Was going to spend the entire summer island-hopping around the Mediterranean on my megayacht but plans got derailed again this year because of variants. And also because I don’t actually have my own megayacht. So it looks like an Epic Mediterranean Mezze Platter at home is going to have to do.
Unless you have a megayacht; in which case please DM me thank you.
Let's begin this odyssey...
What is Mezze | What You Need | How to Serve Mezze | Hummus | Other Dips and Spreads | Mediterranean and Greek Cheeses | Olives and Pickles | Pita Bread and Chips | Downloadable Shopping List | Tools and Serving Ware | Wine Pairing
What is Mezze
Mezze is an assortment of dips, spreads, vegetables, and small dishes served together and meant to be shared, family-style. It is a way of eating that originated from around the Mediterranean and Middle East. Those of us who didn't grow up with or are not familiar with mezze might think of mezze as "appetizers" or "snacks," though mezze can be a meal in an of itself.
Not only do I love the actual foods like hummus, tzatziki, and olives, but I love the way of eating by grazing a huge variety of bright, colorful flavors. This is part of the Mediterranean Diet, so I am, quite literally, on board.
Though each of the mezze can be served in individual bowls and plates at the table, putting everything together on a board or platter makes an impressive presentation. It also means there are fewer individual bowls to clean up.
What You Need for an Epic Mediterranean Mezze Platter
At a high-level, these are the categories of foods you will need for an Epic Mediterranean Mezze Platter. My choices tend to be very plant-forward, but you can add charcuterie and fish options:
- Dips like hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush
- Pita bread to tear into pieces and scoop up said dips
- Fresh and grilled vegetables
- Salads like tabbouli made of antioxidant-rich parsley
- Olives, artichokes, peppers and other pickled vegetables
- Cheeses like feta
- Prepared fish and charcuterie
Most of the items here are served as they are, not used as ingredients to actually make something. You can substitute anything and everything based on what you may already have, what's available at the store, and what's in season.
There is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to mezze. Use the shopping list and recipe for Mediterranean Mezze Platter as a guide and a starting point for your very own mezze platter.
How to Serve Mezze
With the exception of the Grilled Halloumi on the platter above, everything is meant to be served room temperature, or even straight out of the refrigerator. This means this Mediterranean Mezze platter is perfect for those hot summer nights when you don't want to cook.
Ingredients Notes, Substitutions and FAQs
Hummus for a Mediterranean Mezze Platter
- Homemade Hummus. If you have it in you, and I know you do, make your own homemade hummus. Homemade hummus is inexcusably easy, especially if you use canned chickpeas (I like this Organic brand). If you start with dried chickpeas, well damn, you don't even need to be reading this do you. Get these hummus recipes:
- Store-bought Hummus. There are SO MANY brands of prepared hummus out there. Generally, they're all preeeeetty good, so if you're going the route of store-bought, buy whichever one you like best. Just make sure the hummus is made from non-gmo ingredients.
Others Dips and Spreads for Mediterranean Mezze Platter
- Beetziki. Beet Tzatziki is basically a very strongly garlic-heavy yogurt dip with pureed beets. I have not seen it sold ready in packages at regular grocery stores, but if you know of a resource, please let me know. I am not a huge fan of beets because they taste a little too "earthy" for me, but I love them added to this dip. Get the Beetziki recipe here. If you want to keep the dramatic color and not the dairy, make a Beet Hummus.
- Skordalia. Skordalia is garlicky potato purée used as a dip or spread. Sometimes with added bread or nuts for body and flavor. This one is made with purple sweet potatoes. Partly for color, mostly for the added health benefit of sweet potatoes over regular white potatoes. Get the recipe for Purple Sweet Potato Skordalia here.
- Tzatziki. Garlic-infused yogurt with cucumber and any number of additional herbs, spices, and seasonings, is called different things in different places. I love them ALL. This version of Tzatziki with Chopped Cucumbers is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE because it keeps 1-2 lightly smashed garlic cloves whole and in the yogurt overnight while it and/or salted cucumbers are draining, then removed right before serving. The cucumbers are diced into tiny ⅛-inch dice, rather than shredded.
