I think of Greek food, I always think of lamb, olive oil, feta cheese. Each component was made separately. I skewered marinated lamb and olive oil brushed chunks of bread to assemble the perfect Greek party bite. I used minimal ingredients, making this easy entertaining.
The meze is similar to a tapas in that it’s not an appetizer or main course, but an eating experience with friends and family, where you take a bite of this, a bite of that. It could be a dish of olives, sliced crisp cucumbers, meat balls, dolmades, zucchini fritters, all meant to be shared and eaten with ouzo or wine.
I remember in graduate school we were told a story about two groups of people living in community. Both groups had a challenging problem. They had a big pot of stew sitting in the middle of the group, but the spoons were three feet long and by the time they would bring it to their mouth, it would fall off. The people in one group kept trying to feed themselves, but they eventually failed and starved. The other group ate and thrived. They realized that if they took the large spoon and fed each other, everyone could eat.
That story has always stuck with me. I’m a sharer by nature, and I like to eat with a group, sharing bites, and having good conversation. The Greek meze resonates with my soul, and probably yours too.
Meze isn’t something you do alone. The more people involved, the more dishes at the table and the more variety in taste, texture and flavor. The best part (outside of the ouzo) is the sharing conversation, food and life with everyone at the table.
It seems that Greek food is loved universally as is all Mediterranean inspired food is. All one needs to do is say, “Greek food” and we salivate for sultry and salty flavors, feta cheese, oregano, and lamb, often brightened up with lemon or orange citrus.
I took a little liberty and put my own twist to these skewers. They would be probably be a bit more authentic sitting atop pita bread triangles, but I love the chunky grilled bread that sops up the lemon and herb olive oil.
The good news of this recipe is that I used the same marinade for everything, the lamb, the cheese and the drizzling at the end. This is a one-bite party food, and needs to be easy.
Olive oil, lemon, hot chili flakes, garlic, herbs, drive that sultry Mediterranean flavor profile we all love.
You can replace the lamb with chicken or meatballs. You could use pita bread as the base of the meat, if you prefer. Have fun with it. It’s more of an idea than an exact recipe. This could be used as a dish to greet guests for a dinner party. The portion size shouldn’t be more than two bites. Serve with a dish of marinated Greek olives, and some ouzo.
- 1 pound lamb (shank end of leg of lamb or top round)
- sea salt, black pepper
- MARINATE INGREDIENTS
- 1 cup olive oil divided, maybe more
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or one teaspoon
- Several sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed, chopped finely
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon thyme dried or fresh
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 6-8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
- BREAD - use a crusty loaf that has a chewy soft center that would be good for toasting on grill.
- Trim fat from lamb and cut into cubes.
- Salt and pepper the lamb.
- MARINADE INSTRUCTIONS
- Combine remaining ingredients except the feta cheese and bread for the marinade.
- Use ¾ of marinade for lamb. Refrigerate 24 hours.
- Marinate the feta cheese with remaining.
- Trim crust off bread and cut into large cubes. Brush with olive oil.
- TO COOK:
- Heat grill on high and skewer lamb and bread SEPARATELY on different skewers.
- Grill lamb turning once for 5-8 minutes (3-4 minutes each side).
- Grill bread turning once for 1-2 minutes to golden brown.
- Using large tooth picks, skewer bread, lamb and cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.
Take a look at an array of meze when Laz of Lazaro Cooks features a round up on Friday.