Quick. Easy. Inviting. With vibrant shades and a magnetic array of mouth-watering delights, the mezze platter makes a tasty offering to share with friends and family over the forthcoming holidays.
Simple to make, these delicious foods with their eye-catching colours are an ideal appetizer when hosting a meal, catering for both vegetarian and regular eaters.
Another blissful factor that makes the mezze platter really great, is the fact that you can buy everything (well, almost everything) as freshly pre-packed options from the well-loved South African lifestyle food brand, Mediterranean Delicacies. With today’s hectic lifestyle, this makes for one less task to add onto that ‘to do’ list. Instead, you get to focus on making a great presentation without trying to find those elusive extra hours in the kitchen.
So how do you go about putting together the perfect mezze platter? Costas Vayanos, CEO of Mediterranean Delicacies and chef extraordinaire believes that each platter has its own individual stamp. “When it comes to the mezze platter, I love experimenting with new taste combinations. Each platter has its own distinct look, taste and feel.”
There may be many possible variations out there but the main foundation remains more-or-less the same. Here are six inspirations to help get you into mezze master chef mode:
1. Choosing the dish
The culture behind the mezze platter is sharing delicious food with good friends and family. So, think plenty. There are many ways to serve your platter: a large plate encourages everyone to tuck in, creating a more intimate, inclusive atmosphere. Smaller plates can be included on the platter, but somehow, having the food on one main display encourages an informal, friendly ambience – think plenty and intimate. Find the largest tray or platter you have. This works well for 8 – 10 people. If your guest list goes beyond those numbers, you can always make more platters to accommodate more people.
2. Where to start
Vegetables make a good starting point. Greek salad is always popular, incorporating many of the mezze ingredients such as feta cheese, olives, capers. If you are pressed for time you can use your secret recipe AKA a delicious pre-packed option like the Mediterranean Delicacies Salad Mix.
Vegetables are an essential part of a mezze platter. Slice up vegetables, crudités style. These healthy foods can be tasty on their own or with a salad dressing. They are also perfect accompaniments to the dips; the ultimate trademark of the mezze platter. Coming in a variety of shades and textures, vegetables are an ideal way of adding to the overall temptation of the dish.
Humus is undoubtedly the queen of all dips. Starting off with the original humus, Mediterranean Delicacies now offer humus in a selection to suite every palette: Mediterranean Delicacies Original; Red Pepper Humus, Jalapeño Humus, Peri Peri Humus, Smoked Humus, Roasted Seed Humus and even Avocado Humus (you may have noticed: we take our humus seriously!). Other savoury dips include Taramosalata, Tzitziki, Herb & Feta, Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Olive Tapenade and even Mediterranean Delicacies Biltong Dip.
This is an important part of the mezze platter experience. Breads come in a delightful variety – from sourdough to pita to breadsticks. Other delightful options include ciabatta bread with cheese, French baguette with Taramosalata, focaccia bread with humus and health bread with Herb & Feta dip.
5. Additional mezze must-haves
Mediterranean dolmades, Greek or Danish feta, grilled artichokes, brown pickled onions and grilled asparagus. Patés such as chicken liver, smoked salmon or smoked snoek make delightful additions. Increase tantalising choices by including small bowls of pickled fish and melt-in-your-mouth trout terrine or angelfish terrine. Skewered herb mackerel cut into wedges and rolled smoked salmon add a welcome dimension of luxury. These can all be arranged in different containers as part of the platter, placing contrasting colours next to each other for greater visual impact.
6. The Mezze Platter Display
As visual experience impacts on our gastronomic experience, presentation plays a significant role, becoming an invitation to indulge in the tasty offering.
It is ideal to use a beautiful white plate, perhaps with an unusual shape or with interesting pattern detail. White works well as a contrasting background to the different colours of the mezze food. Other containers which also provide an inviting look include a flat bread board or a wooden dish.
Whatever your choice, it is a good idea to use a large platter with smaller bowls, creating places of interest in different areas of the platter, leading the eye both with the positioning and aesthetics which further highlight the delicious mezze offerings.
Start with 2 – 3 humus dips, one near each corner of the plate. As Mediterranean Delicacies offers a wide choice of humus, you may want to include a group of 3 different containers of humus in each corner.
Next, focus on the central area of the platter. Use cored peppers – green, red and yellow for the centre. This adds to the colourful effect while also providing an ideal place for other dips or even cream cheese mixed with Mediterranean Delicacies Marinated Sundried Tomatoes.
Group little white bowls on the parameter of the platter. These can be filled with different dips or little snacks like dolmades or olives and feta cheese. It is a good idea to use contrasting colours to add to the attraction of the dish. Assemble the remaining ingredients on the platter.
“Mezze is best served fresh,” advises Vayanos. Start making your platter an hour before your guests arrive. If you have more than one platter, invite friends or family to help. After all, sharing is the very nature of the mezze platter.
“People meet as they gather around the platter, indulging in the splendour of different tastes. This facilitates sharing of stories with guests enjoying the heaped platter of mezze favourites, the perfect accompaniment to a memorable time out,” concludes the Mediterranean Delicacies CEO