It’s Greek easter and we may be social distancing at the moment but I’m going to try to bring a little bit of that Mediterranean flavour and holiday vibes to your homes by helping you to re create a meze feast that will give you a little taster of the greek isles.
“I wanted to create a meze that my mum would be proud of.”
I cooked this meze for some friends at the end of last summer so most of the photos are from then, I promise that the 3 meter rule has been strictly adhered to…but I decided to try and recreate it this weekend for our family to cheer us up. We were supposed to be in Corfu with my mum for Greek Easter this year but obviously that couldn’t happen so we shall bring the feast to us in lockdown. Easting, drinking and a Facetime with my mum will have to do instead.
Things I would do differently when doing this for friends and family in future…
I probably wouldn’t do all of the cooking on the day again as there was a lot to do and it was actually quite stressful, although it all turned out well and we had a lovely evening eating alfresco in the garden. In future I would prepare most of it the night before and just do the kebabs and barbecued bits on the day so that I look less shiny and dishevelled when the guests arrive. Ross did an excellent job of taking our mates to the pub for an hour though to give me extra time to clear everything up, get rid of the onion tears (and take some photos of course).
I served the following dishes with my mum’s speciality of new potatoes, par boiled and lightly fried in olive oil and garlic, served with crushed coriander seeds and lemon juice, toasted flat breads, stuffed padron peppers with feta (not technically Greek but blummin’ tasty) and of course it wouldn’t be a meze without a classic Greek salad.
We made pork kebabs on the barbecue. You can make yours using your choice of lamb, pork, chicken, fish or halloumi with chopped red onion and peppers.
Here’s what I did –
Dalmades – Serves 6
- 500g fresh or canned grape (vine) leaves, rinsed
- 500g ground minced beef
- 1 large onion grated
- 5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill or mint
- 1/2 cup medium grained rice
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons of butter cut into pieces
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cut the stems off the vine leaves. Blanch them in batches for 3 minutes and then drain. Then let them cool. Combine the ground beef, onions, herbs, rice and half the olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Line the base of a large deep pan with a layer of vine leaves. Lay the remaining vine leaves, shiny side down, on a flat surface. Place a tbsp of the filling in the centre of each, fold in the sides, and roll up into neat parcels. Pack the parcels closely together in layers, seam side down in the prepared pan. Pour in the remaining oil and dot with the knobs of butter. Place a plate just large enough to in the pan on top of the parcels and hold them in place.
Put the pan on a medium heat, carefully pour in the boiling water and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice has absorbed half of the liquid and the parcels are lovely and tender.
Lightly beat the eggs with the lemon juice, the beat in the 1 cup of the pan juices. Pour the mixture over the parcels and gently shake the pan to distribute it. Let stand for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Courgette Fritters – Serves 6
- 6 Cups of grated courgette
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/4 grated onion
- 3/4 cups of plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of grated parmasan or kefalotiri cheese
- 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
- 3 eggs lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley, dill or mint
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
Put the grated courgette into a colander, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and let drain for 1 hour. Gently press the courgette between the palms of your hands to squeeze out the liquid.
Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and cook over a low heat. Sift together the flour and baking powder into the small bowl. Combine the courgette, onions, cheese, bread crumbs, flour mixture, eggs and herbs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. The mixture should be firm enough to hold it’s shape. If it is too soft, add more bread crumbs.
Chill in the fridge for about an hour to firm up the mixture. Heat the vegetable oil in the pan. Shape the mixture into patties and coat with flour, then fry in patches until golden brown on both sides.
Pat dry in paper towels and serve with Tzatziki.
- 1/2 cucumber, halved and deseeded
- 170g pot Greek yogurt
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- Handful of mint leaves or dill chopped
Coarsely grate the cucumber, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and squeeze out all of the liquid.
Tip into a bowl with the yogurt, garlic and mint or dill, and mix well.
**The beautiful rustic dish and meze platter was very kindly gifted from Garden Trading Company**
- 1 can of chic peas drained
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon of harissa for added spice (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Finely chopped parsley to garnish
Combine the ingredients in a blender or mash with a fork and serve with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Chickpeas with Spinach – Serves 6
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 150ml olive oil
- 2 large white onions thinly sliced
- 250ml passata
- 250g spinach roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
Drain the chick peas and rice well. Heat half of the olive oil in the pan. Heat the onions and add over a low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the chick peas and passata and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Mix the spinach with the dill and put half in the base of a large pan. Spoon in the chickpeas and tomato mixture on top, cover with the remaining spinach, season with salt and pepper and pour on the remaining oil. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes until the chickpeas are soft and tender but not mushy and the sauce has reduced.
Sprinkle with the lemon juice.
Serve with cold beers.
If you do end up trying any of these meze recipes, I’d love to hear how you get on or see some pictures.
I hope you enjoy giving it a go. Have a great summer.
For a write up on the full garden reno, click here.