Afternoon Meze Platter

Afternoon Meze Platter

What could be more appetizing than a plate laid out with some lightly steamed asparagus, a poached egg, some radishes with butter, and an aioli dip? Placed on the floor near an open window, and paired with a good book, a meze platter is the ideal late-afternoon meal. But before I go any further, I’ll be honest. The first time this idea occurred to me, it was after watching this scene in Eat, Pray, Love. While the pray and love pieces of the equation only vaguely appealed to me, I could completely relate to the pleasure found in enjoying a simple feast for one. This past weekend, I found myself with an entire afternoon free, so I visited the open-air market by my apartment and stocked up on fresh vegetables, cheeses, and a bottle of rosé to recreate the scene and a perfect afternoon.

Simplicity is key. Part of the appeal of meze is that it is made up of simple components. There’s no need to douse the radishes in dressing, or to make the toast into a croque. Instead, the arrangement should be about the elements themselves. Have butter and salt on hand to put on the radishes, and keep mayonnaise on the side for the artichoke hearts, but add these little enhancements as you go, and don’t let them overpower the flavor of the vegetables themselves.

Meze Platter with Cheese and Tomatoes

Think Mediterranean. Meze platters are traditionally Mediterranean, and are served in countries like Greece and Turkey with fresh dips like hummus, falafel, and grilled fish and meat. While I prefer a simpler meze platter, it can be helpful to look towards these cuisines for inspiration!

Plan ahead. While part of the appeal of meze is that it can take as little as 10 minutes to create the entire meal, you might want to add some make-ahead elements, like this anchovy dip, or home-made wine jam to pair with the brie.

Location, location, location. While an Italian apartment or an open-air Greek home is not always immediately accessible (qu’elle domage), it’s possible to make a few changes at your house or apartment to at least feel like you’re at an Italian villa. Put a throw or blanket on the floor and arrange your meze (and wine!) around it, place some candles nearby (this one’s my personal go-to), and play some music (either Carla Bruni or this Spotify playlist will do!).

Have a variety of options. While fresh vegetables and proteins (like salmon lox and zucchini blossoms) should be the centerpiece of the platter, there should be a balance between the fresh and light and the heavier foods. So that every bite feels like your first, alternate between bites of cheese on bread (with fig or wine jam) and lightly steamed asparagus with lemon rind.

What’s on my platter.

Cheese {Brie or goat cheese}
Protein {Poached egg, smoked salmon}
Vegetables {Radishes, artichokes, asparagus}
Beverage {Rosé or an herb-based cocktail}
Carb {Freshly baked bread}
Condiments {Jam, pear mustard, aioli}