I'm a Dietitian & These Are My Favorite Mediterranean-Diet Dinners for Summer

Sesame Kohlrabi & Chicken Salad
Photo: Charlotte & Johnny Autry

I love all of the seasons, but summer is hard to beat. The weather is warm, my garden is thriving and there's an abundance of seasonal produce to choose from. I relish the asparagus, fresh greens and radishes until they make way for tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. And there are few simple pleasures that match eating a fresh ear of corn (which also makes a great affordable side). I turn to recipes like Caprese Turkey Burgers and Sesame Kohlrabi & Chicken Salad again and again because they provide me with creative and delicious ways to utilize some of my favorite summer veg while staying within my budget. Not to mention, they showcase staple foods in the Mediterranean diet, like fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Dinners like this show that following the healthiest eating pattern around can be accessible, no matter your budget or flavor preferences. Whether you feel a gravitational pull to the grill (like I do) or daydream about a veggie-packed casserole, there's something for you on this list. For more budget-friendly and beginner cooking tips, recipes and more, check out Thrifty.

01 of 16

Grilled Summer Vegetable Panzanella

Grilled Summer Vegetable Panzanella with Feta
Brie Passano

This grilled vegetable salad is filled with summer zucchini and eggplant that are marinated in an herby dressing. Crusty country-style bread helps soak up the flavors. The optional feta cheese adds a briny finishing note. To keep sodium in check, reduce the amount of salt in the salad if you opt to use the feta.

02 of 16

Chicken Souvlaki Kebabs with Mediterranean-Inspired Couscous

Chicken Souvlaki Kebabs with Mediterranean Couscous

Fennel adds a nice flavoring to the marinade in this Mediterranean-inspired chicken souvlaki dish. The kebabs are perfectly paired with a veggie-packed, yogurt-dressed Israeli couscous.

03 of 16

Prosciutto Pizza with Corn & Arugula


This grilled prosciutto and arugula pizza makes the perfect summer dinner. If you have time, let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes to make rolling it out easier in this 20-minute healthy pizza recipe. Thawed frozen corn works in place of fresh, just pat it dry before sprinkling it on the pizza.

04 of 16

Caprese Turkey Burgers

Caprese Turkey Burgers

If you're a fan of caprese salads, you'll love this healthy turkey burger recipe. The patties are seasoned with Italian spices, then topped with juicy tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. We've doubled down on the basil in this recipe by mixing it into the mayo and using whole leaves to top the burger, but if you prefer less basil flavor, you can swap out the basil leaves for spinach or arugula. Serve this summery burger with a simple side salad for a healthy dinner that's full of fresh flavors.

05 of 16

Avocado Caprese Salad

Avocado Caprese Salad
Photographer / Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist / Karen Rankin, Prop Stylist / Christine Keely

This avocado caprese salad has all the flavors of a classic caprese salad with the addition of creamy avocado. The sweet and tangy balsamic dressing pulls everything together, with fresh basil adding a refreshing pop of color. Add capers for an even bigger flavor.

06 of 16

Simple Grilled Salmon & Vegetables


Grilled salmon and veggies make for a colorful and balanced seafood dinner that's ready in just minutes. The grill turns the salmon flaky and moist while tenderizing the crispy pepper and onion pieces. Round out the meal with brown rice or quinoa.

07 of 16

Orzo Salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Feta & Olives

Orzo Salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Feta & Olives
Photography / Fred Hardy, Styling / Ruth Blackburn

This Greek-inspired orzo salad has just the right amount of tartness from red-wine vinegar and just a hint of sweetness. Fresh veggies give it crunch and texture.

08 of 16

Sesame Kohlrabi & Chicken Salad

Sesame Kohlrabi & Chicken Salad
Charlotte & Johnny Autry

Kohlrabi (a bulbous vegetable related to broccoli and Brussels sprouts but with a milder, sweet flavor) and almonds add crunch to this crowd-pleasing salad. Baked tofu or shrimp can be used instead of the chicken.

09 of 16

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Burgers


These vegan sweet potato-black bean burgers spiced with curry powder are easy to make. Blending the mixture with your hands gives you a soft, uniform texture, then the outside gets crispy by cooking in a cast-iron pan. To make this recipe gluten-free too, use gluten-free oats and serve the patty in a lettuce wrap, omitting the bun.

10 of 16

Avocado Tuna Spinach Salad

Avocado Tuna Spinach Salad
Greg DuPree

Avocado adds creaminess while sunflower seeds provide texture and crunch in this easy tuna-spinach salad.

11 of 16

Sheet-Pan Garlic-Soy Chicken & Vegetables

Sheet-Pan Teriyaki Chicken & Vegetables
Photographer / Brie Passano, Food Stylist / Annie Probst, Prop Stylist / Holly Raibikis

This easy dish comes together quickly and is cooked all on one baking sheet. Putting the pan in the oven while it preheats makes it hot enough to lightly sear the chicken and vegetables, adding texture and flavor and also reducing the cook time. Chicken thighs emerge from the oven succulent and coated in the savory sauce (with less salt because of the low-sodium soy sauce) and fragrant from the garlic, ginger and scallions. We recommend serving this with brown rice or whole-wheat noodles.

12 of 16

Cod Fish Tacos

Cod Fish Tacos
Photographer / Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist / Kay Clarke, Food Stylist / Emily Nabors Hall

Let your oven do the work for these quick and simple cod fish tacos. Broiling the cod allows the fish to stay moist and flake easily once finished. Hot sauce adds a punch of acidity and mild heat, while sour cream makes a creamy slaw that adds crunch to the taco.

13 of 16

Cheesy Spinach-Zucchini Lasagna

Cheesy Spinach-Zucchini Lasagna
Greg DuPree

Thanks to jarred marinara sauce and oven-ready lasagna noodles, this labor-of-love kind of meal can be ready in about an hour.

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Garlicky Grilled Steak & Kale Salad

Garlicky Grilled Steak & Kale Salad
Charlotte and Johnny Autry

A bright lemon, garlic and tarragon vinaigrette coats this salad topped with grilled steak. Since the grill is already fired up, we throw on some bread for homemade croutons.

15 of 16

Mozzarella, Basil & Zucchini Frittata


This vegetable-studded frittata recipe is one of the quickest meals you can make. Make it for breakfast, or serve for lunch or dinner with a tossed salad and a slice of olive-oil-drizzled crusty baguette.

16 of 16

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole


Think of this vegetarian enchilada casserole as a veggie-packed Mexican-inspired lasagna with corn tortillas standing in for the noodles! If your peppers are mild and you like heat, opt for spicy pico de gallo. This easy vegetarian dinner recipe is sure to become a new family favorite.

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