Why is Mediterranean food a popular choice for businesses?
Mediterranean food is immensely popular in catering because it emphasizes fresh and delicious food that’s almost universally appealing. It’s hard to go wrong with classics like a crisp, perfectly dressed Greek salad or Tuscan style grilled chicken. Pizza? That’s Mediterranean too, making this cuisine as suitable for kids and finger food aficionados as it is for guests at a black tie gala.
One of the biggest perks about Mediterranean food is that it can easily be adapted for a wide variety of dietary needs. Whether you’re catering to a crowd of vegans or a couple of people have gluten allergies, you can easily accommodate special requests without sacrificing the flavor, texture, and color that make Mediterranean meals so tasty.
Do the different regions in the Mediterranean have different cuisines?
The Mediterranean consists of a number of regions, each with its own cuisine. Those regions share a lot of the same ingredients, such as olives and olive oil, cheese, seafood, tomatoes, legumes (like lentils and chickpeas), cheese, and yogurt, wine, and flavor packed herbs and spices (think garlic, fennel, oregano, basil, parsley, sage, and rosemary). But there are also some variations in ingredients and preparations that help differentiate Greek eats from Turkish recipes and Spanish tapas from Italian appetizers.
- Spain. Spanish tapas are ideal for passed apps, but there are also tons of main dishes that feature fun twists on recognizable ingredients. Try: watermelon gazpacho, shrimp and mussel paella, jamon, and Manchego croquetas
- Italy. Think of Italy and you think of pasta, but Italians also love fish, fruit, fresh vegetables, wine, and cured meats and cheeses. Try spaghetti with mussels and tomatoes, thin Neapolitan pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, butternut squash risotto with parmesan and truffles.
- France (Southern France, in particular). Food in Provencal is all about using what’s in season, dressing up fresh produce and seafood with olives, olive oil, herbs, and capers. Try bean and pasta soup with basil pistou, nicoise salad, and classic ratatouille.
- Greece. Greek food centers on heart healthy ingredients like lean meats, seafood, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Punchy herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano are paired with citrus juice and oils for mouthwatering dips and marinades. Try marinated feta cheese and olive skewers, stuffed grape leaves, and grilled octopus.
- Israel. There is a lot of grilling in traditional Israeli cooking, especially when there’s access to an open flame. Rotisserie cooked meats are also popular, and they taste great alongside grain salads and veggie rich stews. Try shawarma, falafel, and tabouleh.
- Egypt. Pita bread, cheese, poultry, vegetables, legumes, dates, and pasta are all present in Egyptian cuisine. Try lamb and okra stew with tomatoes, hawawshi (minced meat turnovers with hot chilies), and hamam mahshi (stuffed squab).
- Morocco. The combination of fragrant spices and fried fruit used in North African cuisine can make for a beautiful and memorable catering spread. Try stewed lamb with apricots, grilled fish with herbaceous chermoula, and chicken with preserved lemon and olives.
How much Mediterranean food should I order?
Because Mediterranean food includes such a variety of cuisines, there’s no set number of dishes you need to order. To cover your bases, try using this formula.
- For 10 people: Two appetizers or salads, two entrees, one dessert
- For 20 people: Three appetizers or salads, three or four entrees, two or three desserts
- For 50 people: Four to five appetizers or salads, four to five entrees, three to four desserts
Assume you’ll need about 1 pound of food per adult and a half pound per child, but again, this varies. It’s always good to have extra highly snackable and fairly filling items like hummus and pita and tomato and cucumber salad.
What role does olive oil play in Mediterranean food?
Olive oil is huge in the Mediterranean, especially in Greece, where citizens consume an average of 5.3 gallons of olive oil per person each year. It’s versatile and can be used for salad dressings, marinades, baking, and sautéing. This healthy oil goes hand in hand with garlic, another regional favorite, and you’ll often find Mediterranean dishes finished off with a drizzle of fruity EVOO (extra virgin olive oil).