A-meze-ing Meze

>> Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Oooooohh meze!! Virtually the only way you can justifiably try everything on the menu without spending an inordinate amount of money or being perceived as the greediest person at the table.

Authentic meze takes effort. Little dishes must warrant their place at the table with big, gutsy flavours and surprising textures. Ideally they must also complement each other, with a theme of ingredients running through the collection of dishes.

On the face of it, making ten different dishes at home, that each delight and marry together is a little daunting (finding the time to cook one meal can be hard enough!).

So, this is my easy approach to meze, practised with some friends over the weekend. Dishes are generally Helen-invented (i.e. not authentic Greek dishes), but inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and recipes.

I've been quite brief with the method, as the dishes aren't complicated and you can easily tweak things.

Meze Dish 1: Pitta Stuffed with Spiced Lamb

Dry fry 2 tsp cumin seeds and crush in pestle and mortar with a pinch of dried chili flakes. Mix in with 200g lamb mince, a healthy glug of garlic infused olive oil, 1 tbsp sesame seeds and seasoning. Roll into balls and press into patties. Bake in the oven 160c - 180c for 20 minutes (you may need to drain some fat during the cooking time). Serve in toasted pittas with grated carrot.

Meze Dish 2: Hot & Smoky Sweet Potato

Slice 3 large sweet potatoes into wedges. Mix with seasoning, 1 tsp smoked paprika and a good glug of chili oil. Bake in the oven (160c) for 20 minutes until golden.

Meze Dish 3: Sweet and Savoury Nuts

Melt a knob of butter in the microwave. Mix with 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin and ground sea salt (amount depends on your taste and concern about sodium levels!). Stir in 200g chopped nuts and spread mixture on baking try. Roast at 160c for 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool before serving.

Meze Dish 4: Tasty Tortillas

Apply a paste of your choice (e.g. tomato puree/pesto/harisa/sundried tomato) to 1 tortilla. Top with slices of meat (e.g. chorizo, salami) and grated cheese (e.g. mozzarella). Place another tortilla on top, squeeze together and grill on each side for 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbling on the inside (be careful when you turn them over). Slice and serve warm.

Meze Dish 5: Lentil and Aubergine Salad

Method: Chop 1 aubergine into cubes. Mix with olive oil, 1 tsp ground cumin and seasoning. Roast for 40 minutes until golden. Whilst cooking, boil 150g puy lentils. When cooked, stir though 3 large chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped coriander, roasted aubergine, 2 tsp cider vinegar and crumbled feta. Season to taste and serve.

Meze Dish 6: Tzatziki and Tortilla Chips

Method: Grate 1/2 cucumber, place in kitchen roll and squeeze out as much fluid as possible. Mix with 2 tbsp full-fat Greek yogurt, 1 tsp cider vinegar, seasoning and 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil. Stir, stir, stir and serve with grilled triangles of tortilla.

Hopefully you can see how easy these dishes are! They're great for relaxed evenings with friends indoors or out! You could increase the amounts and easily served as side dishes for BBQs too.

Hope you enjoy - and maybe try?!


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