Who would mess with the gods? With the dining table of the cradle of civilization?
Well, that would be the 5 Star Foodie Makeover Cooking Group. This month we’re challenged to put our spin on an item for a traditional meze table.
To begin, let’s imagine we’re in Athens and we’ve just returned from climbing that really BIG hill to view the Acropolis, as I did a few years ago. OK, now we’re sitting in a taverna in La Plaka, the breeze is blowing, bouzuki music is playing and we’re sharing wine and a table full of mezes. But not just traditional mezes, we’re sharing 5 Star Foodie Makeover mezes.
The tradition of the meze is twofold: it complements and enhances the taste of drinks (wines, ouzo, raki, etc.) and it provides a forum for a social gathering. A meze is not considered a meal course like an appetizer (although they are often served as appetizers). Rather, it represents a separate eating experience. A meze can be hot or cold, spicy or savory, and often salty. It is a dish that is served alone or with other dishes. <Think tapas. Source: greekfood.about.com
Souvlaki is more ‘street food’ than meze … a succulent skewer of marinated meats often folded into a large pita with grilled tomatoes, onions and/or peppers, and tzatziki sauce. It’s large, juicy, messy and delicious!
For the makeover, I decided to downsize the pita and consequently all the other ingredients and create a dish appropriate for the meze table. Instead of grilled tomatoes and onions, I wanted to add a fresh element so by mincing (instead of chunking) traditional Greek salad ingredients, I created a ‘salsa’ topping. And, then I thought “let’s have a little more fun”. Tzatziki is yummy, but tzatziki X 3 is even yummier.
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I began with a small pork tenderloin cut into little cubes which I marinated with olive oil, lemon juice, s+p and oregano for a couple of hours. (It was ultimately pan fried on high heat.)
Meantime, I prepared the accompaniments.
Tzatziki: yogurt, shredded cucumber, dill, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice + zest, s+p.
By adding pureed fresh spinach and chopped Kalamata olives to the traditional tzatziki mix, I created 3 choices. (My favorite was the Kalamata.)
Pita: rounds of Greek pita were cut to fit into a greased muffin mold and baked at 375 for about 15 minutes.
Horitaki (traditional Greek country salad) consists of chunky cucumber, tomato, red onion, green pepper and an olive oil, s+p, oregano and lemon juice dressing. Mince it and you have salsa!
I think the gods will be doing the Zorba happy dance after Friday’s round-up! To see the other dishes on the meze table, please visit 5 Star Foodie
on Friday, July 27. Thanks again to Natasha and Laz for dreaming up these fun challenges.
NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for.
A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!