Wow, this was some Daring Cooks challenge, and worth every second.  Ever have a tapas at a Spanish Restaurant? Well, this is a Middle Eastern version of a tapas called a mezze.  It consists of homemade pita and loads of dips, spreads, condiments, and meats.  I was initially going to do a My Own Mezze aka not your typical mezze, trying different ideas with Middle Eastern flavors, ones that I came up with all by my little ole’ self.

After mulling it over a bit, I decided to go with the grain and make tried, true and traditional mezze fare.  I’ve had the pleasure of  gorging on/at a mezze before, but it’s been a while, so I was looking forward to making some of those traditional mezze goodies myself.

A Tradtional, Homemade Mezze with homemade pita, falafel, hummus, Muhammara, tabbouleh, kebabs, etc!

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make a mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

Baked Balloon Bread (Pita) It's not only cool, but soft, puffy and delicious! A great addition to a Mezze!

Recipe for Pita

My mezze is pretty much fercocked.  One would ask, where are we? I chose goodies from Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, and god knows where else.  Let’s just call it a ‘traveling’ mezze.  Take a bite of one thing; and you’re in Turkey! A bite of something else and now you’re breaking plates in Greece! I know the cuisine in those countries is very similar, but each country lends its own nuance to the dishes.

A Tradtional, Homemade Mezze with homemade pita, falafel, hummus, Muhammara, tabbouleh, kebabs, etc!

Alright, enough with the goofiness.  Fercocked or not, everything in my mezze was yummy, and below is a list of everything I made:

  • Cashew Hummus (Recipe below. I use cashew butter or paste instead of tahini, and toast the cashews before grinding them.)
  • Muhammara – Roasted red pepper, toasted walnut, pomegranate molasses dip.
  • Homemade Pita
  • Za’atar Bread (Manouhse) using above pita recipe.
  • Cucumber Raita (Recipe below. Similar to tzatziki, but with toasted cumin seeds)
  • Herbed orange marinated green and black Greek olives
  • Garlic Hummus
  • Shish Taouk – Chicken kebabs with garlic, lemon and spices  (minus the traditional garlic laden mayo like dip I knew nothing about) Recipe below.
  • Roasted red onion and cherry tomato kebabs with Za’atar seasoning – which I forgot to cook/roast as you can see in the photos!
  • Fattoush – The Middle Eastern version of a Panzanella salad, using pita ( I brushed the pita with garlic oil before toasting it in the oven)
  • Falafel
  • Tabbouleh (Tabbouli, Taboule, Tabouli, Tabuli..there’s like a gazillion ways to spell it)

I know, not very creative, but SO worth NOT being creative! This is manna x 100 on a table! My mezze is small and basic compared to most mezze(s), but of course you can double and triple everything for a crowd.  I think everyone should host a mezze at least once in their life; I mean, who doesn’t love warm pita with just about anything in it or on it? Speaking of which, who doesn’t love making pita from scratch? I’ve made pita before, and in fact, used this recipe before, so I knew beforehand it was going to be a success.

The thing is, I almost wish there hadn’t been so much success, since I’d have more to write! My pitas puffed perfectly, my kebabs grilled beautifully, my dips/spreads were creamy and flavorful, and even the olives rocked.  The tabbouleh was lemon fresh parsley goodness, and the fattoosh salad was a burst of freshness with a garlic-icous pita crunch.  Well, after my macaron disaster, I needed a boost of glitch-free, problem-free fare.  Oh, one of my Lowel Ego Lights broke; there you go, A major problem. OH, and I forgot to cook the tomato red onion kebabs before photos! Why do I suddenly feel satiated?

A Tradtional, Homemade Mezze with homemade pita, falafel, hummus, Muhammara, tabbouleh, kebabs, etc!I forgot to cook the tomato red onion skewers! I didn’t want to be late to this challenge, so I just left them uncooked for photos! They’re first marinated in olive oil with Za’atar, salt and pepper for several hours, then roasted (400 F) on a baking sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning once half way through, or grilled to desired doneness.

Now I’m writing just to make room for all of these mezze photos, so excuse the pointless rambling.

So, I split the pita recipe in half, and now I wish I didn’t because I ended up with 8 pita pockets, thinking that was enough for 2-4 people. Well, it is, but we wanted MORE.  I’ll definitely be making these forever.  Trust me when I say that homemade pita always beats the crap out of the stuff you buy at the market in plastic bags.

Then again, isn’t that the case with everything edible? Well, I have to admit, there are some packaged sweets out there that beat the crap out of homemade, so, I’ll leave it at that.

Finally, for those who have inquired, I used THIS recipe for the Muhammara. But I changed it a bit.  I used fresh roasted red peppers instead of the jarred, reduced the 3/4 cup of oil to 1/2 cup, added a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and an extra 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.

A Tradtional, Homemade Mezze with homemade pita, falafel, hummus, Muhammara, tabbouleh, kebabs, etc!

Okay, I think I have enough room for my mezze photos. For the recipes for falafel, pita and a few of the sides, click HERE.

I hope your Mezze is as a-mezze-ing tasting as mine was!

