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Aegean appetizers alfresco.

Beneath a brilliant sky, you're nibbling Aegean appetizers while sipping iced ouzo or wine. Sound like a scene from an exotic vacation? In a way this Greek appetizer meal, or meze, is a cook's holiday. To create this garden party for 12, combine purchased foods with others that require little more than a splash of olive oil, some lemon juice, and a few herbs. A real plus: preparation takes only 2 hours, from grocery bags to the table.

Buy-and-serve meze for 12

Hummus Favas with Herbs Marinated Shrimp Crusty Bread Aegean Cheese Radishes and Sardines Raw Vegetable Tray Pickled Vegetable Tray Pickled Vegetables Halvah Melon and Grapes Dry Sauvignon Blanc or Retsina Olives Stuffed Grape Leaves Honey and Nut Pastries Sparkling Water Ouzo

Delicatessen and international markets sell canned fava beans, halvah (a sesame seed candy sold canned or in bulk), and honey-soaked nut pastries such as baklava and burma. Suggested alternatives are in supermarkets. Buy anise-flavor ouzo (to pour over ice or mix with water) and retsina wines from a wine merchant.

Foods to buy and serve: About 3/4 pound canned stuffed grape leaves (called dolmathes, dolmades, or dolmas); 3/4 pound total assorted olives (calamata, dry salt-cured, nicoise, California ripe); 1 pound giardiniera (pickled vegetables); and 3/4 pound marinated artichokes. Drain foods before serving.

Also buy about 2 1/2 pounds total of crusty bread and pocket bread, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pastries or butter cookies, 1 large (about 3 1/2 lb.) cantaloupe, and 1 pound grapes.


2 cloves garlic 2 cans (15 oz. each) low-salt or regular garbanzos, drained 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste) 1/3 cup lemon juice 1/2 cup water 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 teaspoon cayenne Salt

Drop garlic into a blender or food processor with motor running; whirl to mince. Add garbanzos, tahini, lemon juice, water, 2 tablespoons oil, and cayenne; whirl smooth. Scrape into a bowl; drizzle with remaining oil. Serve; or chill airtight up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature. Add salt to taste. Makes about 3 cups.

Per tablespoon: 33 cal.; 1.1 g protein; 1.9 g fat (0.2 g. sat.); 3.3 g carbo.; 35 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Favas with Herbs

2 cans (about 27 oz. each) fava beans, or 3 cans (15 oz. each) butter beans, drained 1/3 cup minced red onion 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dry oregano leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar Salt and pepper

In a bowl, mix beans, onion, oregano, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve; or chill airtight up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature. Makes about 4 2/3 cups, 12 servings.

Per 1/3 cup: 98 cal.; 6 g protein; 2.2 g fat (0.3 g sat.); 14 g carbo.; 495 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Aegean Cheese

Other regional cheeses to consider are halloumi, kasseri, manouri, or mizithra.

1 large clove garlic, minced 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1 1/2 pounds feta cheese (from sheep's milk, if available), drained if in brine, and broken into chunks

In a bowl, mix garlic, olive oil, and thyme. Add cheese and mix gently. Serve; or chill airtight up to 1 day, then bring to room temperature. Serves 12.

Per serving: 180 cal.; 8 g protein; 15 g fat (8.9 g sat.); 2.5 g carbo.; 633 mg sodium; 51 mg chol.

Marinated Shrimp

1 1/2 pounds large (31 to 35 per lb.), shelled, cooked shrimp 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dry dill weed 3 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled dry mint leaves 3/4 teaspoon coarse-grind or cracked pepper Fresh dill sprigs (optional)

In a bowl, mix shrimp, oil, lemon juice, chopped dill, mint, and pepper. Chill airtight at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. Transfer to a platter and garnish with dill sprigs. Serves 12.

Per serving: 88 cal.; 12 g protein; 4 g fat (0.6 g sat.); 0.5 g carbo.; 128 mg sodium; 111 mg chol.

Radishes and Sardines

3 cans (about 4 oz. each) brisling sardines, drained 2 or 3 thin onion slices, separated into rings 12 red radishes, each with a few unbruised leaves, rinsed and crisped 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Arrange sardines, onion, and radishes in a dish; sprinkle with vinegar. Serve, or chill airtight up to 1 day. Serves 12.

Per serving: 54 cal.; 6.1 g protein; 2.8 g fat (0.4 g sat.); 0.5 g carbo.; 126 mg sodium; 35 mg chol.

Raw Vegetable Tray

1 3/4 pounds romaine lettuce, cut through the core into 12 wedges About 1 pound red radishes, each with a few unbruised leaves 1 pound red or yellow cherry tomatoes, or a combination 1 medium-size (about 10 oz.) cucumber, cut into 12 wedges

Rinse and crisp lettuce and radishes. On a platter, arrange the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, and cucumber. Serve, or chill airtight up to 1 day. Serves 12.

Per serving: 27 cal.; 1.7 g protein; 0.4 g fat (0 g sat.); 5.1 g carbo.; 17 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.
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Date:Sep 1, 1991
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