QUICK AND SUMMERY Tzatziki is a great addition to any mezze-style meal.
It’s so great to be meeting up with family and friends again! On Sunday we had a picnic in the ancient oak glade on the banks of the Errif River.
My dad was there, the Brunette and the children, and our friend Will. We had a Spanish omelette made by the Brunette and a spread of dips and bread, a flask of coffee and a big bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. Dad brought a big bowl of sweetest strawberries from his garden and sugary cream. From Will, smoky tea brewed with the water from his Kelly Kettle.
The river was high and the fish were jumping – but we didn’t catch anything! It didn’t matter – we were just happy to be able to hang out. All going well, we will have more gatherings to look forward to and more picnics. Al fresco meals on the patio too.
This summer I’m all about catching up with friends and not sweating in the kitchen and missing out on the fun! I’m thinking tapas/mezzes are the way to go. Basically lots of different small dishes for people to pick from.
A caveat – normally I would say this kind of meal is a free for all, throw the dishes on the table, help yourself. But, given the coronavirus, if a mezze is shared between mixed households it might be better for one person to do the thorough hand wash and then serve everyone what they’d like. Onwards and upwards.
For dipping and soaking, make sure there’s plenty of crusty bread/hot flat breads. Use nice plates and bowls, make everything look pretty.
For substance, steam a load of baby potatoes; toss them in butter and sprinkle with fresh mint and chopped chives. That’s one bowl.
Slow roast baby tomatoes – prick them then drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pop in a hot oven, shaking occasionally. Cool and arrange with sliced mozzarella and basil leaves on a platter.
Wilt some summer greens, a mix of spinach and chard, toss in some butter and a bit of crushed garlic, and fire into another bowl.
Do boiled eggs – hard for peeling, or soft for soldiers. And make fresh, zingy coleslaw from shredded cabbage, carrot and red onion mixed in mayonnaise – maybe spice it up with a few pinches of medium curry powder. Mushrooms make a lovely dish too; sauté in butter and vegetable oil, season with crushed garlic, thyme leaves and sea salt.
Fresh guacamole is another perfect sharing nibble – finely chop a small red onion or shallot and a chili, add a squeeze of lime, a small grating of garlic, mash together with a ripe avocado, a bit of sea salt and a smattering of chopped coriander.
A fresh green salad tossed in vinaigrette is lovely, especially with toasted sesame seeds stirred through. Toast the seeds on a tray in a hot oven for a short while, shaking frequently. Watch out – they burn quickly. When cooled, sprinkle over your salad leaves (if you have any, add nasturtium flowers for colour and flavour) and mix well. Or add the seeds to grated carrots lightly coated in vinaigrette.
To serve with your potatoes or bread, make tzatziki, a quick and summery Southeast European/Middle Eastern dip.
What you need
> 500g full-fat Greek yogurt
> 1 cucumber
> 1 clove of garlic
> a pinch of crushed sea salt
> 1 small squirt of lemon or lime
> 2 small, tender leaves of mint, finely shredded
What you do
Peel the cucumber, slice in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Grate the white cucumber flesh. In batches, squeeze the grated cucumber dry using a clean (strong cotton) tea towel. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place the dried cucumber flesh in a bowl; add a finely crushed clove of garlic (less is more) a large pinch of crushed sea salt and the yogurt. Gently mix well. Add a small squirt of of lemon or lime and the shredded mint (try to use two smaller tender leaves, rather than one big tough one). Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.