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Mezza – Spiced Prawns, Coriander Chicken Wings and Fresh Oregano Salad

Who doesn’t love a leisurely banquet? Mezza is a tradition celebrated in Lebanon and neighbouring countries throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. It is usually comprised of small dishes to be enjoyed as a main meal, or lead up to the main meal.

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I’ve always favoured a long laid-back lunch and a light dinner and believe this is actually better for you too. The best kind of celebration would be getting everyone together, sitting on cushions in a shady spot away from the blistering sun – slowly working our way through dish after dish. People helping themselves and good conversations with Spanish guitar or some other complex rhythms, dancing and laughing the night away……

Anyway, back to earth……these flavours are all great together. The marinade for the chicken – coriander, garlic and lemon gives it a great zing and is something I will fall back on again and again. The taratour (tahini sauce) and caramelised onion spiced prawns is also delicious, all the components shaping a very tasty dish. I had never used fresh oregano in a salad but it is really special when paired with the sumac and molasses and the sweetness of the salad is actually essential for balancing out the other aromatic flavours in the other dishes. I also made a saffron rice, recipe in link below.

http://thetravellingpantry.com/2014/04/09/saffron-rice-pilaf-and-2-nifty-curries/

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Chicken Wings with Coriander, Garlic and Lemon

Ingredients Serves 4 as part of a mezza spread

  • 1kg chicken wings, wing tips removed (they normally are)
  • 3 tbsp oilive oil
  • 2 tsp salt

Sauce

  • Large handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minsed
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 200°C. Add wings to a bowl and use hands to rub in the oil and salt then arrange on a baking tray and place in the hot oven for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, make the sauce and leave to one side.

When the chicken is golden and the skin crispy, remove from oven. Heat the sauce in a large frying pan and add the cooked chicken, stirring to coat completely. After a few minutes, the chicken should be browned and sticky, serve and eat straight away.

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Fresh Oregano Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and Sumac

Ingredients Serves 4 as part of a mezza spread

  • 2 handfuls of fresh oregano leaves
  • 250g mixed baby tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ red onion, halved and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp of sumac
  • 80ml olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Add the oregano leave to a salad bowl with the tomatoes and onion.

Sprinkle with sumac.

Make dressing from whisking together the molasses and oil and add dress salad when ready to eat.

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Spiced Prawns with Taratour and Caramelised Onion

Ingredients Serves 4 as part of a mezza spread

  • 16 large green prawns, cleaned with tails intact
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Caramelised Onion

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

Taratour

  • 140g tahini (about 2 tbsp)
  • 30ml lemon juice (about half lemon)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minsed

First make the caramelised onion by heating the oil and frying the onion on a medium heat with 1 tsp of salt until browned. This takes about 10 minutes, when ready, set aside.

Make the taratour by adding all ingredients to a food processor or hand blender and blitzing until combined and smooth. Add to a small bowl and set aside.

Add pine nuts to a small, dry pan and toast until golden.

For prawns, add to a bowl with the cumin, chilli, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of oil and mix well.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and add the spiced prawns, turning and frying for about 3 minutes, until just cooked through.

Arrange prawns in a serving dish and scatter over onion and pine nuts and a drizzle over taratour. Serve with the extra onion and taratour for people to add as thye wish. Any leftover taratour should keep for up to 1 month if refrigerated.

 

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