Snacks, Vegetables, Cheese

A Holiday Mezze Spread

Mezze Spread | www.hungryinlove.com
Mezze Spread | www.hungryinlove.com
Marinated Carrots | www.hungryinlove.com

Who's getting ready to host a party? I'm off duty this year but if I was it'd look like this. I've had mezze on the brain since my birthday last month. My fam and I went to one of my most favorite places in Cambridge, Sofra Bakery + Cafe, and ordered about three quarters of the menu. If you live within walking, driving, or flying distance I recommend you make a date to get your tush over there. (Pro tip: bring friends who are down to share. You're going to want it all.) Turkish, Lebanese, and Greek flavors get friendly on the menu and the results are otherworldly. I have not strolled through a bazaar with a fork but I imagine it would taste like this cafe.

Of all the feasting to be done at Sofra, the mezze plate is what really makes my heart flutter. Mezze simply means a sampling of small dishes - cheeses, spreads, salads + vegetables. A brightly hued platter of contrasting textures and flavors paired with warm bread might be my favorite way to eat. It was high time I attempted to compose my own. The brilliant mind behind Sofra, Ana Sortun, has kindly shared many of her secrets in her cookbook, Spice. The beets + yogurt and whipped feta are both renditions of Ana's recipes though I've made slight modifications to mix up flavor profiles and make prep less time-intensive.

There is nothing particularly holiday-y about this spread, except that it lends itself very well to a party. Not only can you make everything ahead, you should. The flavors will become more vibrant overnight and then you can tackle your party day to-do list (take out of fridge, let come to room temperature) with feet up and a glass of wine in hand.

PS - I gave myself an early Christmas present this week and rolled out a new word mark for the site. What do you think? The font is called 'smitten' which is appropriate because I am!

Beets + Yogurt | www.hungryinlove.com
Olives with Thyme + Orange | www.hungryinlove.com
Fried Pine Nuts | www.hungryinlove.com
Whipped Feta | www.hungryinlove.com
Marinated Carrots | www.hungryinlove.com
Beets + Yogurt | www.hungryinlove.com

Beets + Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. beets
  • 8 oz. strained yogurt (labneh, yogurt cheese, or full fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • olive oil + nigella seeds for garnish

Prep

  • Boil beets until easily pierced with a fork; remove from water and allow to cool (cooking time will vary based on size of your beets)
  • When beets are cool enough to handle, massage skins off under running water and discard
  • Using a box grater, finely grate beetroot (This is messy! Set you grater atop wax paper or another surface to protect your table or countertop)
  • Mix grated beets with yogurt, lemon juice, mint, honey, salt + pepper until well blended
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving
  • Serve at room temperature garnished with a drizzle of olive oil + nigella seeds

 

Cumin Marinated Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. maras pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Prep

  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil
  • Boil carrots until cooked through but not mushy (about 5-7 minutes)
  • While carrots are cooking use a mortar and pestle to mash garlic, maras, cumin, and salt into a paste
  • Drain carrots and place in bowl
  • Toss with garlic-spice paste, lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil until well coated
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving
  • Serve at room temperature

 

Whipped Feta with Mint + Lemon

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. feta (ideally sheep's milk or goat's milk)
  • 2 Tbs. half + half (milk or cream may substitute)
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. mint, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Tbs. pine nuts

Prep

  • In a food processor blend feta, half + half, lemon zest and mint on high speed until feta is smooth and fluffy (about 1 minute)
  • Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate before serving to all flavors to meld
  • When ready to serve fry pine nuts in a skillet with a glug of olive oil over medium high heat; stir constantly so as not to burn
  • Bring feta to room temperature and top with toasted pine nuts

 

Warm Olives with Orange + Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Kalamata olives
  • 6-8 strips orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Prep

  • Toss olives, orange zest, thyme, and olive oil in a bowl
  • When ready to serve preheat oven to 375
  • Transfer olives to an oven-safe dish and heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes

 

Za'tar Flatbread

Ingredients

  • Dough for 1 pizza
  • 2 Tbs. za'tar spice blend
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Prep

  • Place a pizza stone in the oven + preheat oven to 500 degrees
  • Mix za'tar spice with olive oil and salt
  • Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness on a pizza board
  • Pierce dough all over with the tines of a fork
  • Brush olive oil + spice mixture all over dough right up to the edge of the flatbread
  • Transfer dough to pizza stone and bake 6-8 minutes (until edges are browned and dough is crisp)
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool
  • Cut into thin strips for dipping
  • Store leftover flatbread in a resealable plastic bag