Mezze Platter for Summer Grilling

Mezze Platter: A great idea for summer grilling
This is a handy way to start the party. Grill some halloumi and set it out with a plate of white bean spread, akin to hummus, but creamier and with a hefty kick of lemon and a dialing down of garlic and cumin. If you have room on the grill, heat up the bread while you are grilling the halloumi. The recipe can be tripled if you want to serve a crowd.

Throughout the Middle East this collection of small plates varies from region to region, but usually includes dishes like eggplant salad, stuffed grape leaves or other stuffed vegetables and olives, to name a few. Although it is often served with drinks, the selection could be large enough to make a meal. Here we draw upon the Middle East for inspiration, but you could also put together your own selection of small plates from any part of the world you choose.

Dense and salty halloumi, an age-old staple from Cyprus made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, has a rubbery texture until you heat it. When grilled, the outsides become crisp and the insides soft. Mitigate its intense saltiness with a drizzle of honey and a few drops of lemon juice and pair it with some mint leaves on a platter with olives. Now you have a centerpiece for your mezze. Add hummus, but change it up to make a milder version with white beans spiked with plenty of lemon. And while you are grilling, warm up some flat bread and sprinkle it with za’atar, a Middle Eastern herb mix containing sesame seed, sumac, dried hyssop or thyme, to name a few. So fire up the grill, and get ready for a party.

Mezze platter
Serves 4

White Bean Spread
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons tahini
1 can (15-ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Extra oil (for sprinkling)
Sumac or Marash pepper flakes (for garnish)

1 In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, salt, lemon juice and, tahini. Puree until smooth.

2 Add the beans, cumin, coriander and olive oil and puree until very smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl and sprinkle with more olive oil and a pinch of sumac or Marash pepper.

Grilled Halloumi
8 ounces halloumi, cut into 8 slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, quartered
2 tablespoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Greek olives
Small handful of mint leaves

1 Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high. Dip a small piece of folded paper towel in oil, and use tongs to brush the grill grates with it.

2 Brush the halloumi slices on both sides with olive oil. Cook the halloumi for 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until charred and firm on the outside and soft on the inside. Transfer to a platter.

3 Sprinkle the grilled slices with a little more olive oil and squeeze the lemon over the cheese. Drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with pepper. Garnish with the olives and mint. Serve hot.

Grilled Flatbread with Za’atar
3 loaves of Naan bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 teaspoons za’atar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium high.

2 Grill the bread for 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until charred and hot. Transfer to a plate, brush with oil and sprinkle with za’atar and parsley.

Note: These recipes were recently published in the Boston Globe


©2009-2018 Sally Pasley Vargas. Writing and photography, all rights reserved.