Greek mezze recipes

fava | gigantes | skordalia | tzatziki

A perfect night: watch the sun set on Hydra; walk barefoot down to port along the inland road, encountering cats and donkeys on the way; land at one of the many tavernas hidden down the little cobblestone streets; and enjoy a lengthy meal of delicious Greek mezze. 

Mezze (or meze) is a selection of small dishes to enjoy with drinks or before a meal, or as its own meal - which is how I like it. Served both hot and cold, popular Greek mezze dishes include olives, melitzanosalata (eggplant salad), saganaki (fried cheese), and skordalia (potato and garlic spread). Here, I'm highlighting a few of my favorites: gigantes plaki,fava,walnut skordalia with beet salad, and tzatziki. 

Gigantes plaki is giant beans baked in a tomato sauce. Fava isn't actually made of fava beans - it's a dish of pureed yellow split peas that's often used as a dip for bread, though I like it on its own. Walnut skordalia, a spread of walnuts and garlic, is a play on traditional potato skordalia (similar to mashed potatoes). I first tried it with beets at a taverna on Hyrda and love it as a nutty alternative to the potato version, especially when paired with beet salad. And while I enjoyed the tzatziki on my very first trip to Greece, since then I stopped eating dairy, so here I've adapted a vegan version.

Without further ado, a Greek feast:

 
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Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans) Recipe

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Ingredients:
  • 1 pound gigantes (giant beans), soaked overnight and drained
  • ⅓ cup Idyll extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion and 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 28 oz canned or boxed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Idyll sweet vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dried herbs (mix of oregano, thyme, parsley) and 2 tbsp fresh herbs (any of those same herbs will do, as will dill)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. put the beans (soaked overnight) in a large saucepan and cover with water (about an inch over)
  2. bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer for 40 to 50 minutes
  3. when the beans are starting to soften but not soft enough to eat, remove from heat but do not yet drain
  4. while the beans are cooking, prepare sauce by sauteing chopped onion and garlic in olive oil on medium-low heat for a minute then adding tomato, dried herbs, ¼ cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to simmer for about 10 mins
  5. add drained beans to prepared sauce and mix, then pour the whole mixture into a baking dish with another ¼ cup olive oil
  6. bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours, adding water if necessary during cooking if beans appear too dry
  7. when beans are tender, remove from oven and add sweet vinegar and fresh herbs then return to bake for 10 minutes
  8. serve with a generous drizzle of olive oil
  9. *recipe inspiration from Nancy Harmon Jenkins

 
 
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Greek Fava Recipe

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Ingredients:
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 2 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ~5 cups water
  • 2-3 tbps Idyll thyme vinegar
  • ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp Idyll olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste, Idyll fleur de sel for finishing
  • capers, chopped red onion, fleur de sel, and olive oil to garnish

Instructions:
  1. rinse the split peas with water
  2. heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot at medium-high heat, add chopped onions and garlic, and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent
  3. add peas and mix well with onions and garlic, then add ⅓ cup olive oil and enough water to cover the peas (a couple inches over)
  4. turn heat to medium-low, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes
  5. while cooking, remove any foam from the surface with a slotted spoon and add water if needed
  6. once the peas have absorbed all the water and are soft enough to mash, transfer them to the food processor (if you don't have one you can mash by hand for a less smooth texture)
  7. add thyme vinegar and a splash more olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth, adding more salt and pepper if needed
  8. let the puree cool for an hour or two and serve at room temperature with a garnish of capers, chopped red onions, and a generous drizzle of olive oil
  9. *recipe inspiration from My Greek Dish

 
 
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Walnut Skordalia Recipe

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Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of walnuts (dry roasted on a hot pan for about 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup day old stale bread
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp Idyll sweet vinegar
  • ½ cup Idyll extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. dip the bread in water and remove it immediately
  2. put bread, garlic, walnuts, and sweet vinegar in food processor and blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. with the food processor running slowly add olive oil until a fine paste forms, without letting it get runny
  4. add salt and pepper to taste, mix well
  5. serve at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil on top, as a side for beet salad
  6. *recipe inspiration from Souvlaki for the Soul

 
 
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Simple Beet Salad Recipe

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Ingredients:
  • 7 small-medium beets
  • 2 tbsp Idyll extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Idyll sweet vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper and Idyll fleur de sel

Instructions:
  1. boil beets for 30-40 minutes, until cooked through the middle
  2. once beets have cooled, peel them and slice into rounds
  3. place beets on a bed of fresh arugula and drizzle with oil and vinegar, finishing with pepper and fleur de sel
  4. serve alone or with walnut skordalia
 
 
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Vegan Tzatziki Recipe

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Ingredients:
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 1 14 oz package tofu
  • 1 tbsp Idyll thyme vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup Idyll extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. combine everything in food processor and puree
  2. adjust seasonings to your liking if necessary, refrigerate and serve cold (this makes enough for a large group so halve the recipe for a smaller serving)
  3. *recipe inspiration from Green Evi

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