Includes recipes for a feta labneh dip & and a perfect black olive tapenade
If I were a professional chef, I’d definitely be a Garde Manger and work in the cold kitchen. I am obsessed with cheeses, salads, dressings, dips, pickles and all condiments. Our Levantine cuisine is nothing but short of dishes that fall under this category and we even have a name for it, Mezze.
I have always been responsible for the cheese platter in the family and for making the dips and salads on BBQ days. Unlike most of my family members, I enjoyed BBQs not because of the meat, but because of hummus, tabbouleh, eggplant mutabbal and everything else. To be honest, I could eat mezze every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and wouldn’t get bored. The variety of dips and small bites that we have is mind-blowing.
I guess my point is, there is really no right or wrong way to do this. In this platter, I just used whatever I had on hand and it turned out perfect. So below I’ll give some sort of a rough guide on how to prepare your own mezze platter and will include recipes for two of the dips I prepared.
Let’s assemble that mezze board!
- Savory dips (1, 3, 10, 11, 12, 18): For this board I prepared avocado hummus, red homemade shatta, green homemade shatta, beetroot hummus, feta labneh dip and black olive tapenade. The sky is the limit here, I have already published a recipe for baba ghanoush, which is perfect for such a platter. I will also be publishing more dips soon like the infamous muhammara, eggplant mutabbal and many more.
- Cheese (6, 14, 15): I grew up eating Syrian and Lebanese string and braided cheeses and they are my favorite. I also have included a Turkish spicy semi hard cheese. Feta also works perfectly fine in a mezze platter, so do labneh balls.
- Marinated vegetables (4, 17): I love home marinated olives. Sun dried tomatoes and marinated artichokes would also be a welcomed addition here.
- Breads and crackers (7,9): toasted bread and zaatar grissini. I also was planning to add pita chips, but I burnt them in the oven and had no time to make an additional batch. Pita chips is perfect in a mezze board because they are perfect for dipping.
- Sweet dips (8,13): apricot jam, which is a very commonly paired with cheese in the Middle East. Honey is also a typical choice here.
- Nuts: I added pecans and unsalted toasted almonds to the board. They taste divine with cheese.
- Fruits and vegetables: here, I added grapes, but you can add whatever you have. Vegetable sticks is also an excellent addition.
- Meet: I usually don’t add any meat to my boards, but had this salami on hand and thought why not? Basterma would also be a nice addition.
You probably figured by now, it is totally a matter of personal choice and what you have on hand. Key thing is to start with your ramekins or dips dishes and build the board around them, as simple as this.
Now this feta dip is so simple and is a crowd favorite. The saltiness of the cheese, tanginess of labneh and sweetness of honey makes it addictive. As for the tapenade, this is a classic recipe that is so good not to share.
Feta Labneh Dip
- 200 g feta cheese
- 100 g labneh
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp chives finely chopped
- Black pepper freshly ground
- In a food processor, add all ingredients and blend until mixed thoroughly.
Black Olive Tapenade
- 150 g Picual olives pitted
- 100 g pitted black olives
- 50 g anchovies
- 40 g capers
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp chives
- In a food processor, add all ingredients and blend until chunky. Do not overmix until it is pureed, as it is meant to have a chunky texture.