When I first met my American Greek husband, he had his American food lover head on: (excuse my punctuation – I’m used to writing recipes).
- Sandwiches with thick slices of meat between thick slices of crusty white bread
- Lots of crab, other shellfish and fish
- Italian food
- Of course Greek food – his Mom’s cooking and his Yia Yia’s cooking
- Beer – usually Bud
- Ice cream – usually vanilla and chocolate chip
Now I was about to describe my husband and what goes well with his Greek vegetarian food lover’s head: (I really didn’t encourage him to become vegetarian you know. It was his own choice and it came from his wanting me to taste what his Mom and Yia Yia (both excellent cooks) lovingly prepared for him. However, that woud mean telling you how we created the most delicious vegetarian pastitou; so good that all our meat-eating friends want us to make it for them. I’ll do that for your main course in the next article, but first you can have your starter; my recipes for these three delicious Greek vegetarian mezes (little dishes).
Feta with Mint and Garlic Ingredients
- 1/4 cup fresh mint – finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound feta cheese – drained
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Mix the mint, garlic, pepper and olive oil to form a paste in a food processor.
- Crumble the feta and add to the processor. Mix well until creamy. If necessary alter the consistency with a little more olive oil, lemon juice or feta.
- Refrigerate before serving
- 14 oz (400g) cooked chickpeas – from a can or dried, soaked overnight and boiled until soft
- 1 clove of garlic – peeled
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt approximately 1/2 teaspoon, and black pepper to taste – it is better to start with too little salt, e.g.none and add more to taste after blending
- Put the chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add more of the other ingredients as necessary to improve the taste and consistency to your liking.
- Refrigerate before serving.
Eggplant (aubergine) dip Ingredients
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/3 cup pitted green olives – chopped
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and extra oil for coating the eggplant
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 2 tablespoons grated onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pierce the eggplant in several places.
- Coat the eggplant with olive oil and place on a baking tray.
- Bake the eggplant at 350F (180C) for 45 minutes or until soft.
- Cut in half and allow to cool.
- Scoop out the pulp and place in a blender or food processor.
- Add the other ingredients and blend until creamy.
- Season to taste.
Serve the mezes with hot or toasted pitta bread. If you know a Greek shop you can serve with different Greek breads and cheeses or your favourite international bread and cheese. They go well with black and green olives, roasted almonds and walnuts, salad containing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and peppers with olive oil and vinegar dressing. All this will make a delicious meal in itself. However it can be served as a starter if you can save some room for a main course. For a heartiest lunch serve with the best soup ie Greek bean soup. For the heartiest dinner serve mezes before the pastitou.