shakshouka shakshouka The best recipes of the year, Mediterranean-style. (Photo: Foodio / Shutterstock)

9 Mediterranean recipes we loved in 2015

From couscous to shakshouka to kebabs, the Israeli Kitchen whipped up some of the region's best dishes this year.

It was a banner year for food in 2015, and we at the Israeli Kitchen channel want to acknowledge a few highlights – dishes that celebrate the best of the Mediterranean diet. We know this diet counts millions of people around the world as fans, and it's no secret why: it's full of protein- and fiber-rich fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and olive oil, and it's been linked to a whole host of health benefits, from reduced risk of breast cancer to higher brain volume. Straight from the talented home cooks that comprise our Israeli Kitchen, here is a sampling of our favorite Mediterranean recipes of 2015.

Quinoa tabbouleh with mint tahini

Quinoa tabbuleh with mint tahiniThis tabbouleh made with quinoa is common in Israeli cafes. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

Tabbouleh's usually made with bulgur (cracked wheat), but Israeli Kitchen chef Miriam Kresh likes to use quinoa for a slightly more assertive flavor. And assertive is what you get with this recipe, which uses mint in an unconventional yet totally sensible way.


Phyllo squares stuffed with zucchini and feta

phyllo stuffed with zucchini and fetaA phyllo pastry is a delight to bite into, with that fabulous crisp, crackly, golden crust that yields to the luscious filling underneath. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

This savory phyllo recipe makes a surprisingly satisfying lunch, served with fresh vegetable sticks and hummus. It’s also a nice appetizer, cut into squares. And it's one of our favorite uses for zucchini.


Jerusalem artichoke soup

Jerusalem artichoke soupJerusalem artichoke soup (Photo: Dani Vincek/Shutterstock)

Interestingly, a Jerusalem artichoke is not from Jerusalem and it's not an artichoke. It is a flavorful, starchy root vegetable that makes a lovely soup. Here's a homemade version of the dish served at acclaimed Israeli restaurant Eucalyptus.


Persian rice from Shaya

Persian rice recipeAlon Shaya's Persian rice recipe is a favorite at his award-winning New Orleans restaurant. (Photo: Graham Blackall)

Thanks to James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya – whose eponymous modern Israeli restaurant in New Orleans was recently named America's best new restaurant by Esquire magazine – you don't have to eat out to enjoy this popular Persian rice dish with unique accoutrements and a zesty spice blend. Shaya himself gave us this recipe, and we invite you to give it a try.


Shakshouka

a traditional Mediterranean breakfast of eggs poached in tomato sauce and other vegetablesShakshouka – a traditional Mediterranean breakfast of eggs poached in tomato sauce and other vegetables – is best served with bread on the side for dipping. (Photo: NADKI/Shutterstock)

Shakshouka is one of those dishes that make breakfast worth waking up for. The aromas of simmering tomato sauce, the perfect blend of eggs, veggies and spices – it's no wonder we've brought you not one, not two, but four recipes for this popular Mediterranean dish on our site. Here's one you might think about whipping up for New Year's brunch.


Bulgur and freekah pilaf

Bulgar and freekah pilafSkip pasta next time in favor of this whole-grain dish. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

You might see these grains used to stuff vegetables like mushrooms or artichokes. But here, they're used in combination to create a hearty whole-grain dish complemented by dried cranberries and nuts for a welcome crunch.


Grilled vegetable kebabs

vegetable kebabsGrill these kebabs for your next gathering. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

These kebabs are perfect for the grilling crowd that's had its fill of fatty, heavy meats. But even for the fiercest carnivores among us, this vegetable kebab recipe is a welcome addition to the patio party spread, especially with a dash of Mediterranean za'atar.


Pumpkin couscous with browned sage butter

Pumpkin couscous holds its own as a main dishPumpkin couscous makes a great appetizer, side dish or meal. Round it out with a roasted lamb or keep it vegetarian by adding a leafy salad. (Photo: Anna Norris)

This recipe we featured this fall put a unique spin on Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous, which is a larger variety of the typically tiny pasta. Paired with a buttery sauce and flavorful pumpkin, it's a hearty dish that works well as an appetizer or a side dish as part of the most impressive of Mediterranean spreads.


Falafel waffle

A Belgian-style falafel waffle with merguez, yogurt, pickled onion and parsley.A Belgian-style falafel waffle with merguez, yogurt, pickled onion and parsley. (Photo: Arnold Gatilao/Flickr)

Did you know that every day is a holiday? No, really. There's National Hug a Dog Day, Short Girl Appreciation Day, Pi Day, Pie Day, National Pie Day, International Pie Day ... and our collective favorite, Waffle Day. In honor of the 2015 occurrence of this revered occasion, we discovered that you can make a waffle out of falafel – and it's absolutely delicious.

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