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What is Meze? Intro to Small Plates

What is in a Mezze Platter?

A Mezze platter is a delicious spread of various small dishes commonly found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is often served as an appetizer or as a light meal. Mezze, which means “small plates” in Arabic, offers a delightful assortment of flavors and textures that can be enjoyed by itself or as part of an entire meal.

Typically, a Mezze platter includes an array of components that tantalize the taste buds. Crusty breads, such as pita bread or flatbreads, are a staple and perfect for scooping up the different dips and spreads. Olives and olive bar selections add a burst of salty flavor, while feta cheese provides a creamy and tangy element. The platter is further adorned with vibrant and juicy cherry tomatoes and an assortment of fresh herbs and spices, like black pepper, that enhance the flavors of the other dishes.

In addition to these elements, Mezze platters often feature dips such as hummus and tzatziki, providing creamy and flavor-packed options to complement the crusty breads. Grilled meats, such as chicken kebabs, may also be included for a more substantial dish. The Mezze platter can be customized according to personal preferences, allowing for a diverse and satisfying gastronomic experience.

Mezze is the soul of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, offering a delightful variety of small plates that cater to every taste. Whether enjoyed at a restaurant like Princess Pita in Arizona’s Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe, or put together at home, the Mezze platter is a perfect way to savor the flavors of these delicious cuisines. So pour a glass of Greek wine, gather around with friends and family, and relish in the authentic recipes and traditional flavors of a Mezze platter.

A typical mezze platter will include a variety of dishes such as:

A typical mezze platter will include a variety of dishes such as hummus, labneh, olives, cucumber spears, multi-colored cherry tomatoes, pickles, lettuce leaves, nuts, and pita chips. These flavorful and colorful foods come together to create a truly satisfying and vibrant dining experience.

Hummus, a creamy and smooth chickpea dip, is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and adds a rich and earthy flavor to the platter. Labneh, a tangy strained yogurt, offers a refreshing and creamy contrast to the other dishes. The platter is also adorned with a selection of olives, providing a burst of briny and salty goodness.

To add a touch of sweetness and brightness, multi-colored cherry tomatoes are included, delivering juicy bursts of flavor. Pickles, both sweet and tangy, provide a refreshing and crunchy element to the platter.

Lettuce leaves and nuts add freshness and a satisfying crunch, while pita chips offer a sturdy and flavorful vehicle for scooping and dipping.

To bring the flavors of the mezze platter together, drizzles of olive oil and dustings of spices, such as paprika or za’atar, are added. These little touches elevate the flavors and add a touch of Mediterranean authenticity to the dish.

Overall, a mezze platter is a delightful combination of flavors, textures, and colors that invites guests to indulge in the rich and delicious medley of Mediterranean cuisine. Princess Pita, a beloved restaurant in Arizona, particularly in Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe, offers an authentic and mouthwatering mezze platter that is perfect for sharing and savoring.

– Crusty breads

Crusty breads play a crucial role in a traditional mezze platter, offering a perfect accompaniment to the array of vibrant and flavorful dishes. These breads, like warm pita bread and sliced crusty breads, are typically placed in a basket and served on the table, inviting guests to tear off a piece and indulge in the feast.

Whether it’s the satisfying crunch of a baguette or the hearty texture of a rustic loaf, crusty breads provide a sturdy and delicious base for scooping up hummus, tzatziki, or baba ganoush. They also act as a flavorful vehicle, allowing diners to build their own bites by adding a variety of toppings, from marinated olives and feta cheese to roasted eggplant and spicy pepper tomato relish.

To ensure the highest quality, these breads can be purchased from a local store with a great selection of fresh deli offerings. Princess Pita, a renowned restaurant in Arizona, particularly Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe, is known for its authentic Mediterranean cuisine and boasts a delightful assortment of crusty breads to complement their mezze platters.

So the next time you indulge in a mezze feast, be sure to include some crusty breads to complete the experience. Their satisfying texture and ability to soak up the myriad of flavors make them an essential component of any mezze spread.

– Olives & Olive Bar

Olives are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, and their presence on a mezze platter is essential. They add a burst of flavor and complement other Mediterranean ingredients perfectly. At Princess Pita, a renowned Mediterranean restaurant with locations in Arizona, including Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe, the olive bar offers a delightful variety of olives to enhance the dining experience.

The concept of an olive bar is simple yet captivating. It allows diners to select from a wide array of olives, each with its own unique flavor profile. Whether it’s the rich and fruity taste of Kalamata olives, the buttery and mild Castelvetrano olives, or the tangy and briny Manzanilla olives, there is something to suit every palate.

