We are always on the hunt for sharing food, and we especially love a selection of Greek meze to graze with drinks and excellent conversation. These three recipes together make a perfect start to the most convivial gathering: warm savoury bread, a creamy-tangy-sharp pepper dip and crisp fried courgettes with the sweetness of honey and a hit of chilli. If you can’t get to Greece yourself, this is the next best thing.
Warm olive flatbread
You will need a roasting tray of about 20cm x 30cm and roughly 5cm deep.
Prep 50 min
Cook 16 min
For the dough
20g fresh yeast (or 10g fast-action yeast)
1 tsp honey (or sugar)
1 tbsp olive oil (preferably the oil from the olives – see below)
300g strong flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1 small bunch basil, 15 whole leaves picked and saved for the topping, the rest roughly chopped
For the topping
150g pitted black kalamata olives in oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
80g goat’s cheese of your choice (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil (or 2 tbsp of the oil from the olives)
Mix the yeast with 180ml warm water in a large mixing bowl with the honey and the oil, and set aside for about 15 minutes. After this time, and it has started bubbling, add the rest of the dough ingredients to the bowl and knead by hand so that it comes together into a sticky dough. Don’t over-knead: simply bring it all together so there are no lumps. Return it to the bowl and scrape any extra dough off your fingers. Cover with a cloth and set aside to prove in a warm place for about an hour , or until doubled in size (if it is a cold day, it may take longer).
Mix the olives with the reserved whole basil leaves and garlic. If you are using it, chop the goat’s cheese into cubes or crumble roughly.
Drizzle the olive oil all over the oven tray, then use your hands to spread out the oil, coating the surface. With your oily hands, pick the dough out of the bowl and press it down all over the base of the tin in one layer. Top with the olive, basil and garlic mix, dot with the goat’s cheese, if using, and set aside to prove again for 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9 and, once the dough has risen and started poking out from under the olives, pop it in the oven for 16 minutes. Turn it off, open the door and leave the bread in the hot oven for another 10 minutes before taking it out and serving.
Fried courgettes and sage leaves with honey and chilli
Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
500g courgettes (about 5 small ones)
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
1 small bunch sage, leaves picked (optional, but very delicious)
For the batter
15g sesame seeds
30g potato flour or cornflour
30g strong white flour
½ tsp ground fennel seeds
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
90ml cold sparkling water
For the topping
Flaky sea salt
2 tbsp good quality honey
½- 1 tsp chilli flakes (to taste)
Cut the courgettes in half, then into quarters lengthways to get thick baton wedges. (If you can only find large courgettes, cut each half into six or eight segments lengthways to form triangle fingers.)
Mix all the batter ingredients with a little whisk or fork to form a thin batter.
Fill a frying pan about 4cm deep with the vegetable oil and set over a high heat. Check the oil by dropping in a tiny bit of the batter: it should bubble and fizz away immediately.
Dip a few of the courgette fingers in the batter then, using a fork or tongs, pick each one up, let it drip off a little into the bowl, then put it into the frying pan. Repeat to form a single, spaced-out layer of courgettes. Colour on one side for two to three minutes, then flip to fry on the other side. Don’t worry about excess batter – we like to let it form crazy shapes.
Transfer the courgettes to a plate lined with some kitchen paper and repeat with all the courgettes, then batter and fry the sage leaves, if using, in the same way. Transfer to a serving plate while still piping hot, sprinkle with sea salt, honey and chilli flakes, and serve immediately.
Roasted pepper and feta dip
Prep 5 min
Cook 20 min
Serves 6-8, as part of a meze spread
2 long red romano peppers (or a jar of roast peppers)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
100g thick Greek yoghurt
½ tsp chilli flakes (or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
If you have fresh peppers, roast them under the grill or on an open flame until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover to steam a little, then peel and discard the seeds and skin.
Put the peppers, garlic and feta in a food processor and blitz to a puree, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients by hand, mixing until smooth and thick. Transfer the mixture to the fridge. Once cooled, taste for salt – usually the feta has enough.
Serve the dip cold and, if you have any strips of roast pepper left over, chop them and strew on top. Serve with warm olive flatbreads or crackers.