Here are some direct Arabic translations for you… Meze = snack, Mezze = taste, Meza = spread. A spread of tasty snacks to share? That sums up a meze platter pretty well! Dips and nibbles, breads and spreads, fruit and vegetables, olives and nuts, you’ll find them all on your perfect meze platter.
Popular in the Mediterranean, its roots lie in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean countries. Of course, such tasty spreads are big in the Mediterranean, and there are clear similarities with Spanish tapas. It is known as both meze and mezze (and pronounced meh-zay).
A mouthwatering platter is about providing lots of delicious, different, and complimentary nibbles. You want to aim for a good balance of dips, breads, crudites, cured meats and anything else you’re sharing. The great news is that the only perfect meze platter is the one that’s right for you.
Decisions, decisions… choosing your meze foods is all part of the fun! You want to be sure you have a range from different food groups. And if you want to make a vegan or vegetarian platter, it’s a breeze.
Breads – You could choose Mediterranean or Middle Eastern inspired breads such as pita, lavash or olive ciabatta. Then add some crunch with crackers or breadsticks.
Dips – Two or three delicious dips is plenty. If you’re not sure of your guests’ tastes, opt for one tomato based, a creamier option and something else. Tapenade, tzatziki, baba ganoush, hummus, labneh… there’s no shortage of ideas to choose from.
Meats – If you’re including meats, think of it as a charcuterie selection. Salami, serrano ham, and prosciutto work well. You could even add a meaty pâté.
Seafood – Sardines, anchovies, octopus… get as adventurous as you like. A selection of complimentary flavours and a range of textures is sure to be a winner.
Cheeses – Again, you want to offer a choice of textures and flavours. So mix things up with a mild, soft cheese and a strong hard one. It’s a great time to try cheeses from around the Med too. How about creamy feta, soft baby mozzarella, pungent cabrales or fruity manchego?
Vegetables – Raw veg adds crunch. (If you want elegance, try baby versions of carrot and cucumber.) But don’t forget to feature some softer textures too. Fragata Pepper Pimiento Piquillo have a smoky, sweet flavour whilst Fragata Guindillas (hot peppers) bring a touch of heat.
Fruit and nuts – Halved figs and small bunches of grapes always look beautiful on a platter (and taste great too). You could also add walnuts, almonds, or any of your favourite nuts and seeds.
Olives – Of course, olives are a fruit too. But there’s such a great choice, you might want to add a selection to your platter. As well as green or black, you could add Fragata Filled olives, filled
with such delights as garlic, anchovy, lemon and jalapeno. Or you could marinate your own Fragata Hojiblanca stoneless olives, creating a flavour just for you.
Make everything from scratch or buy it all readymade. There really is no right or wrong. It’s probably easiest to do a little bit of both. Focus on making the delights you’re confident with, or try something new. You don’t have to be Nigella to make something amazing. Marinating olives in olive oil, with handfuls of your favourite herbs is always a winner.
Eating starts with the eyes, and a beautifully laid-out platter with a rainbow of colours and textures will get everyone’s mouths watering. You can use a platter or a board, but it needs to be the right size to look full without being overcrowded. It’s good to have things in not-much- bigger-than-bitesize chunks, so cut up any breads into manageable pieces.
Start by putting dips into bowls and arrange them on your platter. Then carefully add everything else. If you place the bulkier items first, you can ‘fill in’ the spaces as you go, separating foods by colour and texture to create an attractive plate.
A meze platter shouldn’t only be for special occasions – it can make any occasion special. So although it makes the perfect spread for guests, a smaller version works brilliantly for a relaxed
family meal (for as few or as many people as you like). The Mediterranean flavours taste extra special on sunny days and lighter evenings.
Meze is about more than a fantastic selection of delicious dishes. It’s about getting together and sharing great times (as well as great food). So enjoy a spread of tasty snacks to share, and use a meze platter to create your Mediterranean moment.