This month, we sat down with Suzy Karadsheh, the blogger behind one of our favorite blogs, The Mediterranean Dish. Through her blog, Suzy shares her Mediterranean lifestyle with her readers by posting beautiful recipes and images of her favorite cuisine. We talked all things Mediterranean with Suzy in the interview below. Continue reading to see what she had to say, and make sure to check out her blog!
1. Growing up blocks away from Mediterranean Sea, you must have been exposed to some amazing cuisines. How does that influence your cooking now that you live in the United States?
I was born and raised in Port Said, Egypt. Port Said stretches 19 miles across the Mediterranean Sea; just short hours away from places like Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. It is also a strategic port, Egypt’s main gateway to the Red Sea and the Middle East. Growing up in such a vibrant part of the Mediterranean allowed me, from an early age, to develop culinary passions far beyond my hometown’s cuisine. The flavors of the Mediterranean are what feels the most familiar to me, so the meals I cook are very much Mediterranean-influenced. I can’t change that if I tried!
2. We love that all of your recipes have a heavy Mediterranean focus because studies show that a Mediterranean diet is linked to weight loss, low blood pressure and low cholesterol. Can you tell us the basic components of a Mediterranean dish?
You are absolutely right, a Mediterranean diet is a great one to follow for all types of health benefits. I prefer to think of it more as the Mediterranean lifestyle, only because the word “diet” naturally presents limitations, both on what you eat and how long you follow the diet. A Mediterranean lifestyle begins with a balanced diet that focuses more on grains; vegetables; dairy; proteins from nuts, seafood and lean meats, and far less on fatty meats. And yes, thank goodness, it allows a daily glass of wine! But it is also a lifestyle that emphasizes daily physical activity, and a balanced social calendar with frequent meals in the company of family and friends.
Put simply, I think of a Mediterranean dish simply as a well-balanced dish. There is grains, vegetables and either lean meat or fish; and hopefully, a glass of wine. A Mediterranean dish is colorful; cooked with in-season ingredients; sometimes indulgent, but mostly healthy.
3. Can you share some pantry staples for our readers who are new to Mediterranean cooking but want to start living your lifestyle?
Absolutely! I’ve shared a pantry list on my blog for those looking to start living a Mediterranean lifestyle. On my list, I share my most frequently used herbs, spices and other essential items for living a Mediterranean lifestyle.
4. What are some of your favorite Mediterranean-inspired ingredients to pair with pasta?
What doesn’t go with pasta? Pasta’s ability to “play well” with other ingredients is what makes it a popular dinner at my house. I love to add as many ingredients as I can to my pasta by whipping up something like a Minestrone soup that’s loaded with chickpeas, green beans, and diced tomatoes. That dish is very popular at my house, particularly when things cool off in the fall and winter months. But I also enjoy a simple and quick dish like this chicken and spaghetti dish, tossed with a light garlic-wine sauce with tomatoes and basil!
5. Here at Pasta Fits, we try to rely on herbs and spices rather than salt to flavor our pasta dishes. What are some of your favorite herbs and spices to use on pasta?
I am not afraid of garlic, and I think garlic and pasta are the perfect match! My favorite herbs to pair with pasta are fresh spearmint, parsley and basil. I love dried oregano and dried mint for a more intense flavor. Spices like black pepper, cayenne pepper and ground aleppo pepper (a Turkish spice) add nice heat. For lighter dishes, like summer pasta salads, I like to use citrusy condiments like fresh lime juice or lime zest to give a nice flavor.
6. Finally, all of the pasta recipes on your blog look amazing! Can you share one of your pasta recipes with our readers?
This Italian Sausage Minestrone I talked about in an earlier question is one of my favorites! Get the recipe here.
About Suzy & The Mediterranean Dish:
The Mediterranean Dish is a fast-growing food blog dedicated to celebrating flavors of the Mediterranean—from Europe to North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean (The Holy Land). The blog was started by Suzy Karadsheh, a self-taught cook and recipe developer who was born and raised on the shores of the Mediterranean in Egypt. Recently trading her career for the glamour of the stay-at-home life, Suzy ceased the opportunity to pursue her passion for cooking. Her childhood experiences, and later, her global travels, have influenced Suzy’s palate and continue to inform her culinary journey. She now lives and blogs from the Atlanta, Georgia area. Interested in following the Mediterranean lifestyle? See and follow Suzy’s mouthwatering recipes and authentic stories at http://www.themediterraneandish.com.