Mediterranean Grains and Greens: A Book of Healthy Mediterranean Recipes


Paula Wolfert is passionate about the Mediterranean — its landscape, its people, its culture, and above all, its rich culinary tradition. Her five earlier cookbooks celebrated the sensuous pleasures of the Mediterranean kitchen and introduced a previously uninitiated American audience to an exciting new way of cooking and eating.

In her eagerly awaited Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Wolfert continues that tradition, focusing on the delectable grains and greens-based dishes she...

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New York 1998 Hard Cover 1st. US Ed. New in New jacket "Paula Wolfert is passionate about the Mediterranean--its landscape, its people, its culture, and above all, its rich ... culinary tradition. Her five earlier cookbooks celebrated the sensuous pleasures of the Mediterranean kitchen and introduced a previously uninitiated American audience to an exciting new way of cooking and eating. In her eagerly awaited Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Wolfert continues that tradition, focusing on the delectable grains and greens-based dishes she discovered as she spent five years traversing the Mediterranean region, from Spain in the west toIsrael, Lebanon, and Syria in the east, with stops in France, Italy, Turkey, and Greece. 368p. bibliography. index. Read more Show Less

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Paula Wolfert is passionate about the Mediterranean — its landscape, its people, its culture, and above all, its rich culinary tradition. Her five earlier cookbooks celebrated the sensuous pleasures of the Mediterranean kitchen and introduced a previously uninitiated American audience to an exciting new way of cooking and eating.

In her eagerly awaited Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Wolfert continues that tradition, focusing on the delectable grains and greens-based dishes she discovered as she spent five years traversing the Mediterranean region, from Spain in the west toIsrael, Lebanon, and Syria in the east, with stops in France, Italy, Turkey, and Greece.

Here are bountiful breads (Mirsini's Spiced Barley Bread); mouthwatering pastries (Spicy Beef, Olives, and Capers in Semolina Pastry Turnovers); nourishing comfort soups (Garlic Soup with Leafy Greens); crisp salads of mixed greens, cooked green salads, and savory grain salads (Samira's Tabbouleh with Parsley, Bulgur, Cinnamon, and Cumin); unusual desserts (Tunisian Homemade Couscous with Golden Raisins); and accompanying sauces, condiments, and seasonings. Though Mediterranean Grains and Greens is not a vegetarian cookbook, meat, fish, and poultry, when they appear, are used primarily as condiments and flavor enhancers rather than the main focus of a meal.

Throughout, Wolfert explains the historical and cultural significance of her dishes, sharing traditional preparation techniques as well as her adaptations for the American home kitchen. Ever conscious of the availability of ingredients in this country, she recommends readily available alternatives found in grocery stores and farmer's markets. Whether foraging for wild "apron greens" in the Turkish countryside, "listening" to risotto in Venice to tell if it's ready to eat, making homemade rustic pasta on the island of Crete, baking Sardinian flatbread the old-fashioned way, scrambling eggs with kofte along the Euphrates, or preparing the unusual "black paellas" of Valencia, Paula Wolfert shares her adventures in the engaging first-person stories that accompany each recipe. This comprehensive collection invites Paula Wolfert's loyal fans and followers to rediscover the joys of Mediterranean living, cooking, and eating right along with her. Like her earlier works, the enticing, wide-ranging Mediterranean Grains and Greens is destined to become a kitchen classic, a book that every serious cook, armchair traveler, and lover of good food will want to own.

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Editorial Reviews

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A Cooking Class with Paula Wolfert

Famed cookbook author Paula Wolfert first opened our eyes to the culinary pleasures of the Mediterranean more than 20 years ago with her very first book on the cooking of Morocco. That groundbreaking cookbook was followed by four more award-winning efforts that covered the cuisines of every region of this sun-drenched part of the world, including southwest France and the eastern Mediterranean. Now Wolfert has returned with her sixth book, a wonderful, wide-ranging work inspired by two of the Mediterranean's most essential ingredients: grains and greens. She came to New York cooking school De Gustibus at Macy's to demonstrate recipes from the new book, to share her contagious passion for all things Mediterranean, and to regale the audience with her unique brand of frank and funny charm.

About Paula Wolfert and Mediterranean Grains and Greens

Paula Wolfert has been roaming the Mediterranean and poking her wooden spoon into the pots of home cooks in every country in the region for nearly 30 years. It was through her award-winning cookbooks that most American food lovers first discovered the exotic traditional dishes, from couscous to pilaf, that have become almost commonplace today. "I remember coming to De Gustibus in its first season, when I'd just written my Moroccan cookbook, and teaching the class about preserved lemons," Wolfert recalled. "No one had ever heard of such a thing!" she said with a laugh. In Mediterranean Grains and Greens, her sixth cookbook, Wolfert uses those two seminal Mediterranean ingredients as a jumping-off point for a wide-ranging collection of fascinating recipes. "I've always seen the Mediterranean in terms of ingredients rather than countries," she says. "I thought of writing about grains and greens because they were ingredients that would take me all around the region—I could meander around and go wherever I wanted to go, and do good food wherever I found it."

