The meze-style spread—small plates, dips, and salads meant to be shared as an appetizer course or light meal—is common throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East and one of our favorite ways to eat.
Bread is the heart of a meze meal. Homemade pita is easy, and much better than most of what you can buy. It’s great grilled with za’atar, a spice blend of wild thyme, tangy sumac, and toasted sesame seeds ubiquitous in the Middle East.
Dips are one of the main types of meze. Everyone is familiar with hummus. The creamy chickpea puree is a staple in the Middle East. Other classic dips include baba ghannouj—made from mashed grilled eggplant—and labaneh—a tart yogurt like cheese.
For hot meze, kebabs rule. Kafta kebabs are made of ground meat. Our Lebanese kafta are made of ground chuck and studded with sun-dried tomatoes and aleppo peppers. Our Persian ground meat and onion kebabs are similar, made with ground lamb and sirloin. Kebabs are also often made with chunks of meat, as in our pork or chicken kebabs.
Vegetables feature heavily in meze. No table is complete without tabbouleh—finely chopped fresh parsley and mint bathed in fruity extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, also try fried artichokes and turnips marinated in yogurt.