Meatless Monday - A Greek Meze Feast!

>> Monday, April 19, 2010

Do you know what a meze is?  A meze (pronounced meh-ZEH) is like a Greek tapa.  They're little bites that taken together make a meal.  Greek food is full of wonderful vegetarian mezethes.  Serve a few together and you have a fabulous meatless meal!

I did just that this past weekend.  My husband is a freak when it comes to Greek food.  He loves it...craves it, which is really too bad since we live in meat and potato country with nary a Greek restaurant to be found.  I like a good challenge when I have the time and inclination, so I set out to give him a homemade Greek meze feast.

I made all of these for one grand meal, but you could take one of these mezethes and make it a centerpiece of a good meal.  They were all fabulous and well received.  Even my picky son tried and liked pretty much everything.  (A major victory!  We happened to catch him at an adventurous moment.)

Without further we go!

Dolmades (aka stuffed grape leaves), falafel, flatbread, and tabbouleh.  Dips, olives, feta cheese, and basmati rice were added after the picture.

First up, dolmades or stuffed grape leaves.  I used Emeril's recipe as my base, but made a few changes in how it was cooked.  This was my first time making dolmades.  I'm not a huge fan of dolmades in general, but my husband thought these were great (and even I thought they were ok).  *Recipe at end of post*

I made tzatziki for dipping.  I don't think that this is a terribly authentic tzatziki as it's my twist on a friend's interpretation of tzatziki, but it is very good!  *Recipe at end of post*

I used Tyler Florence's Tabbouleh recipe without any changes.  It was very good.  A tip I read elsewhere said to stick to curly parsley.  Italian parsley can be too tough for this parsley salad.

I turned to my own falafel and hummus recipes.  They hit the spot every time.

Instead of pitas, I made a flatbreadThis recipe for flatbread from Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking is fabulous and easy.  I make a double batch to get eight pieces of flatbread.  The flatbread can be eaten straight or filled with various mezethes to make an impromptu sandwich.

Also on the plate, basmati rice with pine nuts, some kalamata olives, and some crumbled feta cheese to round out the meal.

Do you have any favorite mezethes?  

olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup basmati rice, cooked
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 TBSP minced mint
2 lemons, juiced
1 (8 oz) jar of grape leaves
broth (chicken or vegetable) or water to cover
2 TBSP olive oil

In a large pan, heat a couple of TBSP of olive oil.  Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and pine nuts and saute for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl  and allow to cool slightly.  Add the rice, salt, raisins, mint and juice from 1 lemon and mix well.  Set aside.

Blanch the grape leaves in boiling water for a couple of minutes and then quickly cool in cold water.  Cut the stem from each grape leaf as needed.

To assemble the dolmades, place 2 to 3 tsp of rice filling near the stem end of the leaf.  Fold and foll the leaf into a small package.  (See this link for an excellent demonstration of how to wrap dolmades.) 

Place the dolmades in a large Dutch oven seam side down.  Stack them if necessary.  Pour the remaining lemon juice and 2 TBSP of olive oil over the dolmades.  Cover with a heavy plate and add water and/or broth to cover to the level of the plate.  (Note:  The plate is very important.  Dolmades not weighted down by a  plate will unwrap while cooking.  I used a plate and put a mug full of water on top for extra weight.)  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve at room temperature.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
3 TBSP tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 diced cucumber, seeds removed
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve.


Kara April 19, 2010 at 4:52 AM  

That sounds yummy! I love Greek food, but it is darned hard to find. Did your son try the dolmades? I think my kids would like all the ingredients in the filling, but I feel like the presentation would be a non-starter for them.

cathy April 19, 2010 at 6:16 AM  

Kara - He actually did try the dolmades! Any other day and he would have snubbed it all, but that night he ate half a dolmade and said he liked it. We let my daughter eat the filling and skip the grape leaf.

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Zaziki is my all time favorite. Easy to make and just delicious. Especially with home made bread.

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Aubrey West August 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM  

I've never heard about meze before. Thanks for the great and indeed looks healthy food recipes and of course for the added knowledge about meze.

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