I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s New European Series – so far I’ve seen him in Morocco, Spain and, most recently, Greece. This episode was all about simple ingredients simply put together. He went spear fishing, met up with some bee keepers and nibbled on some goats cheese with a Greek Orthodox monk.
Some of the dishes he covered were a classic Greek salad, Honey and Pistachio Cake, tasty looking kebabs, fisherman’s stew made from sea water and fresh Tuna with Lemon Sauce. All very inspiring stuff.
He also did a segment on Mezze which is a selection of small dishes and dips served in the Mediterranean and Middle East – similar to Spanish tapas. It is a particularly social way to eat and makes great party food. Below are a number of recipes from ‘Modern Mezze’ by Anissa Helou, a great book full of simple and affordable ideas. Anissa’s blog is great, while her books are well worth the investment
If you don’t fancy cooking, The Cedar Tree (opposite The Trocadero in Dublin), has a second restaurant inside it called Byblos. For €19.50, you can get the vegetarian mezze menu for two which includes baba ghanoush, tabouleh, falafel, hummus, warm pitta bread, shanklish, garlic mushrooms, muhammara, wild cucumber and fatayer.
More mezze recipes next week!
Chilli and herb dip
- 250g fresh red chilli peppers, trimmed
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 100g coriander sprigs, most of the stalk removed
- 100g flat-leaf parsley, most of the stalk removed
- 1 tsp ground cumin pinch of ground cardamom
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Halve and deseed the chillies, cut them into chunks and place in a food processor with the garlic. Whiz to chop coarsely. Add the herbs, spices, seasoning and olive oil and continue processing until you have a lightly textured paste. Use immediately, or transfer the dip to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
- 4 small Middle Eastern cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber
- sea salt
- 450g Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 2-3 tbs chopped dill
- Paprika, for sprinkling dill sprigs
- If using small cucumbers, halve lengthways and slice thinly. If you have a standard cucumber, peel, halve, deseed and grate, then salt slightly. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then squeeze to get rid of excess moisture.
- Mix the cucumber, yoghurt, garlic and dill together in a bowl. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with paprika and serve garnished with dill.
Easy grilled peppers
- 8 red peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 6 tbs good vinegar
- 1 tbs thyme leaves
- sea salt
- Preheat the grill (or barbecue). Grill the peppers, turning them to expose all sides, for about 30 minutes until the skin is charred and the peppers are soft. Lift onto a board and peel off the skin. Cut the peppers open, discard stems and seeds and slice the flesh into wide pieces. Place on a serving platter.
- Mix the garlic, vinegar and thyme leaves, saving some for garnish. Add salt to taste and pour the dressing over the peppers. Leave to stand for about half an hour. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, garnished with the reserved thyme leaves.