Mediterranean Mezze Feast for Two – Part 1
My doctor has been after me to lose another 10 lbs. At that, he said, you will be as perfect as you are going to get. In fact, he might be able to reduce blood pressure medicine dosage and the like. I am for that.
I really like Mediterranean style food and visited our local Lebanese restaurant this weekend. I was pleased to see that the mezze style dishes had reappeared. By the way, there are different spellings for mezze, one “z” or two.
When the mezze went away for awhile, I am certain that the restaurant wanted patrons to order the big plate dishes, though that is not the traditional way that people eat in the “Mediterranean” is it?
Food is served more or less in the center of a serving area, “family style,” and everyone shares.
The mezze at the Lebanese Taverna where I go employs a dish with a matrix of small square pockets in which they serve portions of various items. I think the matrix is five x five, but that is not important. The significance is portions and the collective amount of food was satisfying without being overfilling. The type of food, barring some deep fried items, was healthy in nutritious and tasty content.
One thing unique about Mediterranean recipes is the use of spices that are different from Western style cooking, with exception of when the spice trade influenced some cooking long ago.
When you try to cook Mediterranean food at home, the recipe books tell how to prepare enormous amounts of food that is too much for a couple trying to eat healthily and stay in bounds with calories.
So, here is my effort to share what I have learned about preparing a healthy meal that is inspired by food from this region of the world.
First, get used to the idea that there are going to be vegetables and multiple bean combinations all over the plate.
I am out of meat. That's good. I am sick of chicken, had lamb already, and ate pasta last night. It's time to get healthy.
We have been eating broccoli and cauliflower medley for three days now because I overbought. We have had our fill of asparagus too, but I have plenty of the stuff, so I plan to use it. I bought a can of Italian green beans because I liked a dish prepared by the Taverna that used them. We have garbanzos too. We have a package of pickle-size cucumbers, those miniatures and small tomatoes, one notch up from cherry size.
Yesterday, I made some roasted red bell peppers, so I'll surely include them.
So, I have a couple of cook books in front of me. One is the William-Sonoma Vegetarian book. The other is a wonderfully autographed book called Simply Elegant Soups by George Morrone. We got that from my niece who used to work for him.
Because I want to use the expensive asparagus, I am inspired by George Morrone to make asparagus soup. George's recipe is for “Green Asparagus Soup with Chevre-Filled Squash Blossoms.” We love you George, but get real. If I could get my squash to blossom, I would not sacrifice the fruit for the blossoms. I would not buy chevre-type vegetables in a tiny amount to top off the soup, not for two. So, what we're going to get is green asparagus soup, thickened lightly with skim milk and corn starch, and made with chicken broth. How about that? I will cut off the asparagus tips and that will provide the drama, and I'll serve it with a little plain yogurt on top.
I have a long way to go, so I had better stop writing and go make some dinner. I'll come back with some results if NowPublic readers want to know how it turns out.
In the meantime, check out George Marrones's book and you may want to visit an Lebanese Taverna for inspiration.
Menu from the Lebanese Taverna Market
Martha Stewart's take