Summer Meze Recipes by John Whaite
This summer we’re celebrating inspired outdoor spaces and creating moments to wax lyrical about from our own homes. As part of this celebration we’ve partnered with TV chef John Whaite to bring you fresh and fragrant summer recipes which can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own garden.
A few friends recently told me that the thought of serving a meze (as opposed to a regimented starter-main-dessert option) was a little daunting. But I want to reassure you that a meze is nothing more than a collection of small salads and meats, many of which can be prepared well in advance. My top tip is to just stick to three dishes that you make yourself: a meat dish, a salad and a vegetable dish (though if serving to vegetarians you could make 2 vegetable dishes instead). The table can be made more abundant with shop-bought bits and bobs, such as flatbreads, olives, hummus and baba ganoush.
To make it even simpler, treat it like a buffet: just plonk piles of plates, cutlery and napkins onto the table and let people dig in at their leisure.
Lamb Kofta on Yoghurt Cucumber Dip
Makes 8 (can easily be doubled)
For the kofta
250g lamb mince
½ onion, very finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
20g pine nuts
Handful parsley, finely chopped
3 tbsp milk
½ tsp fine salt
Olive oil, for cooking
For the yoghurt dip
200g full-fat Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cucumber, finely grated
2 radishes, finely grated
Coarse black pepper
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients and bring together until well-combined. Portion into 8 even balls and refrigerate on a plate, under cling, until ready to cook. You can store them in the fridge for a day before cooking.
For the yoghurt dip, mix everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon onto the plate on which you intend to serve the kofta.
Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Add the kofta and fry for 4 minutes a side, or until the kofta reach 75C internally – I use an instant-read digital thermometer. Put the kofta on top of the yoghurt dip and serve.
Sumac-roasted Carrots with Tahini Sauce
4 carrots, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sumac
For the tahini sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp light tahini
3 tbsp cold water
Toss the carrots in the oil, sumac and a generous pinch of salt, and set onto a baking tray. Roast at 200C fan for 25 minutes, then cover with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes.
For the sauce put the garlic into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Leave to soak for 5 minutes to remove the bitter burn of the garlic, then add the tahini and water and whisk to a smooth sauce – it will look dry and curdled as you mix but just carry on. If it’s a little thick, stir in more water as necessary until velvety and smooth.
To serve, set the carrots onto a serving plate and drizzle over the tahini sauce. This can be made in advance, stored in the fridge for a couple of days, and served at room temperature.
Basil and Pomegranate Tabbouleh
45g bulgar wheat
300g plum tomatoes
4 spring onions
Juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
100g flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
40g basil leaves, finely chopped
75ml extra virgin olive oil
Seeds from ½ pomegranate
Rinse the bulgar wheat under the cold tap until the water runs clear, then put into a bowl and cover by 1cm with boiling water. Cover with clingfilm (though I prefer using a plate as a lid) and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes and finely slice the spring onions and put them into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, pepper, allspice, parsley, basil, olive oil and pomegranate seeds.
Use a fork to fluff up the bulgar wheat and add it to the bowl. Toss everything together, season well and set aside until you’re ready to serve. If you want to make this a day in advance, the flavours will only get better. Though I’d recommend you add the pomegranate seeds just before serving as these can deflate a little.