If you have a Greek friend and have had the chance to eat at their home, you know that their table usually has a lot of different dishes to choose from. The traditional Greek meal, which unfortunately we don't always have time to prepare and enjoy, starts with a few small (tiny really!) dishes that are served as appetizers, accompanied with ouzo or tsipouro. Then the main dish is served, usually with salad and olives and feta cheese. These appetizers are called mezé, and nowdays many Greek restaurants offer up a meal just from those. If you're ever in Greece, it's a must to try one of these restaurants!
You don't have to become too elaborate with these dishes. What's important is that they have a strong flavor, and that they are salty or sour or spicy, to complement your drink. Here are three very typical Greek mezé that you can prepare super easily. I made these the other day for my daughter's friends, as a nice tasty snack for an impromptu gathering.
This is one of my favorite dips/sauces, it has an amazing taste, it's nutritious, high in protein and it's healthy. You can eat it straight, with crackers or pita chips, dip your veggies in it, or use it as a sauce for meats. You can also make an inspired salmon-pairing sauce (keep on reading!).
The biggest secret to a tasty yogurt dip is to incorporate a lot of olive oil until a smooth, silky flavor and texture are established and the acidic yogurt taste is gone. I usually prepare it by mixing together a 250 ml container of FAGE 5% Greek yogurt (the 2% works equally well), 4-5 tbsps of Tragano Greek Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a clove of garlic (crushed), and a touch of salt. With that as a base, you can add diced cucumber and dill and make a flavorful tzatzíki, the Greek mezé that we eat with everything in the summer. Add some chopped sea fennel, lemon zest from one lemon and the juice of half the lemon, and create a very refreshing sauce that goes wonderfully with fish, especially grilled salmon. Or you can just add some of Sparoza’s cooking blends - my personal favorite is the 15 Greek Herbs and Seeds, for an even more flavorful dip for your veggies, crackers and pita chips.
I feel like eggplants are so underused here in the States, but in Greece they are the stars of the summer. We eat them in the famous moussaká, grilled or fried, baked, cooked with other veggies and tomatoes, stuffed with meat, the list goes on and on. The typical eggplant mezé is a simpler purée of grilled eggplant and it is eaten in small bowls or plates as part of bigger assortment of mezé.
Wash your eggplants and poke them with a fork. Put them under the grill until the skin becomes dark and detaches from the pulp. Once they are cooked, you cut them in half and you spoon the pulp into a bowl. Add a clove of garlic (crushed), lemon, chopped flat parsley, and 3-4 tbsp of Tragano Greek Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix everything together until you have a nice spread to enjoy with your other mezé. If you don't feel like making your own from scratch, try Elli & Manos Aubergine and Peppers Greek Flavor Burst, a tasty, clean alternative without a hint of additives or chemicals.
Tyrokafterí is another favorite that you can eat on its own or pair with grilled meats or as a sandwich spread, and it is super easy to put together.
Mix with a fork a package of crumbled feta with 2-3 tablespoons of Tragano Greek Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 3-4 tablespoons of Elli & Manos Flaming Red Pepper Greek Flavor Burst (from that jar you used for last week’s trahaná recipe!). That's it - a spicy, flavorful spread that is really versatile.
I hope you will try at least one of these and enjoy with great company and a glass of wine (in case you can't find the ouzo!).
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