Recipe roundup: 50 recipes to satisfy your wanderlust from home
Travel is the one thing in life where we can enrich our lives by diversifying our culture and mindset. This year, travel may not be an option for us - but all is not lost! Even in the midst of a lockdown, you can still travel and experience the rich culture of various countries through cooking! Cultural cuisines are often the highlight of any trip so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that taste has a way of transporting us.. Sometimes the mere flavour or smell of a dish, similar to that you’ve experienced at a particular place, can take you right back to that country.
While nothing can truly ever replace the wonder and excitement that comes with visiting a new destination or place that is near and dear to your heart, these recipes will make you feel like you’re exploring the world no matter where you are. Grab your virtual passport and join us as we travel to Italy, Greece, Mexico, Cuba, and Florida with these recipes.
When you think of Italy, words like pizza, pasta, meatballs, and parmigiana come to mind, along with the mandate “Mangia la pasta (eat pasta)!” But there is so much more to Italy than just pizzerias and trattorias. Italian cuisine is rich in starches, cured and fresh meats, seasonal produce, fresh herbs, vibrant colours, and will provide an array of textures and complementing flavours for your palette. The flavours of Italian cuisine are often built upon these staple ingredients: basil, balsamic vinegar, cheese, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, parsley, pasta, porcini mushrooms, tomato, and red, rosé and white wine.
Eating can be seen as a ritual in Italy. It is a gathering of food, family, wine, and storytelling throughout various courses of food that tend to have a crescendo effect - they get bigger and more elaborate as the courses continue. But Italian cuisine is based on one thing: family-friendly recipes with fresh and colourful ingredients. Below are some of Italy’s most traditional dishes:
- Caprese salad - springtime and summer cooking cannot get any better than ripe tomato slices topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Lasagna - a native dish to Naples, lasagna noodles are layered with either a meat or tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, topped with mozzarella cheese, and then baked.
- Spaghetti alla carbonara - a traditional dish from Rome that consists of cooked spaghetti tossed into a pan with pancetta and then mixed with beaten eggs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.
- Neapolitan pizza - as the name suggests, this pizza originated in Naples and originally started as just a piece of flatbread with tomatoes. A more common name for this dish is Margherita pizza, which is now covered with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and mozzarella di bufala (cheese from Italian water buffalos in southern Italy).
- Tiramisu - what is more delectable than ladyfinger cookies, soaked in espresso and rum, and layered with a heavenly mixture of eggs, sugar, mascarpone cheese, and sprinkles of cocoa powder...absolutely nothing!
È ora di mangiare (It is time to eat)! Try these Italian recipes
Ripe, seasonal, and colourful produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, leafy greens, and fresh herbs are staples for Greek cuisine. Pair these ingredients with salty feta cheese, tart olives such as Kalamata, grilled pork, lamb, beef, or chicken, and a glass of red wine, and your tastebuds will make you feel like you are basking in the Santorini sun.
Some of the fundamental ingredients in Greek cuisine include locally-sourced ingredients that will provide a kaleidoscope of tastes. Some of these ingredients include: feta cheese, fresh fruits (such as figs, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and cherries), fish and seafood (the most common locally-sourced such as sardines, anchovies, and octopus), Greek honey, Greek yogurt, olive oil, and olives (specifically of the Kalamata variety).
Traditional Greek dishes will range from appetizers consisting of soft cheeses and olives to more elaborate main meals such as moussaka. Below is a list of dishes that are native to this gorgeous southern European country.
- Baklava - Greece’s most famous dessert that offers a sticky, flaky, and crispy phyllo pastry, filled with chopped nuts and sweet Greek honey, is simply decadent and difficult to resist
- Gyros - the most common street food in Greece. This pita often consists of rotisserie-style lamb that is thinly sliced, onions, lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki sauce. Similar to baklava, this can be found in restaurants worldwide.
