Greek Meze

On a warm summer's day these will remind you of holidays in the Med; Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Israel, wherever.  They are delicious and lovely to make for snacks, lunch with a Greek salad and to share with friends.

The pitta crisps are mega healthy version of tortilla chips and the beans are my absolute favourite, eaten on their own, straight out of the fridge, they barely make it to the table.

Borek
These cigar-shaped cheese pastries are very popular in Turkey, Greece and The Lebanon. They are lovely served as a starter on their own or with dips like Tzatziki.

200g feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 pack of filo pastry
50g melted butter
a little water

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oc/gas 6.
  2. Mash the feta cheese using a fork, add the egg and a tablespoon of water and stir to mix.
  3. Cut the parsley using the scissors add to the cheese along with the black pepper.
  4. Lay out the filo pastry, brush the sheet with melted butter and cut into three. Cover the pastry with a damp tea towel to prevent it drying out.
  5. Spread a heaped teaspoon of cheese mixture thinly along one edge leaving a little room so you can fold the edge in. Fold the edges in and roll up to form a cigar shape. Brush with a little water on the final edge to help it stick down.
  6. Brush with melted butter and transfer to a baking tray. Repeat until all the mixture and filo has been used up.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot or cold with Tzatziki on the side.

Gigantes Plaki (Greek Beans)
One of my favourite Greek dishes, serve at room temperature with other Greek meze or as a side dish with lamb.  They are best made the day before to allow the flavour to develop

2 x 400g jars butter beans
2 tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400ml tomato passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp mint
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Drain and rinse the butter beans, set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in a large frying pan over a low to medium heat for around 10 minutes until soft but not browned
  3. Add the tomato passata, puree and herbs and simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the beans.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, cover and allow to cool.  Chill overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of fresh herbs.

Pitta Crisps
1 pack wholemeal pitta bread

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4/AGA roasting oven.
  2. Warm the pitta bread under the grill or on the simmering plate of an AGA until they just begin to puff up. This makes them easier to split in two. The split the pitta breads into two.
  3. Cut each half into 6 or 8 triangles, you should end up with 12-16 ‘crisps’ from each pitta bread.
  4. Spread them in a single layer on a greased baking tray and bake them for 5-10 minutes until the triangles are toasted and crisp but not burnt. Keep checking them as they burn easily. AGA roasting oven shelf on top set of runners for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Turn them over and toast the other side. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and store in an airtight container. Serve with dips as a healthier alternative to tortilla crisps.

Tzatziki
½ a cucumber
200 ml Greek yoghurt
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
paprika

  1. Peel, deseed and grate the cucumber. Wrap the grated cucumber in muslin or a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
  2. Mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic and oil, stir in the cucumber and sprinkle with a little paprika, chill before serving.