- Zucchini Ghanoush. Essentially baba ghanoush, but substitutes roasted zucchini for eggplant because I have a slight eggplant intolerance.
Mediterranean Cheeses on a Mezze Platter
I know. The cheese that IMMEDIATELY comes to mind when thinking of Mediterranean mezze is feta, right? But guess what, there are many cheeses produced in regions around the Mediterranean and an Epic Mezze Platter is a good reason to seek those cheeses out and learn about them.
That being said, I have tried a lot of cheeses from a lot of places, and feta actually is one of my favorites from anywhere. Go figure.
- Feta Cheese. I used a cubed, marinated feta on this particular board, but laying out feta in any format — a whole brick, crumbled, whipped—works because, well, feta. You can find ready-marinated feta in the prepared food section of the grocery store where they used to have serve-yourself olive and antipasti bars. Otherwise, you can very easily marinate your own cubed feta in a jar of olive oil seasoned with marinated peppers, gently crushed dried chili, and citrus zest. If you don't mind having one more dip on your board, I highly recommend Whipped Feta, recipe here.
- Grilled Halloumi. Halloumi cheese is made with goat's and sheep's milk from Cyprus, and because it doesn't melt (like feta), can be broiled or grilled. Buy a package of halloumi cheese. Right before serving your board, make a small "tray" out of a couple layers of heavy duty foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, place the halloumi in it, and broil it in a toasted oven until the cheese is brown and bubbling. To serve, carefully slice the broiled halloumi without tearing the foil tray, then place the entire foil tray with the cheese on your board.
Additional Cheeses to Explore
At the risk of being one of "those people," who throw anything remotely related to a cultural cuisine on a themed board and calling it a win, here are some other cheeses from the Mediterranean region that you could seek out and explore:
- Kasseri is a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese from Greece, sometimes with up to 20% goat's milk. It is mild to moderate in flavor.
- Kefalotyri is a hard sheep and/or goat's milk cheese with a salty, sharp flavor. Kefalotyri is one of the cheeses that can be used for saganaki, the flaming cheese.
- Manouri is a soft, fresh cheese, similar to cream cheese or ricotta
- Mizithra is a soft fresh cheese similar to mascarpone primarily from the island of Crete. Because it is mild and almost no added salt, mizithra can be served as part of a sweet course with honey and fruit.
Cooked, Pickled, and Marinated Things
- Make Stuffed Grape Leaves. If you want to be a Hero, you can buy grape leaves and make stuffed grape leaves from scratch. KC the GFreeFoodie has a recipe for an authentic meat-filled Armenian dolma.
- Buy Stuffed Grape Leaves. For the purposes of a big board with lots of other things, I usually save myself the heartache and buy vegetable and rice-stuffed grape leaves either from the prepared foods section in some of the bigger flagship Whole Foods Markets, or from a Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant. Stuffed grape leaves have different names with different fillings from different cultural cuisines! They are called dolmades in Greek, and dolme, tolme, and few other names depending on the specific country/region.
- Olives. I have never met an olive I didn't like, but I have a particular fondness for the large, firm, mild Castelveltrano olives from, you guessed it, Casteleveltrano in Sicily. The big purple olives are Cerignola olives, also fairly mild and buttery.
- Artichokes. I actually prefer buying whole, unmarinated artichokes, usually in a can, quartering, and very lightly dressing them myself with olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt.
- Peppadew peppers. These are large, round, thin-skinned and fairly mild bright red peppers. I used to get these from the self-serve olive and antipasti bar at Whole Foods or natural foods markets, but now buy them in the same department of the grocery store packaged by the store in to-go containers, and increasingly in jars in the same aisle where olives are.
- White Anchovies. Marinated white anchovies, also called "boquerones," are different from the dark brown, super salty anchovies in cars or small jars. These are vinegary and tart and my mouth is watering just typing this out right now. You may have seen white anchovies on your Caesar salads. The brand I use is Agostino Reccha, which makes a lot of other preserved fish, and is found at Eataly. White anchovies are perishable so you'll find them packaged and refrigerated with other fresh fish, as opposed to the canned fish aisle.
