Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Ready and Waiting in Your Fridge: Meze

Written by Adriana Lucci

When I first moved out of my parents’ house I imagined myself taking the time to concoct luscious, savory dinners most nights of the week and sharing these dinners with friends on my days off. After realizing that life gives us little free time and money, I began to rethink the way I cook and eat. The dishes I turn to again and again are those that are quick and can sit in my fridge for a couple of days if need be. Better yet, all of the recipes here can be eaten cold—even straight out of Tupperware if you want to avoid a pile of dirty dishes in the sink.


Meze, a series of small snacks (similar to Spanish tapas), is on the menus of many Greek, Lebanese, and Turkish restaurants. In the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, meze is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or at the beginning of a large meal, almost always with pita or another flatbread. Though the purpose of these recipes is for cheap, healthy, convenient eating, you can easily make this a dinner party by serving the dishes below with olives, lamb/beef/chicken/tofu kebabs, and a chopped salad with tomato, cucumbers, red onion, feta, and shredded romaine.
After realizing that life gives us little free time and money, I began to rethink the way I cook and eat. The dishes I turn to again and again are those that are quick and can sit in my fridge for a couple of days if need be.

My Mom’s Chick Pea Salad


Ingredients:
•    1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas
•    1/3 red onion, finely choppe
•    2 tablespoons minced parsley
•    ¼ cup minced kalamata olives
•    ¼ cup Italian dressing (or another vinaigrette if you prefer)
Directions:
1.    Mince the red onion and toss with a pinch of salt; let sit for 5-10 minutes and drain the purging juices*.
2.    Drain the chickpeas, add the red onion, and toss all of your ingredients so that they are evenly distributed and coated with dressing.

Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients
•    1 large eggplant
•    ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed and sesame oil purée)
•    3 garlic cloves, minced
•    ¼ cup lemon juice (two to three lemons thoroughly juiced)
•    a pinch of ground cumin or allspice
•    salt to taste
•    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
•    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Directions
1.    Preheat oven to 375°.
2.    Prick the eggplant with a fork and roast it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft (for smoky baba ghanoush, blacken the skin on a grill for 10 minutes before baking it in the oven for about 20 minutes).
3.    Peel the eggplant and discard the skin.
4.    Place the flesh in a bowl and mash it to a paste.
5.    Add the tahini, garlic, cumin or allspice, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and add more tahini or lemon juice if necessary.
6.    Serve at room temperature.

Tzatziki*


Ingredients
•    1 cup Greek yogurt
 •  ½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
•    2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
•    1 tablespoon lemon juice
•    1 tablespoon chopped parsley or dill
•    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
•    Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
1.    Mix all of your ingredients together in a bowl.


Tabbouleh


Ingredients
•    3 tablespoons no. 1 grade bulgur wheat
•    ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
•    ½ tablespoon ground allspice
•    1 lb. plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
•    ½ cup minced parsley
•    ½ cup minced mint
•    7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•    5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Directions
1.    Pour the bulgur into a small bowl and cover with ½ cup hot water. Let soften for about 10 minutes, drain, and set aside.
2.    Sweat the red onions as instructed in the chickpea salad recipe above.
3.    Mix together the drained bulgur, onions, tomatoes, parsley, mint, allspice, oil, and lemon juice.
4.    Stir and season with salt.
5.    Serve at room temperature.

* This process, called sweating, keeps the onion from tasting too sulfurous, and lessens the aftertaste that makes many averse to red onion.
*Tzatziki straddles the line between sauce and salad. It can be used as an accompaniment to kebabs or be eaten on its own. If you’re using Tzatziki as a sauce, it might be better to shred rather than chop your cucumber, but that is up to your discretion.

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