On a mezze platter, olives play a crucial role in creating flavor combinations. They can be paired with other ingredients such as marinated feta cheese, roasted red peppers, or fresh herbs to create a tantalizing blend of tastes and textures. This allows diners to customize their bites and discover their favorite flavor combinations.

The popularity of olives in Mediterranean cuisine is undeniable. Their versatility and ability to add depth to any dish make them a beloved ingredient. Whether enjoyed on their own as a simple snack or incorporated into a larger spread, olives bring a touch of authenticity and sophistication to any dining experience.

Next time you visit Princess Pita, be sure to explore their olive bar and savor the taste of these Mediterranean gems.

– Feta cheese

Feta Cheese: A Staple of the Mezze Platter

When it comes to the mezze platter, few ingredients are as iconic and beloved as Feta cheese. Originating from Greece, Feta is a classic choice, typically made from sheep’s milk and soaked in brine to achieve its distinctive tangy flavor. This crumbly white cheese adds a creamy and salty note to any dish, making it a perfect addition to the meze spread.

To serve Feta the Greek way, start by placing a generous portion on a plate. The creamy texture and salty taste of the cheese will delight your palate. To enhance its flavor, drizzle some Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil over it, allowing the oil to seep into the cheese and enrich its creamy consistency. Sprinkle a pinch of Greek oregano on top to add an aromatic note that complements the cheese’s salty profile perfectly.

To complete the Feta experience, surround the cheese with plump and flavorful Kalamata Olives. These dark, meaty olives are known for their bold and briny flavor, which pairs harmoniously with the tanginess of Feta. Combining these two Greek food staples creates a delightful contrast of flavors and textures that will transport you to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean.

Whether enjoyed as part of a traditional mezze platter or as a standalone appetizer, Feta cheese brings a touch of authenticity and deliciousness to any dining experience. So assemble your favorite meze ingredients, including Feta, and savor the enticing flavors of Greek cuisine right at your table.

Note: If you happen to be in Arizona, particularly in the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe, be sure to visit Princess Pita, a renowned Mediterranean restaurant that serves delectable Greek dishes, including an exquisite Feta cheese experience that will leave you craving for more.

– Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes, with their vibrant color and burst of freshness, are a versatile ingredient that can add a delightful touch to any mezze platter. Here are a few ways you can incorporate these juicy little gems into your Mediterranean spread:

1. Bruschetta: Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, toss them with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and fresh basil. Spoon this flavorful mixture onto crusty breads, such as Princess Pita’s, for a simple and delicious bruschetta topping. The sweet and tangy tomatoes will create a burst of flavor with every bite.

2. Tomato Salad: For a refreshing addition to your mezze platter, create a simple cherry tomato salad. Combine the tomatoes with thinly sliced red onions, fresh herbs like basil or parsley, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper, and you’ll have a colorful and tasty dish that complements the other flavors on the platter.

3. Roasted Tomato Dip: Elevate your dip game by roasting cherry tomatoes until they are blistered and caramelized. Blend them with roasted garlic, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to create a rich and flavorful dip. Serve it alongside crusty breads or pita bread for dipping.

4. Caprese Skewers: Skewer cherry tomatoes together with bite-sized pieces of feta cheese and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the skewers with balsamic glaze or a sprinkle of sea salt and you have an easy and visually appealing addition to your mezze platter.

By incorporating cherry tomatoes into your mezze platter, you not only add a burst of color but also elevate the flavors with their sweet and tangy taste. Whether you use them in bruschetta, as a base for a tomato salad, in dips, or as part of a Caprese skewer, cherry tomatoes are a versatile ingredient that will surely impress your guests.

– Fresh herbs & spices (e.g., black pepper)

Fresh herbs and spices play a crucial role in enhancing the flavors of the dishes found in a mezze platter. One such essential spice is black pepper, known for its distinctive aroma and sharp heat. It adds depth and complexity to various dishes, making them more enjoyable to eat.

In a mezze platter, you’ll find a variety of fresh herbs to complement the flavorful dishes. Common herbs used include parsley, cilantro, dill, mint, and basil. These herbs bring a burst of freshness to the plate and add a vibrant pop of color.

Using fresh herbs is of utmost importance in a mezze platter. They provide a bright and aromatic element that elevates the entire meal. Their earthy and citrusy flavors balance and enhance the taste of the different small plates, creating a harmonious combination of Mediterranean flavors.

Whether it’s sprinkling chopped herbs over a roasted tomato dip or incorporating them into a flavorful tomato salad, the use of fresh herbs adds depth and complexity to each dish. They have the power to turn a simple plate of cherry tomatoes into a mouthwatering delight.

