Mediterranean Meze

Lazy weeknights sometimes means going and grabbing some fresh pitas from the Lebanese place around the corner, whipping up a batch of hummus, adding a few other things and calling it dinner.  We call it meze to be fancy.

Really, any excuse to eat hummus, black olives, stuffed grape leaves, za’atar…good enough for me!

Kalamata olives, fresh pita, za’atar pita, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, cucumber and carrot.

Za’atar is a wonderful, flavourful Mediterranean spice blend; oregano, thyme, sumac, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sea salt.  It’s delicious on a pita that has been brushed with a fruity olive oil and popped in an oven until brown.

It took me years to try stuffed grape leaves (otherwise known as dolma) and now I love them!  These babies are stuffed with rice, mint and lemon and served warm.    

Hummmuuuussss.  Topped with smoked paprika.

As far as I’m concerned, the Veganomicon hummus recipe is the hummus recipe.  There’s no point in making another.

A Hummus Recipe
From Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup water, more or less for desired thickness
Pinch of ground cumin or ground coriander (optional)
Salt and pepper
Paprika (preferably Hungarian smoked paprika)
Place half the chickpeas and olive oil in a food processor.  Pulse several times, stopping to stir with a rubber spatula.  When the mixture is almost pureed and creamy, add the remaining chickpeas and oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin and a little salt.  Turn on your food processor and puree until creamy and light.  Season with salt and pepper; add more lemon juice to taste if necessary.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill for 30 minutes before serving.
Best served with a sprinkle of paprika, a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped parsley.
– Crystal

Mediterranean Inspired

We had a lot of running around to do today so we made a pretty simple dinner.  Roasted broccoli and peppers (trying to use up what we had in the fridge), roasted asparagus with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, chickpeas tossed with olive oil, dill and salt and pepper, olives, and fresh pitas and hummus.

– Crystal

Middle Eastern Cuisine

The Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario features food from around the world; Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Polish, Serbian, and Middle Eastern, to name a few. This weekend we stopped at Nate’s for the falafel plate (as seen below) and a side order of vine leaves, or grape leaves (pictured above). This ended up being way too much food for us to eat.
For the unfamiliar, the grape leaves are stuffed with rice and spices. Weird spices, too. There has to be some mint in there. They are then marinated in a brine, and eaten warm. They are delicious, but definitely an acquired taste for the Western palette. The falafel plate includes not only deep fried falafel, but some garlic hummus, roasted potatoes, and a lentil dish which we think was Mujadarra. Delicious lunch.


Sunday Lunch

Pita chips – fresh pitas cut to size and pan fried in a little oil until golden brown, then placed on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some oil before serving.
Homemade hummus – a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, tahini (to taste), 2 cloves garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and a little water in the food processor and blend, blend, blend.  Top with smoked paprika for a special treat.