uses cranberries or tart cherries in place of lemons for acidity. You will love this classic vegan dolmas with cranberries recipe at any time of the year!
Garlic & Olive Oil Spaghetti
Aglio e olio is a simple yet delicious Italian pasta dish starring garlic, herbs, and olive oil. It really can't disappoint!
Spaghetti Marinara with "Meatballs"
This is a whole-food-plant-based take on the classic and is made without any oil! If you're concerned with using even olive oil for your meals, this is the recipe for you.
Socca is a thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flour. This version is full of herby chimichurri and topped with mushrooms.
Greek Orzo and Chickpeas
This combination of orzo pasta, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and healthy veggies comes together in 15 minutes and is made in one pan!
Sugar isn't really a part of the Mediterranean diet, but these plant-based desserts are completely fine in moderation.
Homemade Fruit Rollups with Walnuts - Turkish Pestil
Homemade fruit rollups with walnuts are the perfect mid-day snack! For this healthy, kid-friendly, two-ingredient recipe, you'll need only 30 minutes of active prep & cooking time.
The BEST Pumpkin Dessert: Turkish Kabak Tatlısı
Try Turkish pumpkin dessert—two ways, and a sugar-free alternative! The regular version is made only with pumpkins and sugar. Our favorite fall dessert!
Baklava - Authentic Turkish Recipe
Who doesn't love this Mediterranean/Middle Eastern treasure? Plant-based baklava is actually super simple to make with store-bought phyllo dough!
Turkish Burned Pudding (Kazandibi)
This Turkish burned pudding recipe shows you step-by-step how to make a vegan kazandibi dessert. Earthy caramel flavors from the flames take this to the next level! It is a dessert fit for sultans.
According to Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet is plant-based. Meals are built mostly around vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
The key word is "based", as most versions of the diet still incorporate non-plant-based items such as fish.
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines are not mutually exclusive! Especially when you consider how some Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon, border the Mediterranean. The food is indeed similar with much of the emphasis on beans and vegetables, however, Middle Eastern cuisine tends to include more meat.
Both cuisines are excellent for a vegan diet!
In the Mediterranean diet, meat is used mainly to flavor dishes instead of taking center stage. Research suggests that eschewing meat completely may be even more beneficial.
Any diet based mostly or completely on plants and limits processed foods is often very healthy. This is thanks to all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains provide.
We simply need more studies to determine whether a WFPB diet is healthier than a Mediterranean diet. However, so far the data favors avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs completely and choosing a whole-food-plant-based diet.
Red wine is the alcoholic drink of choice in the Mediterranean region. Red wine contains resveratrol, a potent polyphenol believed to reduce bad cholesterol.
But you don't need wine to get it, you could simply eat grapes themselves! If you choose the wine route, make sure not to overdo it and stick to one glass per day.
Was this Mediterranean diet guideline & recipe list helpful? Subscribe to our newsletter for a Mediterranean grocery list! Lastly, here's a healthy and easy-to-make chickpea & bulgur salad recipe that we make very often. Hope you enjoy!Print
50+ Fantastic Plant-Based Mediterranean Recipes: Mediterranean Bulgur Salad
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 Servings 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Here's a healthy and easy-to-make Mediterranean spicy chickpea & bulgur salad recipe that we make very often. Hope you enjoy!
- 1 can (250g drained, 1 ½ cups) cooked chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or regular chili flakes)
- ½ teaspoon Urfa (Isot) pepper (or regular chili flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) table salt
- 1 cup (180g) bulgur
- 2 cups hot water
- ½ teaspoon (3g) table salt
- ¼ large (75g) onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 6 (25g) shishito peppers, chopped (or sub w/ 1 green bell pepper)
- 1 medium (125g) tomato, chopped
- ½ bunch (50g) parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- flaky salt as needed
- If different, follow package instructions to make bulgur pilaf. I like to use the extra-coarse variety, but any type will do.
- Add bulgur, salt, and hot water into a pot on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and let simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the bulgur has absorbed almost all the water.
- Place a clean dish towel or paper towel on top of the pot to absorb excess moisture. Place the lid back on the pot and let the pilaf rest for about 15 minutes before assembling the salad. Make the spicy chickpeas as the bulgur is resting.
SAUTÉ THE CHICKPEAS
- Drain the canned chickpeas and save the aquafaba for baking projects if you wish. In a medium-sized pan, sauté the canned chickpeas with olive oil on medium-high heat.
- Mix in cumin, Aleppo pepper, Urfa pepper, and salt. Continue sautéing for 7-10 minutes, until the chickpea skins become crisp. Set aside.
MAKE THE ONION SALAD
- Meanwhile, massage sliced onions with sumac & lemon juice and set aside.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD
- To make the salad, place cooked bulgur, spicy chickpeas, sumac onion slices, shishito peppers, tomatoes, and parsley.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil & pomegranate molasses and toss. Season with salt as needed.
The tossed salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days.
You may substitute both the Aleppo and Urfa chile flakes with regular chile, but I'd highly recommend stocking them for later. These peppers are chef favorites for a reason!
If you don't have any pomegranate molasses, substitute with lemon juice for a similar level of acid.
To make this recipe gluten-free, use a different grain such as brown rice or quinoa.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Turkish, Salad, Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: Turkish
Keywords: chickpea salad, bulgur, sumac, onion, turkish
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