So, as you prepare your mezze platter, be sure to include a variety of fresh herbs and spices like black pepper. They will not only enhance the flavors of the dishes but also add a touch of authenticity and culinary delight to your Mediterranean feast.

– Fresh vegetables (e.g., cucumbers, bell peppers)

In a mezze platter, fresh vegetables such as cucumbers and bell peppers play a vital role in creating a delightful culinary experience. These crunchy and refreshing veggies add a burst of vibrant colors and a satisfying crunch to the plate.

Cucumbers are often sliced thinly or cut into sticks, offering a cool and refreshing texture. Their mild flavor provides a neutral base to pair with other mezze dishes. Bell peppers, on the other hand, bring a sweet and crisp element to the platter. They can be sliced or diced, adding a pop of bright colors that are visually appealing.

Including fresh vegetables in a mezze platter not only adds nutritional value but also enhances the overall texture and balance of flavors. They serve as a palate cleanser between bites of richer and more intense dishes. The combination of the fresh vegetables with the other small plates and dips creates a medley of tastes and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.

At Princess Pita, a Mediterranean restaurant located in Arizona (Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe), you can savor the authentic flavors of Greek cuisine, including a delectable mezze platter featuring an array of fresh vegetables. So, next time you’re dining out or hosting a gathering, don’t forget to include these delightful veggies to elevate your mezze experience.

– Hummus & Tzatziki dips

An essential component of an Eastern Mezze Platter is the inclusion of flavorful dips that serve as the perfect accompaniment to crusty breads and fresh veggies. Two popular options are Hummus and Tzatziki.

Hummus, a classic Mediterranean dip, is made from a blend of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Its creamy texture and nutty flavor make it a crowd favorite. Hummus can be enjoyed as a spread on pita bread or as a dip for fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks.

Tzatziki, on the other hand, is a refreshing Greek yogurt-based dip that showcases the flavors of cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon. Its cool and tangy taste perfectly complements the other mezze dishes. Tzatziki is often enjoyed alongside grilled meats or used as a dressing for salads.

Both Hummus and Tzatziki are versatile and can be enjoyed as part of a larger mezze platter or as standalone dips. They add depth and richness to the plate, allowing for a variety of flavor combinations. Whether you’re dining at Princess Pita, a renowned Mediterranean restaurant in Arizona, or preparing your own Eastern Mezze Platter at home, be sure to include these delicious dips for a truly authentic and flavorful experience.

– Grilled meats (e.g., chicken kebabs)

Grilled meats, such as chicken kebabs, are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. This delicious and flavorful dish showcases the rich flavors and aromatic spices that are characteristic of the region. The chicken is marinated in a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and various herbs and spices, which tenderize the meat and infuse it with incredible taste. Once marinated, the chicken is skewered and grilled to perfection, resulting in juicy and succulent kebabs. Grilled chicken kebabs are often served as a main course, accompanied by sides like rice, roasted vegetables, or a fresh Greek salad. The smoky char from the grill adds an extra layer of depth and complexity to the dish, making it a favorite among meat lovers. Whether enjoyed at a local Mediterranean restaurant like Princess Pita in Arizona or prepared at home, grilled meats like chicken kebabs are a delightful addition to any meal.

Traditional Dishes Found in an Eastern Mezze Platter

An Eastern Mezze Platter is a delightful spread of small plates and appetizers that make for a perfect light meal or a starter to an entire meal. It typically includes a variety of dishes with a range of flavors and textures, meant to be enjoyed with crusty breads like pita bread and accompanied by a glass of wine.

One traditional dish often found in an Eastern Mezze Platter is Ghillie Başan, a Turkish delight made from roasted eggplant, mashed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoned with salt and black pepper. This creamy and smoky dip, also known as Baba Ganoush, pairs perfectly with pita bread.

Dolma is another popular dish found in an Eastern Mezze Platter. These are grape leaves that are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of rice, fresh herbs, and spices. The dolmas are then cooked until tender and served cold. They add a burst of freshness to the mezze platter.

Borek, a savory pastry, is also a common dish found in an Eastern Mezze Platter. It consists of layers of thin pastry filled with various ingredients such as spinach and feta cheese or spiced minced meat. Borek is baked until golden and crispy and is a tasty dish that can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature.

These traditional dishes, along with many others, make an Eastern Mezze Platter a delicious exploration of the flavors and tastes of Eastern cuisine. Whether you’re trying to recreate an authentic recipe or experimenting with your own variations, an Eastern Mezze Platter is a delightful way to savor the diverse and delicious cuisine of the Mediterranean and beyond.