So we get Sardinian Flatbread made with semolina flour alongside soup from Greece made with wheat berries, lentils, rice, and fresh herbs; Moroccan Mixed Wild Greens Salad with Preserved Lemons and Olives coexisting with a Gratin of Leafy Greens and Crispy Potatoes with Smoky Paprika and Whipped Eggs from Spain; or Tunisian Spring Lamb Stew with Fresh Favas in the same chapter as a Provençal "Meat Loaf" with Cabbage, Artichokes, Chard, Spinach, and Ground Pork. Throughout the book, Wolfert tells anecdotes from her adventures, explains the fascinating cultural and historical background of each dish, and offers traditional preparation techniques, bringing the culinary world of the Mediterranean to life. As always, Wolfert also includes complete information on any unusual ingredients and a list of mail-order sources.

About the Menu

We started with two delicious appetizers from Turkey, both layered with complex flavors designed to awaken and entice the palate. The first, a Parsley, Basturma, and Kasseri Börek, was made by rolling chopped parsley, creamy kasseri cheese, and thin strips of basturma (an eastern Mediterranean spicy preserved meat) in sheets of lovely, delicate fresh phyllo dough to form a log, which was baked and sliced. The second blended the sweet flavors of cinnamon and apricots with savory ground lamb, rice, and black pepper for an utterly luscious bite perfect for the buffet. We drank an appropriately celebratory dry, delicate sparkling wine from Taittinger's California estate, Domaine Carneros. Next came an unctuous dish of long, slow-cooked leeks, flavored with carrots, parsley, lemon juice, and just a pinch of sugar, that had a taste and texture approaching butter. A Mersault from Louis Jadot, made with Chardonnay grapes, proved a perfect partner.

The centerpiece of the class followed—a stunningly gorgeous black rice from Spain made with mussels, shrimp, and squid, served with pungent garlic aioli drizzled on top. Wolfert sautéed squid, a bit of sausage, and onions in large flat paella pans, and then stirred in a sofrito of roasted tomatoes, saffron, and dried mild red chiles. Next came the special Spanish rice and fish stock colored with squid ink (actually the liquid from canned Spanish calamari—a money-saving trick, since little squid ink packets can cost up to $5 each). The shrimp and mussels cooked in the residual heat after the dish was taken off the burner, and the resulting dish had wonderful, deep layers of flavor and a beautiful chocolate-brown color. We drank an elegant, cru Beaujolais from Château des Jacques in Moulin-à-Vent with the rice. The sweet finale was a simple, delicious dish of sliced bananas drizzled with pungent pine honey and sprinkled with pine nuts, with a spoonful of fresh cookies.

Tips from Paula Wolfert

  • Wolfert loves a gadget that recently appeared in kitchen stores: the rolling garlic peeler, a simple plastic tube that magically removes the peels of garlic cloves when they are rolled inside. She says it has been the recent favorite of the gifts she brings to the many home cooks around the Mediterranean who share their recipes with her: "Do you know how small the garlic is in the Mediterranean? The cloves are tiny! They love the rolling peeler," she says with a laugh.
  • For making an authentic aioli without eggs, Wolfert recommends using a bit of boiled potato as a thickener to achieve a sauce with the texture of loose mayonnaise. And if that doesn't work, forget about holding it together: "Do what the chefs do, and drizzle it beautifully over the top," she says. "You're just looking for that bite of fresh garlic taste."
  • Even high-quality saffron threads can lose their punch if they're not stored in an airtight container—they absorb moisture from the air and their flavor becomes diluted. Wolfert recommends drying them out over heat and then grinding them into a powder before adding them to a dish, but finds it's too easy to burn them in a low oven. Her solution: Cover a small pot of boiling water with a heat-proof plate and place the saffron on top. The gentle heat will slowly dry the threads.
  • When precooking mussels to add to a dish like the black rice that calls for fish stock, it's nice to add the flavorful mussel steaming juices to the pot. Wolfert has a tip for cutting out the step of straining the steaming juices to remove any sand: Crumple a bit of cheesecloth in the bottom of a sieve and put the mussels on top; then let the sieve rest in the simmering stock so the mussels are just covered. Their juices will be released into the stock as they cook and any sand will stay caught in the cheesecloth.

