Mezze: Middle Eastern Favorites Made Grain-Free
Well I promised to my Facebook people that I would publish the recipes I used to create this Mezze this week, so I'm making that promise good. Mezze (or Meze, equally used) - the Eastern Meditteranean and Middle Eastern cuisines' equivalent to Spanish tapas - is a collection of small bites eaten as an appetizer before a meal or as a small meal in and of itself. It typically includes some sort of flatbread along with an assortment of spreads, vegetables and olives. Sometimes cheeses and hard-boiled eggs are included depending on the region. Since it is veggie-centric and usually eaten with your hands, it is both a healthy and fun way to serve a light meal to your family or guests.
How to Make Mezze Grain-Free
For those eating paleo or other grain-free diets, this version of mezze is for you. Tabbouleh is typically made with couscous or for the gluten-intolerant quinoa. To avoid all grains, we used finely chopped carrots to mimic the texture while still getting to enjoy the lemon and parsley flavors that make tabbouleh so refreshing.
Though I have created a white bean hummus, you could make Baba Ganoush as an alternative since it has many of the same flavoring agents as hummus but is made with smoked eggplant instead of beans. To paleo-fy the Herbed yogurt, use plain, unsweetened coconut or almond yogurt.
Lettuce to make wraps kept the grain-free theme going, but if you are simply not eating gluten and you want to enjoy bread with this, you can seek out a good store-bought flatbread or DIY using this recipe. For the full effect of toasted pita, grill it or bake on a well-oiled hot cast iron skillet or stone.
- Carrot Tabbouleh
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 lb carrots, washed and peeled
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds, optional
- sea salt to taste
- White Bean Hummus with Toasted Cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds (use 1 1/2 tsp dried ground cumin as an alternate)
- 1 can white beans (or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Spicy Herbed Yogurt
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- To Serve
- flatbread or large lettuce leaves
- mixed olives (buy good quality olives)
- feta cheese, optional
- goat cheese, optional
- hard-boiled eggs, sliced, optional
- roasted peppers, optional
- grilled vegetables, optional
- Soak the shallot in a small bowl of warm water with a generous pinch of salt. Using a food processor with chopping blade, run the carrots through to produce pieces the size of couscous. (Alternatively you can use the smallest holes on a grater but it will have a little different texture, more like angel-hair coleslaw.) Wipe out processor and set aside.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix with the lemon juice, chopped parsley, garlic, drained shallot, olive oil and seeds if using. Season to taste with salt.
White Bean Hummus with Toasted Cumin
- In a small skillet with no oil, toast the cumin over medium high heat until fragrant. (If using ground cumin, this will take seconds.)
- In the food processor or a blender, combine all the ingredients until smooth. Add a little warm water to achieve the consistency you want.
Spicy Herbed Yogurt
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Transfer the tabbouleh, hummus and yogurt to decorative serving bowls. Surround them with any of the optional accompaniments you are using.
To find high quality olives, look for those in jars or at an olive bar usually located in the deli area. Sea-salt brined or dry-cured are best. But kalamata olives, though they contain vinegar are tasty, too, and if in a jar are good quality.