Traditional mezze platters may include some of the following dishes:

Traditional mezze platters are a beloved part of Eastern cuisine, and they often feature a variety of delectable dishes. One iconic dish that you’ll commonly find in a mezze platter is Ghillie Başan. This Turkish specialty is made by roasting eggplant until it’s soft and smoky, then blending it with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings like salt and black pepper. The result is a creamy and flavorful dip also known as Baba Ganoush, which pairs perfectly with crusty breads like pita.

Another staple of traditional mezze platters is Dolma, which consists of vine leaves that are stuffed with a delightful mixture of rice, fresh herbs, and aromatic spices. These stuffed vine leaves are then cooked until tender and served cold, adding a burst of freshness to the platter.

Lastly, Borek is another popular dish you’ll often find in mezze platters. These are filo pastry parcels filled with a variety of delicious ingredients such as cheese and herbs or spiced minced meat. Baked until golden and crispy, Borek is a crowd-pleasing treat that can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature.

These dishes, Ghillie Başan, Dolma, and Borek, are just a few examples of the traditional delights you can expect to find in a mezze platter. Whether you’re enjoying an authentic Eastern meal or exploring Greek cuisine, these small plates are sure to satisfy your taste buds with their rich flavors and textures. Princess Pita, a Mediterranean restaurant located in Arizona with branches in Phoenix, Mesa, and Tempe, is an excellent place to savor these traditional mezze dishes and experience the true essence of Eastern cuisine.

– Ghillie Başan (stuffed eggplant dish)

Ghillie Başan, acclaimed author and expert in Mediterranean and Eastern cuisine, presents her delicious and authentic stuffed eggplant dish. This traditional recipe hailing from Eastern cuisine is a true gem that will transport you to the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean.

Başan’s stuffed eggplant dish features tender roasted eggplants that are filled with a fragrant mixture of fresh herbs, aromatic spices, and tangy feta cheese. The eggplants are then baked until golden and soft, allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.

This dish showcases the rich culinary heritage of Eastern cuisine, with its emphasis on using fresh and seasonal produce. The combination of earthy eggplants, vibrant herbs, and tangy feta cheese creates a mouthwatering medley of flavors and textures.

Whether enjoyed as an appetizer on a mezze platter or as a light meal on its own, Ghillie Başan’s stuffed eggplant dish is sure to delight your taste buds and transport you to the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean.

– Dolma (stuffed vine leaves)

Dolma is a traditional dish that can often be found in an Eastern mezze platter. This delicious delicacy consists of vine leaves that are carefully rolled and stuffed with a flavorful mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat. The art of making Dolma requires patience and precision as the vine leaves are delicately wrapped around the filling to create little bite-sized rolls.

These stuffed vine leaves are typically served cold, making them a refreshing and light addition to any mezze spread. Dolma can be enjoyed as a standalone appetizer or as part of a larger selection of small plates. The combination of the tender vine leaves and the aromatic rice stuffing creates a delightful burst of Mediterranean flavors in every bite.

Dolma is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual tastes and dietary preferences. While the traditional recipe calls for a rice-based stuffing, variations can include the addition of meat or the use of different herbs and spices. It is this adaptability that makes Dolma a beloved and timeless dish in Greek and Eastern cuisine.

So, the next time you find yourself in Arizona, particularly in the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe, make sure to visit Princess Pita, a renowned Mediterranean restaurant that offers an authentic and delicious Dolma experience. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the flavors of this traditional dish as part of a mezze spread that captures the essence of Greek and Eastern cuisines.

– Borek (filo pastry parcels filled with cheese and herbs)

Borek is a traditional dish in Mediterranean and Greek cuisine that consists of filo pastry parcels filled with a savory mixture of cheese and herbs. This delightful appetizer is a favorite among food lovers, both in its place of origin and around the world.

The ingredients used in Borek are simple yet flavorful. The filo pastry provides a delicate and crispy outer layer, while the cheese, often feta or a combination of different cheeses, adds a creamy and tangy element. Fresh herbs like parsley, dill, and mint are commonly incorporated, infusing the filling with fragrant and aromatic flavors.

Preparing Borek involves a careful process to achieve the perfect balance of textures and flavors. The filo pastry sheets are layered and brushed with olive oil or melted butter to ensure a golden and crispy result. The cheese and herb mixture is placed on top, and the pastry is folded and sealed into individual parcels. These parcels are then baked until they turn a beautiful golden brown.

Borek is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as part of a larger meal. It pairs well with a variety of salads and dips, such as tzatziki or hummus. Whether served at a restaurant like Princess Pita in Arizona, or made at home in Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe, Borek is a crowd-pleaser that offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures.


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