Recipes Photo Credit: Clinton Hussey; Food Styling: Jennifer Stamper; Prop Styling: Nicole Sjöstedt

5 Healthy Mediterranean Dishes That Take Old-World Fare to the Next Level

Put the spanokopita down: it’s time for the seaside cuisine to get a modern makeover.

This is Med, made for now: that means ditching the ol’ souvlaki-and-potatoes standards for simple, fresh ingredients that elevate old-world dishes into flavourful, healthful (and beautiful) new favourites.

Crispy Sardines with Salmoriglio

Small, oily fish are a Mediterranean staple; if you want to tame their fishiness, brine fresh fish in a ratio of 1 part coarse salt, 2 parts sugar and 4 parts water for an hour or up to 24 hours, then drain and pat dry. Salmoriglio is a lemony sauce that can have the texture of a vinaigrette or something thicker, like hollandaise, and is perfect for dipping or drizzling.

New-School Orzo Salad

Orzo salad travels well, and makes a great side or substantial lunch or dinner topped with leftover fish, grilled chicken or jammy soft-boiled eggs. Romanesco is a member of the brassica family; it looks like pale green cauliflower covered with pointy Christmas trees. If you’re a fan of fresh mint, add some along with the spinach.

Roasted Eggplant with Lentils, Goat Cheese and Romesco

Eggplant is delicious with the added smokiness a hot oven or grill imparts; it can be grilled in halves or slices, topped with simmered and marinated lentils and garlicky romesco.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Minty Pea Purée

Rich braised lamb shanks get a lift from green peas and fresh mint.

Om Ali

Om (or um) Ali is a dessert often compared to bread pudding, but is far more interesting and complex—made with broken baked puff pastry, it’s soft and creamy in the middle, almost like rice pudding, with chewy edges and crunchy bits of pastry, coconut and nuts.

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