Greek meze board

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Meze is a term used in Mediterranean cuisine to describe cooked or raw finger foods usually served before a main meal or may also be a light main meal. A big part of the Mediterranean diet consists of various meze which are made up of seasonal vegetables, meats, dips and nuts or seeds. Usually served in small plates, meze can also be a good option for fussy eaters if you have kids.

With all the hearty Christmas food out the way, I’ve put together a rough guide on how to build a healthy Greek meze board. My favourite way to keep it quick and easy is to use mostly raw ingredients. Fresh whole foods can make up at least seventy percent of the board, then fill up the gaps with one or two dips, some pickles and marinades, and throw in a few cubes of feta or halloumi cheese and almonds. Feel free to experiment with seasonal vegetables and new dips to add variety to your platter.

A cold meze board is an simple and elegant option for entertaining at home and there is no cooking required. To save on time, I recommend you make the dips the day before so all you have to do is assemble everything before your guests arrive.

GREEK MEZE BOARD

Below are some examples of ingredients to select for your Greek meze board:

Vegetables: Carrots slices, cucumbers slices, sliced red/Yellow/Green peppers, cherry tomatoes, whole radishes, raw artichokes (peeled and dipped in lemon water), raw fine green beans

Cheese: Halloumi cheese, thickly sliced or cut into cubes, cubed feta cheese

Bread: Pita bread, cut into triangles, crackers

Pickles / marinades: Kalamata or sun-dried black olives or any other marinated olives

Nuts / seeds: raw almonds or walnuts

Dips: Hummus, tzatziki

Meat: Sliced ham or other cured meat slices

  1. Prepare the dips in advance or the day before (recipes below).

  2. Choose a large wooden board or platter and arrange the vegetables in groups around the board. Then arrange the cheese, pita bread, dips, olives and almonds around them. Place the smaller items like olives and almonds into small bowls onto the platter.

    Note: Cured meats are usually popular additions to a meze board. Since these are processed foods choose artisan or high quality cuts made with the least ingredients.

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HUMMUS

2 cups cooked chickpeas

2 tablespoons tahini paste

Juice of 1 lemon, to taste

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Himalayan salt, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil, as required

  1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Pour in the olive oil a little at a time while mixing until it becomes a smooth dip. You can adjust the consistency to your liking with the olive oil.

  2. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. Serve as is or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with paprika.

    Note: to save time, use drained and rinsed jarred or canned chickpeas. I prefer cooking the chickpeas myself and freezing them in batches. Use about 2 cups of chickpeas per container and cover with the cooking liquid (remember to leave space on top for expansion when frozen. When you need to use them, thaw overnight and drain off the liquid.

TZATZIKI DIP

4 medium “pickling” cucumbers, coarsely grated

1 cup organic Greek yoghurt, as required

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon dried mint

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

  1. Place the grated cucumber onto a clean kitchen towel and sprinkle over the salt. Leave up to 10 minutes then squeeze out the cucumber juice with the kitchen towel (I do this over the sink). Place the strained cucumber into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well to combine. Adjust the consistency of the dip by adding more yoghurt if you prefer a looser dip*.

  2. Cover and leave it in the refrigerator for at least one hour for the flavours to infuse. If you make this dip the day before you may need to drain off some excess water before serving.

    *Note: the amount of yoghurt you use depends of the size of the cucumbers. I prefer to use full fat organic authentic Greek yoghurt. It has a tangier flavour and firmer texture than the more popular Greek-style yoghurt which is usually creamier.