If you think the colorful snack board suppers flooding Instagram and Pinterest are new on the scene, think again. Folks throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East have been doing these snacky set-ups for generations, only they call it mezze.
That’s right—what tapas are to Spain (and snack boards are to Instagram), mezze is to places like Greece, Turkey, North Africa, and parts of the Middle East.
What is a Mezze Platter?
Mezze (or meze) is an assortment of small dishes eaten as appetizers or a light meal. Its contents vary by region, but the concept of grazing on a board filled with savory goodies remains the same.
Dips and spreads, such as hummus, yogurt, and baba ganoush are commonplace. You might also find muhammara, a red pepper and walnut spread that’s packed with flavor without being too spicy. Some type of bread, such as pita or lavash, is standard, along with things like olives, cheeses, tabbouleh, fresh and pickled vegetables, and fruits.
How to Make a Mezze Platter at Home
If this all sounds too exotic, not to worry. It’s easy to assemble a mezze platter at home using ordinary supermarket ingredients. I aim for a combination of flavors and textures: creamy, crunchy, fresh, pickled, dried, savory, and sweet.
My general rules of thumb, depending on how many people you’re serving, is to have two to three dips or spreads, one cheese, a few fresh vegetables, one to two pickled items, fresh or dried fruit (or both), and bread. Here’s a step-by-step:
- Start with couple of spreads, such as hummus, baba ganoush, yogurt, and muhammara. You can make your own or find store-bought options.
- Add a favorite cheese. Feta is widely available and tasty with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of fresh or dried herbs.
- Include flavorful olives or another pickled vegetable, such as artichoke hearts or peppers.
- Cut up raw vegetables that are good for dipping, such as cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, fennel, and radishes.
- Include a suitable bread to scoop up all the goodies, such as pita or lavash. These are delicious when lightly brushed with olive oil and either warmed in the oven or on a grill.
- Add dried fruits, such as dates, figs, or apricots, or fresh fruits, such as grapes, melon, or pears.
- Set out a stack of napkins to manage messy hands.
Mezze Short Cuts
The beauty of mezze is that there is no exact formula for what goes on your platter, in what ratio, and how much. Anything goes, if you ask me. You can do it all 100 percent yourself, right down to the homemade yogurt, if that’s your jam.
I usually make a dip or two myself and then fill in with store-bought items. Hummus is widely available in grocery stores. You might also find other suitable spreads, such as tapenade or baba ganoush. Hit the olive bar at Sprouts or Whole Foods for pickled goodies and pick up pre-cut veggies or baby carrots to save even more time.
These are just ideas to get you started. You can always fling open the refrigerator and start foraging for little bits of this and that. It’s an excellent way to clean out the fridge!
Make Ahead Tips and Serving Suggestions
Mezze is a great make-ahead meal, since you can assemble and refrigerate most everything well before serving. It’s suitable for a family dinner or to serve company.
This muhammara keeps beautifully for up to a week in the refrigerator. I’d suggest you pull everything from the fridge a good 30 minutes before serving, so it comes a little closer to room temp.
Last minute touches are just a matter of pulling out your prettiest platter and piling everything on. Items such as dips, spreads, olives, and feta might do best in small dishes or ramekins. Bread, vegetables, and fruits can fill in right on your platter.