Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

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  source: Lauren Friedman

I’m having a close friend over to eat at my home this Sabbath. We are both vegetarians, and neither of us wanted to cook, so we decided to create an (almost) authentic Middle Eastern Mezze platter. Since we live in Israel, and the stores here have tons of ready made (and cheap) mezze available, this was a quick and easy option for us.

What are mezze? Mezze are a collection of small salads, dips and relishes commonly served in Middle Eastern countries as a type of appetizer. There are usually at least 5 or 6 dishes, and they are usually cold. Mezze generally show up at quality restaurants, weddings, and at-home formal dinners.

Since we are eating the mezze for the entire meal, we decided to go a little nuts, and we served 21 dishes.

Here’s what we served:

Breads

pita bread

rolls

whole, uncut rye bread

crackers

Dips

olive dip

olive oil with crushed garlic

techina

hummos with spicy crushed peppers

olive oil with zatar

Relishes

olives

pickles

Salads

potato salad

cole slaw

mushroom salad

corn salad

carrot salad (2 kinds)

veggie salad

Turkish salad

beet salad

eggplant salad

Dessert was a selection of Turkish sweets very similar to baklava. They have a layered crust and are stuffed with sugar syrup and pistachios, almonds or walnuts.

source: Hisham Assaad

I already had all of the dips, breads and relishes in the house as staples. My friend and I split the tiny containers of salads and she also bought the dessert. The salads cost about $2.00 US dollars each and I have no idea what my friend payed for the pastries. If you use plenty of bread, like we do, this meal will feed 12 people, with leftovers.

By the way, there are a lot of variations in mezze platters. My father-in-law serves broccoli salad, cole slaw, potato salad, lox and herring. My sister-in-law serves hard boiled eggs with fried onion, pickles, potato salad, hummos, techina and a dill/mayonnaise dip. My favorite restaurant serves garlic olive oil, hummos, techina, sun-dried tomato dip and bean dip. I usually serve broccoli salad, cole slaw, hummos and crackers, baked garlic with challah, and a vegetable salad.

source: capitu (ou marcela)

If your interested in making your own mezze platters, here are some guidelines.

  1. Any kind of easy salad, dip or relish will do. Choose your own favorites.
  2. Keep the dishes simple. Most of the salads feature only one vegetable with some kind of sauce or dressing.
  3. Go for variety, not quantity. Unless you are having a large crowd, go for the smallest containers you can find.
  4. Take a look at your local Jewish deli. Jewish delis often have mezze available (though they aren’t often called by that name).

For instructions on making homemade mezze, please see my article called Mezze Recipes.

If you decide to make your own Mezze email me with your menu. I’d love to hear what you served.

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