Pita Bread, Pita Chips, and Things for Dipping
- Pita or Other Flat Bread. Get the fluffiest pita bread you can find, which for me, is actually from a local Middle Eastern restaurant. You can also make your own 2-ingredient Flatbread in a skillet here.
- Pita Chips. For pita chips, I like the kind of pita chips that look like someone made them in-house and packaged them in clear plastic clamshell containers. They're thicker, sturdier, and usually a little oiler because they are literally fried like chips. They are also a little more expensive than the ubiquitous Stacy's brand in bag, but if you can find them (look on lower shelves in the chips or crackers aisles), get them.
- Vegetables and Fruit. All fresh produce I get first from the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers' market. Whatever I can't find there, I supplement with produce from either Bristol Farms and Whole Foods.
Mediterranean Mezze Platter Shopping List
Here's the list of ingredients in a color-coordinated google spreadsheet so you can download, sort, and use as needed.
Tools and Equipment for a Mezze Platter
Scroll through the carousel above for direct links to the boards, platters, dip bowls, and other equipment like food processor (to make all the dips!), etc.
- Large Ash Wood Board BQ ("Before Quarantine") I used this large 28-inch x 16-inch board for everything. Depending on how tightly you pack the ingredients and how often you replenish, this board can serve anywhere from 2 to 20.
- Condiment/Dip Bowls Four-inch diameter is the perfect size for dips and spreads. If you're a baker you can use 4-inch (6- or 8-ounce capacity) ramekins. I prefer the ones I've linked because they look more modern with smooth outsides rather than the classic ridges.
- Add color with these cobalt blue dip bowls.
Best Wine Pairing for Mediterranean Mezze Platter
Want to know what wine pairs best with Mediterranean mezze? Because there are so many flavors, textures, and intensities on a Mediterranean mezze platter, you have a wide palette (and palate!) from which to pair.
Assyrtiko. An obvious wine pairing choice is a wine directly from the region, since "what grows together, goes together." Assyrtiko is a white wine grape that is native to the Greek island of Santorini. Its light body and high acid makes Assyrtiko fairly versatile for pairing with food. Assyrtiko works with everything on this mezze platter from the fresh vegetables to the marinated anchovies. The Assyrtiko pictured below, from Domaine Sigalas, is not only highly rated by the experts, but pretty terrific in real life with my mezze platter! I bought my bottle from a local wine shop; it is available online.
Sauvignon Blanc. Garlic plays a significant flavor role in all of the dips, and Sauvignon Blanc almost always plays well with garlic. A crisp herb-forward Sauvignon Blanc is also a go-to wine for the fresh vegetables and herb-laden flavors in the dips.
Rosé. A dry, crisp rosé from Provence, which sits right on the Mediterranean Sea, is more than appropriate for the Mediterranean flavors on this mezze platter. Provençal rosés generally look lighter in color, but have a bright fruit flavor. Rosé spans a fairly wide range of flavors and styles, so you will find something on the mezze platter that will match your rosé.
Epic Mediterranean Mezze Platter Recipe
Dips and Spreads
- 1½ cups Beetziki recipe here
- 2 cups Classic Hummus recipe here
- 2 cups Tzatziki recipe here
- 2 cups zucchini ghanoush recipe here
- 1½ cups purple sweet potato skordalia recipe here
- 1 cup marinated feta recipe here
- grilled halloumi cheese see below Resources for instructions
- 4 hard cooked eggs halved or quartered
- 10 stuffed grape leaves
Marinated and Pickled
- 1-2 cups Castelveltrano mild, buttery green olive or any other olives
- 1 cup marinated artichokes quartered if whole
- 1 cup peppadew peppers
- 1-2 dozen marinated white anchovies
Chips and for Dipping
- 6 to toasted pita breads or make your own Magic 2-ingredient Flatbread
- 3-4 cups pita chips
- baby carrots
- a variety of cherry tomatoes
- round or French breakfast radishes
- candy stripe beets sliced into "chips"
- baby sunburst squash quartered or halved
- sliced cucumber
- Spoon the dips and spreads into small bowls and place on board.
- Arrange the remaining ingrediets arounf the dips and spreds on the platter or board.