“Mezze” refers to a series of small plates, a staple in Middle Eastern food culture. I enjoy them very much with some warm pita, falafels, grilled veggies, or just some fresh raw veggies. They are easy to make and can spice up plain grilled chicken or stir fried veggies that need a boost. And, not to mention they are proudly a part of the Mediterranean diet, and the olive oil is especially good for your heart, so indulge my friends.
Thanks to my favorite middle eastern restaurant, Carnival , for inspiring this post. And, to Anna, a Greek family friend, for giving me a great Greek cookbook, Vefa’s Kitchen. I decided with the continued hot weather in California to make a cool dinner and a light vegetarian one too. I think if you have a few good dips in the fridge, you only need imagination to make tons of other meals.
I decided to make hummus, tzatziki, and babaghanoug (eggplant dip) and serve it with pita chips, fresh veg, and some cooked vegetables to have something hot. The dips are a meal in themselves because of the tahini, which is sort of a middle eastern version of peanut butter, made from seasame seeds, which provides the protein.
I was happy with the hummus and tzatziki, but I have made some suggestions for the babaghanoug. I will make it again and update it here when I do. Just a note, all of these dips taste even better the next day because the garlic flavor evens out, so whip it up quick and leave in the fridge for lunch of dinner tomorrow.
*You may need to go to a middle eastern store to find tahini. Or, you can make it without it and call it a bean dip.
This is the tahini, similar to peanut butter:
1. Rinse and drain garbanzo beans.
2. Combine all ingredients into blender and blend, stopping often to mix with spoon to help blender out.
3. Top with parsley, lemon juice, and sprinkle of paprika if desired. Store in fridge.
This is my new favorite dip to make because its so easy and very tasty! You may be able to buy hummus easily, but this tzatziki is rewarding to make.
3 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 teaspoons dried dill weed
2 teaspoons dried mint (optional)
1. Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Be sure to pour off any liquid out of the container before pouring into a bowl. You want the yogurt to be thick. To make it even thicker, you can drain yogurt in paper towels in a strainer for 6 hours.
2. Peel and grate the cucumber with paper towels under the cucumber. Use paper towels to press out excess moisture. Add to yogurt.
3. Add minced garlic, salt, olive oil, dried dill weed to taste, and mint if desired. Mix up and store in fridge.
I grilled the eggplants over the open fire but they tasted a bit too smoky for me. I advise here to bake the eggplants instead.
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon or red wine vinegar
3 tablespoon tahini (optional)
1. Bake eggplants at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until outer skin is crisp and inside is soft. (I fired them here, but only do this if you don’t mind a strong smoky flavor)
2. Peel eggplants under cool water, and remove seeds inside. Salt the open flesh in the colander to neutralize bitter taste. Let flesh drain in colander for 10 minutes at least.
3. Blend the eggplant, and all other ingredients in the blender briefly. Adding the tahini will make it a little thicker and taste closer to hummus. It would be quite nice, eggplant hummus. Store in fridge.
I sautéed some zucchini, onion, and green pepper to stuff pitas, and I needed some “hot” food