Colorful snacks may seem to have gained popularity only recently due to the attractive Pinterest and Instagram images, but the truth is that across the Mediterranean and Middle East, colorful snack setups have been all the rage for generations. They call it meze. Just like Spain has its tapas, areas such as Greece, Turkey, North Africa, and certain parts of the Middle East have their Mediterranean meze.
What Is Meze?
Meze (also spelled mezze) is considered a light meal that features a range of various small dishes that are eaten as appetizers. Depending on the region, the actual contents of the meze plate may vary, but the concept is still the same everywhere you look.
The whole prerogative of the meze platter is to take your small dishes from the plate/board and then dip them in accompanying sauces, spreads, and dips. The most common ones include yogurt, hummus, and baba ganoush, but you can also use other options such as red pepper and walnut spread called muhammara. It’s common to compliment your meze plate with some type of bread (typically lavash or pita) as well as different cheeses, fruits, pickled veggies, etc.
How to Make Your Own Mediterranean Plate?
While you might feel like the whole concept of Mediterranean meze is too complex and exotic, worry not; you too can recreate this light meal board at your own home with just one trip to your local supermarket. The thing to keep in mind is to feature a rich combination of different flavors and textures for the ultimate enjoyment.
To put it simply, your basic meze set up should feature two-three different dips, a couple of fresh veggies, one-two pickled veggies, dried and/or fresh fruit of your choice, one cheese, and bread.
Follow these steps to recreate a Mediterranean meze plate in your own kitchen:
- First, you’ll need your dips/spreads. As mentioned, the most popular ones include yogurt, hummus, baba ganoush, and muhammara. Now, you can make these yourself, or simply buy them in the store.
- Take out your favorite cheese, cut it into pieces, and arrange them on the board. In general, Feta cheese is the most popular option for Mediterranean meze, especially when drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with herbs.
- Pick out your favorite pickled veggies. These are most commonly olives, but you can also opt for peppers or artichokes.
- Choose a bunch of veggies that are excellent dipping choices and cut them up. You can’t go wrong with carrots, cucumbers, fennel, radishes, and cherry tomatoes.
- Prepare your bread by brushing it lightly with olive oil and heating it up for that true meze Mediterranean grill feel. Pita and lavash are ideal for this.
- Add a selection of dried and/or fresh fruits. In terms of dried fruits, apricots, figs, and dates are ideal, while you can use pears, melon, and grapes fresh.
- Prepare some napkins as your hands are about to get messy!
Meze Tips and Suggestions
When you have to prepare your dinner quickly or find yourself in a pinch when having to serve your guests, nothing can beat the Mediterranean meze platter. For starters, all of the main ingredients can be prepared and refrigerated ahead of time. For instance, the muhammara spread can perfectly hold up in the fridge for a whole week. Just make sure to take everything out of the fridge and let the ingredients sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before serving. Place your dips/spreads, pickled veggies, and cheese in smaller dishes, and arrange the rest of the ingredients on a pretty board/platter that you own.
However, if you’re in the mood for some heavenly Mediterranean Meze, but are not in the mood for preparing it – you’re welcome to visit us at Rakija Grill in Miami and enjoy authentic Mediterranean and Balkan dining.