Mediterranean pot is always set up on low fire while some mystical aromas are spreading all over the home. Typically, vegetables, spices, meat, oils and above all laurel or bay leaves are used. In fact, the bay leaves could be one of the most mysterious spices with interesting history and deep connection to the Mediterranean healing rituals. Our grandmothers, especially in Greece, were experts in slow cooking! They would assemble a pot full of most pleasant aromas and have it on low fire for hours. The result would always be extremely delicious. No professional chef could compete with it.
Mediterranean pot of mystery
Interestingly, these stews or any kind of similar Mediterranean pot assembly would often be totally Keto. Naturally, our grandmas were not aware of it, but the ingredients they used were starch-free, sugar-free and very low in carbs! The meat was always a symbol of wealth and festivity. So, when such a pot would be prepared, we would enjoy Keto food without even realising it. Of course, spices and herbs always played a major role in the preparation of these meals. There’s just something mysterious about the oldfashioned ways of cooking in our region.
The legend about Laurel (bay leaves)
An ancient Greek myth describes Apollo, the mighty God of light and poetry, who made fun of Eros, the god of love (often depicted as a baby, also known as Cupid) and his bow and arrows. Eros was using them to make people fall in love. Apollo said to him: –Why do you need the weapon of war? Let it in the hands of those who are worthy of it. Eros decided to take revenge and made two arrows: one golden, with a sharp tip that encouraged love, and another made of lead with a dull edge that encouraged hatred.
Arrow of revenge
The sharp arrow went straight to Apollo’s heart and Apollo fell in love with a nymph named Daphne (Greek word for Laurel is Dafni – Δάφνη). But the dull arrow of Eros came to Daphne’s heart and filled her with hatred towards Apollo. While Apollo was constantly trying to win Daphne, she was running away from him. The nymph asked for help from her father, the river god Peneios, by saying: -Help me, father! Open the ground and let the Earth swallow me! Or let me change the shape and face that brought me to this trouble! Help me get rid of this man (God) forever.
Peneios listened to his daughter, and her skin turned into a bark, hair into leaves, and hands into branches. She stopped running and her legs became roots. She completely turned into a laurel tree!
Apollo hugged the tree
The laurel branches were still moving away from him. He had to admit defeat. Since he could no longer take the tree for his wife, the mighty God of light swore to look after that tree and keep it from all the creatures that could hurt it. He also promised that from its foliage he would create a wreath that he and the best poets would wear. In the end, Apollo used his divine powers and gave laurel the eternal youth and immortality. Therefore the laurel is always green, and its leaves do not change the colour even when dried.
Health benefits of laurel in Mediterranean pot
The most remarkable health advantages of bay leaves include their capacity to detoxify the organism and defend it from bacterial diseases. Daphne (Laurel) delays the ageing process, speeds up the wound healing, controls diabetes, enhances heart health, decreases inflammation. It has the power to relieve the respiratory problems, optimize metabolism, and inhibit specific types of cancer.
What are the Bay Leaves?
There are many varieties of bushes whose leaves are called “bay leaves”. However, the actual bay leaf is accurately identified as Laurus nobilis. This is the only nutrient-rich variety. Several other leaves have a comparable look and smell like actual laurel leaves, but not the equivalent nutrient content. This plant is a modest tree indigenous to the eastern Mediterranean area.
So let’s dive into the myth and prepare the most aromatic Keto Mediterranean pot the way our grandmas would!
Mediterranean pot with Bay leaves
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsp goat butter alternatively, grass-fed cow's butter
- 300 g (1.1/3 cup) ground veal grass-fed
- 300 g (1.1/3 cup) ground lamb alternatively ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 medium tomato
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp red paprika powder
- 4 medium laurel (bay) leaves
- 1/2 tbsp sea salt
- 1/2 tbsp dried basil
- Peel and cut all the vegetables into cubes and cut the garlic cloves in halves. Season the mixture with salt, oregano, red paprika and basil. Keep this mixture in the refrigerator while you are preparing the meatballs.
- Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs with your hands and create approximately 16 medium meatballs.
- In a deep pot, melt the butter and add olive oil. Fry the meatballs and keep rolling them until they are golden-brown from each side.
- At this point, add all the cut vegetables, and stir gently. try not to destroy the meatballs. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 40 minutes and occasionally stir. You can add some water during the process, but vegetable will release its juices so it's not necessary.
- Serve with sesame seeds and aged goat cheese. (Alternatively, serve with crumbled feta cheese)