- Moussaka - a casserole dish that is layered with fresh eggplant, locally-sourced ground beef or lamb, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, spices, topped with a creamy bechamel sauce, and then baked. Often time-consuming but a highlight of many Greek meals.
- Souvlaki - the most popular dish in Athens, souvlaki refers to chunks of lamb, chicken, or pork that are cooked and served on skewers
- Spanakopita - sometimes referred to as a spinach pie, this dish delivers a buttery flavour that hits your palate first. It consists of a copious amount of butter, feta, spinach, eggs, and herbs that are then baked between two layers of filo pastry.
- Tzatziki - Greece’s common tangy dip, served cold, is made from Greek yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic, and lemon juice. It often complements grilled meats and vegetables, a warm pita, used as a condiment for souvlaki, or served as a dip for an appetizer.
Enjoy the Mediterranean and Aegean flavours of the sun and sea with these Greek recipes
Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations, equipped with rich Mayan and Aztec culture and crystal-clear beaches. When you think of Mexican cuisine these modern Tex-Mex crowd-pleasers are at the top of everyone’s list: nachos, fajitas, tacos, and burritos. However, these Canadianized versions of Mexican food are far from the real deal. Authentic Mexican cuisine is deeply rooted in fresh ingredients, zesty spices, fragrant herbs like cilantro and parsley, and sauces that can pack a heat punch. Unlike Canadianized favourites, they typically do not use beef, canned vegetables, cumin, and yellow cheese.
Whether you are eating an authentic dish or one of modern nature, Mexican food still uses the same ingredients that were harvested by the Aztecs and Mayans. Some staple ingredients that play an invaluable role in Mexican cuisine include: beans, cheese (the most common varieties include: queso fresco, cotija, panela, and crema), chiles (some of the most common types of chiles, all varying in heat, include: jalapeño, poblano, serrano, habanero, ancho, guajillo, cascabel, and árbol), citrus fruits (such as oranges and limes), salsa (the four common types of salsa include: salsa verde, salsa roja, salsa brava, and salsa tatemada), and tortillas.
The fresh and tantalizingly complex cuisine of Mexico combines authentic dishes and reinventive takes on old traditional favourites to create a flavourful collection of meals. From impromptu tequila spritzers, to handmade tortillas perfect for tender carnitas, all the way to versatile sauces such as mole poblano, Mexican recipes are diverse and delicious. There are so many mouth-watering dishes just waiting to be discovered! Below are some traditional Mexican dishes, far from their Tex-Mex counterparts, that will give you a taste of Mexico’s authentic cuisine.
- Aguachile - a spicy Mexican dish similar to ceviche that contains shrimp, lime juice, cilantro, chili peppers, and slices of cucumbers and onions
- Chilaquiles - a breakfast dish that showcases fried corn tortillas, which are cut into quarters, and topped with green or red salsa. Popular toppings often include: cheese, pulled chicken, and fried or scrambled eggs.
- Elote - referred to as Mexican street corn. Traditionally, the corn is boiled and served on a stick, or in a cup with the kernels cut off the cob. No matter the way you choose to devour this delight, the elotes almost always include sour cream, mayonnaise, chili powder, lime, butter, and cheese. Think amusement park corn-on-the-cob but the extreme version!
- Enchiladas - native to the Mayan culture, these flour and corn tortillas are wrapped around seafood, meat, beans, vegetables, and cheese and then smothered in a rich chili sauce.
- Gorditas - similar to the Greek pita, thick corn tortillas are split open and filled with your favourite toppings
- Tamales - these corn dough pockets are stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling, wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks, and then steamed. Tamales often pair well with salsa or mole sauce.
