mediterranean diet cookbook

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Amy Riolo. My Review

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook.

Congratulations to Amy Riolo for her beautiful New Book!

With her radiant healthy good looks, Amy looks like a walking billboard for the subject she has devoted her book to.

We grew up in Morocco, eating precisely the way Amy describes and prescribes in her book, the Mediterranean Diet:

We ate superfoods without even knowing it.

We were way ahead of the times! Prescient? No. Much better than that: Timeless! Consider Maimonides’s immortal line “Let nothing which can be treated by food be treated by any other means”. My mother liked to exhort us by declaiming it regularly. Oh yes, she knew her classics, and used them to great advantage.

Picture this: So many people in Mediterranean countries, eating perfect Mediterranean Diet foods without even knowing it, looking great and living nice long healthy lives  without ever mentioning the pesky D word. Contrast this wondrous fact with the Classic American Diet and the vast oceans of contradicting literature it has begotten: We eat wrong foods and we know it but we don’t stop, and we talk nonstop about dieting but are not getting an ounce lighter. Please: the low fat decade is when people gained the most weight. All we ever needed and need to do is eat healthy and delicious foods.

When was the last time you reported feeling great and losing weight by eating delicious food? 

You will now, I guarantee it, with a little help from Amy Riolo’s Mediterranean Diet Cookbook.

The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook share a rich and diverse cultural and culinary heritage.

The whole Mediterranean trail, from Italy to Egypt and everywhere in between, is the canvass she paints her delicious and inspirational Mediterranean Diet Cookbook on; it makes her a natural choice and a natural authority on the subject. Amy starts by tracing the steps in her life that made her adopt the Mediterranean Diet for keeps. And for good measure, she resolutely turns the sempiternal food pyramid on its head. Good riddance to the old inept model. Oh wait, even more than that: the wide sturdy base of her food pyramid is not even food: It is all about doing fun stuff, keeping active and yes… here comes the great secret: Eating together. That’s right: Eat something you love, with someone you love! Eating together at a home table, that staple of life that has devolved to a scarce commodity, these days often seems a fragile relic of a less harried not so distant past.  Just look around you: The advent of the information age has accomplished a lot, to be sure, but it has failed to attain its main stated goal, which was to save us time, time we would then use for togetherness: Nice try!

I love that Amy introduces many ingredients in her Mediterranean Diet Cookbook as foods that have been around since Antiquity. All you ever need to do is, hmmm, throw them in your pot, just like Amy does.  I hate to break it to you people on fickle food fads, you didn’t invent the Nutritional Wheel!

Here’s how Amy’s Mediterranean Diet Cookbook saves you time and calories,

even while you are feasting on her gorgeous dishes: She uses nothing but the best, freshest, most sizzling, most nutritionally correct, most economical, most sensible, most seasonal and most accessible ingredients. Not a single superfluous step or ingredient appears anywhere. Just one (one!) exception: Spanish Bravas-Style Potatoes, a multi-tiered multi-stepped multi-chaptered affair that at the end of the day (I mean it almost literally) yields …. what….. a potato dish in roasted tomato mayonnaise. Even a cook as down-to-earth as Amy is allowed some brief aberrant episodes when she can’t remember what she was smoking, and this dish is it, so I happily cut her the slack. Ignore the darn Bravas Potatoes and move right along!

Kudos to Amy for not caving in to all the hype about some ingredients that, we will never know how or why, were unjustly and mysteriously moved to the hit list: Good example: the humble potato. Thank you for taking potatoes out of the doghouse, and including them in glorious dishes like Borlotti Bean Soup and Potato with Kale. Likewise, her soups are quite simple and unfussy. I wish she would instruct the reader to use an immersion blender (instead of the hot-liquid-averse blender) to blend boiling soups, safely and reliably and in a jiffy.

A chapter succintly titled Olive Oil is a wonderful guide to all the different olive oils available, and a small treasure trove of tapas, and it even includes a cake with a dreamy name I just have to make soon: Sweet Olive Oil, Cherry and Almond Cake. The name alone makes my tongue smile.

The fish chapter is a model of beauty and simplicity.

Just in passing, I beg to differ with Amy, no matter what the pyramid says, that an adult portion of fish is 3 1/2 ounces: 100 grams. My twin toddler grandchildren eat 100 grams of fish for snack each. Come on: Let’s please make a fish portion 6 ounces, and we’ll be best of friends! I intend to make her Sicilian Swordfish Bundles, substituting the kosher sea bass for the kosher-verboten swordfish: A feast! Likewise, Amy includes a tuna steak marinated in Chermoula that is a bold and zippy departure from the sacro-saint black and blue seared tuna. Grapes make a frequent appearance in Amy’s cooking, and look glorious in Italian Halibut with Grapes and Olive Oil.

The dessert chapter in Amy’s Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is very brief, in keeping with desserts’ placement in the food pyramid.

The good news is, Amy’s desserts are dazzling.

Take a look at the Almond-Stuffed Figs in Chocolate Sauce. Not an added drop of sugar: The sweetness all  comes from the figs. The dessert is just them figs, almonds and dark chocolate: Talk about a menage a trois: Pure seduction! Raspberry Citrus Clafoutis, Italian Fruit Torte, Carrot Cardamom Torte: Whew!

Do yourself and your family a big flavor and get a copy of Amy’s Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: they will love you!

2 replies
  1. miriam
    miriam says:

    Hi Levana

    Is there any chance you can post the recipe for her chocolate dipped almond stuffed figs that you mention?
    I’m a huge fan of your cookbooks and many of your recipes have become favorites of ours!

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