Kate Murphy
Jean Anderson
Wolfert ... is blessed with a passion for food, an unerring eye and palate and an enviable ability to transport her reader to the ends of the earth. —Food & Wine
Suzanne Hamlin
The arrival of a new Paula Wolfert book is, to paraphrase Escoffier on the discovery of a new dish, like discovering a new star in the firmament. —Washington Post
Molly Oneill
When Paula Wolfert discovers a place and its palate, America usually follows. —New York Times
Russ Parsons
[Wolfert] is the queen of Mediterranean cookery. —Los Angeles Times
Jeffrey Steingarten
Paula is part anthropologist, part amateur scholar ... and part culinary interpreter, often improving a dish she has eaten—but always telling us exactly how she has changed it. And Paula is a very good cook. If her food were not delicious, I would be much less interested in the rest. —Vogue
Alice Waters
Paula is passionate about food, and a tireless pursuer. She works in a way that's both sensual and scholarly. She isn't content until she knows not only how your olives were made, but also where you got them, what you did with them, what else you did with them, and whether your friends are doing the same thing. And then she'll call your friends, too.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this return to the well of Mediterranean cooking, Wolfert Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean; Mediterranean Cooking takes an agreeable, sensible approach. Rather than repeating early recipes, she directs readers to the books in which they appear, and instead of trying to adapt recipes for dishes that would be patently impossible to re-create here, she simply describes such delicacies as Cretan "Scarf" Pies, filled with an elaborate collection of wild greens, in appealing sidebars. Nevertheless, there are plenty of challenges and specialties, e.g., Honeycomb Tripe Stew with Celery, Parsley, and Sardo Cheese and Homemade Cretan Rustic Pasta with goat's milk and skinned wheat. Young Mustard Greens with Pomegranate Molasses is a simple dish--for readers who can get their hands on pomegranate molasses. Wolfert can always be counted on to deliver some real discoveries: The Monk's Pizza with Pan-Seared Cabbage, made with a yeastless dough; Black Sea-Style Chard Bundles Filled with Veal, Toasted Corn Kernels, and Fresh Mint; and Bran-Crusted Barbecued Whole Fish with Chard Stem Tahini Sauce. Wolfert's expertise lies in linking the various Mediterranean cuisines, as in the highly informative mini-essays on rough-hewn pastas such as fregula, couscous, miftool and mhamma, and on Spanish rice dishes that accompany recipes like Tunisian Fish Couscous with Pumpkin and Leafy Greens and Black Rice with Mussels and Shrimp. Sept.
Library Journal
Wolfert, whose love affair with the Mediterranean began decades before it became the culinary darling of the food world, has written another impressive cookbook on its specialties, from the rice dishes of Spain to the couscous of Morocco. The more than 150 recipes include dishes from most of the countries in between, from Proven al France to Greece to Tunisia. As always, Wolfert's recipes are as authentic as possible, which means that in some cases they may be somewhat time-consuming or require harder-to-find ingredients (a good source guide is included), but this quest for authenticity is part of what makes her book so impressive. Although greens (she's particularly interested in wild Mediterranean greens) and grains are the focus, these are not necessarily vegetarian dishes, and Chicken Camargue-Style and Grilled Fish Stuffed with Seafood and Moroccan Charmoula, for example, are featured along with other delicious possibilities. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060172510
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula Wolfert is an expert on Mediterranean food and the author of nine cookbooks, including The Food of Morocco, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, and The Cooking of Southwest France. Wolfert has won the James Beard Award, the Julia Child Award, the M. F. K. Fisher Award, and the Tastemaker Award, and was a finalist for the André Simon Award. A regular columnist for Food & Wine, Wolfert lives in Sonoma, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Lamb Soup with Green Garlic, Leeks, and Yogurt (Turkey)

Makes 3 quarts, serving 6

This dish, one of my all-time favorite yogurt dishes, has the qualities of both a soup and a stew, so rich and satisfying you probably won't need a main course to follow.

Green garlic shoots, which resemble baby leeks but in fact are unformed garlic cloves, appear at farmers' markets and in fine food stores in early spring. They're as subtly garlicky as young leeks are delicately oniony. When you combine the two you get something really special. When purchasing green garlic, look for long, firm stalks with crisp fresh leaves.

If you have a kitchen garden and want to grow your own green garlic, separate a head of garlic that has sprouted, divide the cloves, and push each into the ground with the sprout pointing up. Don't bury them too deep. Keep the soil moist. In less than three months you'll be able to harvest fresh stalks.

I wrote extensively about yogurt soups in The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. Home cooks in the region have taught me an unusual method of handling yogurt so it doesn't break apart during cooking, while still producing silky, creamy yogurt dishes. Step 5 below explains the technique in detail.

