Simple and Beautiful Greek Mezes

Like Spanish tapas, mezedes or meze, the legendary small plates of Greece are always served with drinks as a starter for a party or dinner. This Greek culinary custom derives from the ancient Greeks, who believed that no guest should be welcomed without a little something to eat (or drink!).

There are hundreds of complex Greek Meze, main courses and desserts, but I prefer to serve a platter of easy, simple dishes on the boat. I also favor Meze that are shelf stable such as pita chips, jarred olives, artichokes, peppers and fish because they can be pulled out last minute for drinks aboard. Greek yogurt is convenient and easily prepared, as well as hummus, eggplant dips and tahini. For a full-blown Greek meal simply plan ahead and bring aboard fresh meat, fish, veggies, and fruit along with some greens and herbs. Serve red and white wines with dinner rather than retsina or ouzo.

While the menu this month, as seen in Southern Boating magazine, is fairly complete, you may wish to add one or both of the following salads:

Greek Cucumber Salad (Angouri Salata)
3 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 medium cucumbers, halved, seeded (if necessary), and thickly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of dill
1/4 cup crumbled feta

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Add the cucumbers, onion, dill, and feta, and toss to coat.

Greek Salad (Horiatiki)

4 ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 medium green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 cup pitted black olives
½ cup feta cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. vinegar
Pinch of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and onions on a plate or shallow bowl. Scatter with olives and feta. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.

Lost Orange Cake (Fanouropita)
This olive oil cake is named after St. Fanourios, the Greek Saint of lost things.
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup Metaxa or other brandy
Zest from ½ orange
Powdered sugar for topping

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and walnuts. Add in remaining wet ingredients: olive oil, vanilla, orange juice, brandy, orange zest. Mix well until batter is formed. Pour into cake pan lightly coated with olive oil. Place in preheated oven at 350F for 40-45 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean, cool cake, then dust with powdered sugar. Serve alone or with macerated berries.

By Lori Ross, Southern Exposure


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