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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Going Mad for Mediterranean!

My son is an odd duck when it comes to his food preferences. He loves vegan bratwursts but won’t touch simple macaroni and cheese. He can eat the hottest wings on the menu, but I still can’t convince him to try one carrot. When you have a selective eater in the house, coming up with meals can be a challenge. And when you’re limited on time, serving those picky eaters can be even harder! Luckily, there is one type of cuisine that my son absolutely loves, and thankfully, so do I! We all adore Mediterranean cuisine here. Luckily, it’s recommended as one of the healthiest cuisines, being high in “good” fats, legumes and antioxidants, while being low in red meat, sugar and processed items.

One of the easiest ways to offer a no-hassle, yummy, inexpensive and approachable Mediterranean meal that hopefully even your pickiest of eaters will try is to serve up a giant, shareable plate of show-stopping yet easy staples. In my household, we call it a “Greek spread,” which starts with hummus spread onto a large plate and topped with tasty Mediterranean ingredients such as Kalamata olives and feta cheese. The best part is serving some grilled pita wedges to scoop everything onto, almost like one gigantic “chip and dip” spread, but for dinner! Serving meals this way, whether Mediterranean or not, is a wonderful strategy for giving picky eaters a chance to feel authority over what they eat and potentially try some new things. Serving “new” or “different” items can be a little more approachable if paired with a “safe” vehicle, like the pita bread. Offering different food to share rather than traditionally putting food on everyone’s plates takes the onus and pressure off you and onto the eater to select what they’d like, making for a more relaxed atmosphere all around.

When I serve our “Greek spread” for dinner, my son gobbles up most things on the plate, and there is never a drop left between us. It only takes a few moments to put together, and it is healthy and delicious. I call that a win!

 

Debra’s “Greek Hummus Spread”

  • 1 store-bought container of hummus of your choice
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon pepperoncini, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 package pita bread
  • approximately 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

 

 

  • On your largest serving platter, spread hummus evenly. Layer lettuce on top. Toss tomato, cucumber, onion, and olives with the vinegar and oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Arrange atop lettuce. Top with pepperoncini. Sprinkle with feta.
  • Heat skillet on high. Spread a bit of the butter on one side of pita, charring slightly; repeat on other side. Cut into wedges and serve with spread.
Debra Caffrey
Debra Caffrey
Debra Caffrey is the writer/editor of the Education and Infant & Pregnancy e-newsletters for Fredericksburg Parent and Family. She also writes the monthly Practical Pantry column, sharing her recipes and tips on being a home cook, grocery shopping, and smart meal planning. Debra is the proud mother of an almost-teenage son. When she's not writing, cooking, or parenting, Debra enjoys working out, yoga, running, hiking, traveling, and reading.

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