Celebrate every day like it's a fiesta with these flavour-packed recipes
Cuba is a true fusion of multiple cultures with Cuban food heavily influenced by African, Chinese, and Spanish settlers. To understand Cuban food, one must first understand its food history. Like many other countries, Cuban cuisine is deeply influenced by tradition. In this case, socio-cultural and political events such as the Spanish colonization, the arrival of African slaves, and the neighbouring countries have led to the evolution of Cuban food and flavour throughout the years. The Spanish colonization and African slaves brought forth their spices and food ingredients such as Guinea chicken and plantains, Cubans adopted the practice of eating rice with many other foods as a direct influence from the arrival of the Chinese.
The main dishes of Cuban food are very meat-centric with chicken, pork, and not as commonly used beef and lamb, as Cuban meat staples. Fish and seafood do not play a vital role in traditional Cuban food but it can be found as a vegetarian option at Cuban restaurants for tourists. There is also a focus on local produce that is native to the tropical climate such as bananas, yucca, plantains, and guava. Plantain trees are found in abundance and there are a variety of preparation methods for this fruit in a Cuban kitchen. Fresh herbs and an array of different spices are not common to Cuban cuisine. However, the most commonly used spices, when used, are garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Pantry staples often include white and yellow rice and black beans as they are inexpensive and have a longer shelf life. Most Cuban dishes use these two ingredients as a fundamental base. Now onto dessert! Cuba’s sugarcane cultivation has led sweet sponge cakes to be a family-favourite.
Below are some of the traditional dishes of Cuba, that are a result of a melting pot of cultures.
- Arroz con pollo - a classic one-pot Cuban dish made with yellow rice with chunks of chicken in a tomato sauce base. It can also be prepared with vegetables making it a healthy comfort food meal.
- Picadillo - used as a filling in tacos and empanadas, picadillo is made of ground beef, cumin, olive oil, onion, salt, sugar, tomato sauce, capers, and bell pepper
- Ropa vieja - translated to mean “old clothes,” this dish is made from stewed shredded beef that is slow cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and wine. It pairs well with white rice, black beans, and sweet plantains.
- Mojo criollo - a popular sauce inspired by both Spanish and African influences. It is prepared with chicken or pork and is typically made with garlic, oil, and sour orange juice.
- Tostones - twice- fried plantains that are most commonly enjoyed as a side dish and made from unripe green plantains
Feel like you’re walking through the cobblestone roads of Havana when you try these Cuban recipes
There’s more to this snowbirds destination than just beautiful bodies of water and bright orange citrus fruits. This peninsula, surrounded by three bodies of water and home to a diverse population, makes this a travel destination for seafood lovers and for those looking for a dash of southern flare and a taste of different island specialties.
Many residents of Florida come from another country, making it so widely diverse in culture. With this comes some staple dishes with international flavours that often become mainstay foods. For this reason, Florida does not have staple ingredients that sets it apart from other countries. Rather, key pantry and kitchen staples come from a wide array of cultural cuisines. From Floridian classics like stone crab and key lime pie to international influences like conch fritters, you can savour the Sunshine State with these famous delights in the state of Florida.
- Apalachicola oysters - locally sourced from the apalachicola bay, these large, salty oysters are sought out by chefs since they are believed to be the best oysters in the world
- Conch fritters - originating from the Bahamas, diced conch, celery, and carrots are mixed with lime juice, curry, beer, deep fried, and then served with a spicy dipping sauce
- Cuban sandwich - the sandwich best symbolizes the diverse Tampa population, containing salami from Italy, pork from Cuba, Spanish ham, Swiss cheese, German pickles, and Cuban bread
- Gator tail - the little bites are flavoured with cajun seasoning and served with a cilantro cream or chipotle sauce that perfectly complements the meal
- Key lime pie - besides oranges, Florida’s next biggest export is key lime pie, named after the small, aromatic limes associated with the Florida Keys. Made with fresh lime juice, condensed milk, and egg yolk, poured into a graham cracker crust, this pie is a crowd pleaser no matter the state or country you are from.
- Stone crab - this Florida delicacy, often compared to lobster, is served cold with a mustard dipping sauce