• World Cuisine 
 

Lebanese mezze

Lebanese mezze
Well known to those who are familiar with Lebanese cuisine, mezze are a selection of small dishes to enjoy during celebrations or family gatherings. It's a kind of buffet for all the family to enjoy and ideal for summer meals: delicious, refreshing and hard to resist.
Get out your ramekins!
Each dish is presented in small quantities so small dishes are required - forget your big salad bowls and get out your small dishes, ramekins, bowls and nice plates.
Choose good bread
Traditional loaves of bread are fine for barbeques but traditionally, mezzes are eaten with Lebanese flat bread which is good for scooping and mopping up any food without slipping it on the table or your clothes! Use any type of Arab bread or pitta bread. If you don’t want to serve bread with your mezze, you can of course use a fork or a spoon.
Select your recipes!
Unless you’re cooking for a Christening or a wedding you need to restrict the number of dishes you make, because a mezze can include up to 100 specialities!
Stuffed vine leaves
Vine leaves (sold in exotic supermarkets), 500g minced meat, 250g rice, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
To make the stuffing mix the meat, the washed rice, 4 tablespoons of water, salt and pepper. Wash the vine leaves with cold water. Garnish each leaf with a tablespoon of the stuffing, fold the edges and roll tightly. Place the rolls in a pan, add a few full garlic cloves and cover with water. Leave to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot.
Tabbouleh
2 bunches of flat leaf parsley, 4 tomatoes, 1 bunch of mint, 2 tablespoons of bulgur (semolina) wheat, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.
Finely chop the parsley, tomatoes and mint. Add the bulgur wheat and mix. Just before serving, sprinkle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can only keep tabbouleh in the fridge for two days.
Hummus
500g chickpeas, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 or 2 lemons, cream or sesame oil, olive oil and paprika.
Soak the chickpeas in cold water the night before. The next day, cook them in 2 litres of salted cold water on a medium heat for 1hour and 30 minutes. Drain and mix them with crushed garlic, the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of cream or sesame oil. Sprinkle with olive oil and paprika.
Aubergine caviar
1 grilled aubergine, 2 cloves of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cut the aubergine in half lengthways, place the two halves on a greased dish or greaseproof paper, season the flesh with salt and pepper and sprinkle with olive oil. Grill for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat until a knife sinks easily into the flesh of the aubergine. To make the caviar, scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Peel and crush the garlic very finely. Mix the two together with a fork and add olive oil a drizzle at a time, as you do to make a mayonnaise.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice.
Falafel
300g peeled broad beans, 100g chickpeas, 50g flour, coriander, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 onion, ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, spices (cumin, chilli, paprika, tumeric etc.), salt and oil.
The night before, soak the beans and chickpeas in cold water. The next day, mix them with the onion, parsely and chopped coriander. Add the garlic, flour, bicarbonate, salt and your spices of choice (careful how much you put in!). Make into balls and flatten to make little cakes. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the cakes on both sides. Serve hot.
Cheese parcels
1 roll of puff or filo pastry, 200g fresh goat’s cheese, 1 onion, butter, parsley, mint, salt and pepper.
Cook the onion in butter, finely chop the parsely and mint. Mix the cheese, chopped onion and herbs. Cut the pastry into rectangles and stuff with the cheese with herbs. Roll the rectangles into cigar shapes, cook in a hot oven for 15 minutes (180°C, Gas Mark 6). If using filo pastry, soak in melted butter before cooking.
Spinach turnovers
Shortcrust pastry, 1 kg fresh spinach, 1 onion, olive oil, lemons, salt and pepper.
Chop the spinach and onion and mix with the juice of 2 or 3 lemons and 150ml oil. Season with salt and pepper. Unroll the pastry and cut into round shapes using a large cutter. Place a teaspoonful of the stuffing in each piece and close in the shape of little pyramids. Bind the edges together by pinching strongly. Bake in an oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C, Gas Mark 6.
Moujaddara (tomato purée)
400g lentils (green or red), 50g rice, 2 big onions, olive oil.
Finely chop the onions and fry in olive oil until brown.
Heat the lentils in a pan of water. When they boil, add the onions and washed rice. Leave to cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Serve cold.
Kebbe
350g bulgur wheat, 500g minced meat (lamb or mutton), 2 big onions, 100g pine nuts, cinnamon and salt.
Wash the bulgur and let it inflate in tepid water. Brown the chopped onion, the pine nuts and 250g of the meat. Drain the bulgur and mix with the remaining meat.
In a pie dish, layer the cooked meat and bulgur and top with the remaining meat. Pack down well and draw a few diamond shapes with a knife on the top. Cook for 20 minutes at 180°C, Gas Mark 6. There shouldn’t be any juice in the slits.
Chawarma
750g chicken breast or lamb, 1 onion, 3 tablespoonfuls grated nutmeg, 4 cloves, 2 tablespoons chawarma spice (available in exotic supermarkets), salt.
Cut the meat into slices, mix with the oil and spices. Marinade for several hours in the fridge. Brown the chopped onion and meat in a pan for 15 minutes.
Published by Sarah Horrocks
31 Oct 2008
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