This soup is served with a final last-moment swirl of sizzling oil and butter and ground spices on top.


6 cups plain yogurt
3 small spring lamb shanks (2 pounds), or 8 ounces boneless shoulder of lamb, trimmed of all fat and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 1/2 pounds green garlic, untrimmed
1 1/2 pounds leeks, untrimmed
1 teaspoonsalt plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
1 whole egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Mint and Black Pepper Swirls
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 rounded tablespoons dried mint leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. One day in advance, drain the yogurt to make 3 cups.

2. The following day, place the meat and 2 quarts water in a 4- or 5-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and skim. Add the drained chickpeas, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, trim the root ends and remove any yellowing tips from the green garlic and leeks. Make 1/4-inch slices crosswise, using approximately 9 inches of each firm stalk. You should have approximately 2 quarts. Wash and drain. When the soup has cooked 30 minutes, add the green garlic, leeks, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook 30 minutes longer, or until the garlic shoots and leeks are meltingly tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. (If the meat is not tender, scoop out the greens and continue cooking. Return the greens to the soup when the meat is also very tender.)

4. Remove the meat; discard the bones and cut into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and return to the soup. Reheat the soup to simmering.

5. In a second large saucepan, whisk the yogurt with the milk, egg, flour, and 1 tablespoon oil, until completely smooth. Set the yogurt over low heat and turn off the heat under the soup. Gradually stir 2 cups of the hot soup base into the yogurt in order to raise its temperature. When the temperature of the yogurt is hotter than the temperature of the soup, pour the yogurt back into the soup and set it on medium heat, stirring, until it just comes to a boil, about 15 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat. Correct the seasoning with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Transfer to a soup tureen.

6. To make the mint and pepper swirls, press the ground black pepper and the dried mint leaves through a fine sieve directly over the soup to form a small pile. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the butter in a small pan, bring to a sizzle, and pour over the pepper and mint. Stir gently to create Jackson Pollock-like swirls. Cover the soup and wait 5 minutes before serving.

With thanks to Ayfer Unsal for sharing this recipe.

Mustard Greens with Black-Eyed Peas and Rice (Turkey)

Serves 4

In the southeastern part of Turkey, in the town of Urfa, where I found this recipe, a unique smoky and slightly tart-flavored chili pepper is used to season kofte, stuffed vegetables, pilafs, kebabs, and stewed greens and beans.

Developing this recipe, I discovered that a combination of Turkish red pepper paste, smoky chili pepper such as chipotle or Spanish pimenton de la Vera, and black pepper simulated its special taste and stood up well to the assertive flavor of mustard greens.

I suggest serving this dish as a starter on a warmed shallow platter along with olives and cheese.


1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1/4 cup medium- or long-grain rice
2 bunches strong-flavored mustard greens
6 ounces lean ground lamb
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon Turkish red pepper paste
1/4 teaspoon mildly hot red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 lemon wedges


1. Soak the black-eyed peas according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and cook in plenty of water until almost tender, 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, soak the rice in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. Wash the greens in several changes of water; trim the stems. Chop tender stems and greens coarsely to make 4 cups.

3. Place the meat and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 4 quart casserole. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, and continue cooking, covered, 2 minutes more. Stir in the tomato and pepper pastes and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook at a simmer for 20 minutes.

4. To the casserole, add the rice and the drained black-eyed peas. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and continue cooking over medium heat until the greens, rice, and peas are all tender, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and stir in salt to taste.

5. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet, add the hot red pepper and black pepper, and allow to sizzle gently. Immediately drizzle over the bean mixture and stir to combine. Tip into a shallow serving dish and serve warm with wedges of lemon.

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A Recipe from Mediterranean Grains and Greens

Spicy Lamb- and Rice-Stuffed Apricots

Serves 6

In Central Anatolia, where they stuff every sort of edible green, the cooks seem to have stuffings on their minds. This delicious dish of caramelized cinnamon-stuffed apricots or prunes is often served as a part of a large buffet.

6 ounces (about 24) pitted dried apricots or purple prunes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces ground beef or lamb with some fat
1/4 cup medium-grain rice, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, rinsed, and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1. Wash the dried fruit and soak in warm water for 10 minutes. Pour the soaking liquid and the fruit into a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile prepare the stuffing. In a small skillet, warm the oil, add the meat, and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained rice and let cool. Mix in the cinnamon and salt and pepper and knead the mixture until blended and smooth.

3. In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup water and the sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stuff the fruit, place side by side in a buttered skillet, and pour the sugared water down inside the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes before uncovering.

Recipe from Mediterranean Grains and Greens, copyright © 1998 by Paula Wolfert. All right reserved.

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