Shish Taouk (Lemon Garlic Chicken Kebabs) and Cucumber Yogurt Dipping Sauce (Raita) with Feta
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 6 to 8 servings
Marinating time: 2 to 24 hours
Cucumber Yogurt Dipping Sauce (Raita) adapted from The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm
Chicken Kebabs
  • 2 lbs cubed chicken breast or cubed boneless thighs
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Raita)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced or shredded
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds OR use a small pinch of dried cumin—to taste
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • a handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • about a medium handful of fresh cilantro or mint leaves, chopped,
  • cayenne pepper or paprika, just a pinch to use as a garnish (optional)
For the Chicken Kebabs
  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except the chicken. Pour into a ziplock bag along with chicken cubes. Allow chicken to marinate for 2-24 hours, turning occasionally, in the refrigerator.
  2. Place chicken on the skewers (if using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes to 24 hours, first) about 5 pieces on each skewer. Grill (or sear in a hot oiled pan) for 8-15 minutes (depending on size of chicken cubes) or until done, turning them during cooking.
For the Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Raita)
  1. Peel the cucumber, then seed and dice, or shred with a grater. Blot the moisture off the shredded or diced cucumber with paper towels,making sure it's dry before adding to the yogurt mixture.
  2. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.
  3. In a bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Mix the yogurt with the cumin, minced garlic and cilantro or mint leaves.
  4. Stir in the cucumber and feta, and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika. Cover and chill before serving.

Cashew Hummus
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: about 2 cups hummus
Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.
  • 1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight and cooked (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
  • 2 lemons, juiced (3 ounces)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • a big pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cashew paste aka cashew butter OR use peanut butter or any othernut butter; feel free to experiment! (1.5 ounces)
  • additional flavorings of your choice
  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree in food processor or mix well for a chunkier hummus. Adjust the seasonings to taste.


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69 Responses to A – MEZZE – ING

  1. O my beautiful and oh so honest Lisa, your mezze challenge is amazing and your photos as always are amazing. Love that first photo!!!! I absolutely love the pixs of the pita — the web of dough is astounding!!!! And with this challenge I think easy and simple is the way to go. No need to have strange flavour combinations for this. You have done very well no better excellently on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    One of the best postings I have seen so far <3<3<3

  2. Yaelian says:

    Wow! What a beautiful mezze display,everything just looks so beautiful and delicious!

  3. Rosa says:

    I’m drooling! That is some of my favorite food. Fabulous!



  4. Love the part where u say ur rambling for the pics…i do too but u make so muc sense in ur beautiful flow f writing…..

    And honestly ur way too too good Lisa,these combis are genius and love ur travel aorund the globe with delgithful eliciousness….fantastic and absolutely very stunning pics….

    And with my new post u’ll be having 3 awards added to ur kitty soonnnnnnnnnnnnnnn….coz oh yeah…LOVE IS IN THE AIR,SO IS ROMANCE AND WISH YA LOADS OF IT……

  5. Wic says:

    I am stunned by all this amazing and delicious looking food. I am jealous and I want to eat it all.

  6. Megan says:

    Warm pita with just about anything? Yup! Count me in! Everything looks fabulous. I love falafel and keep meaning to make some at home one of these days. Homemade pitas are definitely on my list too. All of your pictures are so beautiful and so appetizing!

  7. suezumout says:

    Your presentation always makes me smile. I love how you wrapped the pita in a bow and put your hummus, olives etc. in cups. Your falafel look crunchy and beautiful.

  8. OMG! What a spread!!! I can’t stop drooling over how perfectly puffed your pita is!! Beautiful!

  9. AnneMarie says:

    I would like to come to your mezze table. Beautiful.

  10. ap269 says:

    Funny post, fantastic pictures. I’d be interested in your recipe for the muhammara. Could you please post it or send me a link? It looks great!

  11. Katrina says:

    That all really looks delicious and so pretty and colorful.

  12. Lisa,
    Your Mezze is truly amezzeing! Don’t you love the Muhammara??! That was my favorite accompaniment to my mezze.

  13. Barbara says:

    Beautiful pictures of a fabulous meal!

  14. Wow everything looks amazing! My mouth is watering. 🙂

  15. Arlette says:

    Finally a Lebanese Feast,
    gorgeous pita bread, the stone is the best for baking .
    One thing I need to ask where is the garlic sauce for sheigh Tawouk you cannot serve sheish tawouk without the garlic sauce which is similar to homemade mayo but instead oil, garlic and lemon juice… oh baby this is heavenly food…

    i am glad you enjoyed your challenge and the flavour of our food.

    • lisamichele says:

      Really? Interesting, as none of the recipes I found for it mentioned a garlic mayo like sauce..but you would know better than them! That said, if it had been listed in the recipe, I don’t think I would ever nix a garlic mayo like sauce..YUM!

  16. chef_d says:

    Wow wow wow! Really great looking mezze platter! Great job 🙂

  17. I believe your “traveling” mezze must have been so inspirational and delicious. I would definitely call it “Lizamezze” if you still allow it 🙂

    Photos are beautiful, and your 150% effort is worth every blink of our eye’s viewing. Just hope I can taste it too..

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  18. climbhighak says:

    I wanted to stop by here first. Your mezze did not disappoint. Don’t ever be hesitant about posting lots of photos. Love the eye candy and am confident yours tastes every bit as good as it looks.

  19. MandyM says:

    Oh! I like your version of hummus. Hummus is the one dip that I loath, I just hate the chalky texture or the chickpeas, yeugh. People think I’m insane, but I’m slowly finding other people who agree with me, lol.

    My favourite meze is the Greek stuff, tzatziki, skordalia, melitzanosalata, kefthedes…. I could go on and on but I’m already hungry from looking at your pics so I won’t go on torturing myself.

    Great job on the pita bread! It’s something I have yet to make. 🙂

  20. Wow, your pitas look amazing, and this is just a fab selection of mezze. This is a real favourite of mine.
    HOpe you had a wonderful valentines day.
    *kisses* HH

  21. Valerie says:

    Now why didn’t I think of that pun in your title?

    You did amazing, Lisa! The pita looks especially lovely! And I’d never heard of muhamara, but reading the ingredients really makes me want to try it (darn, can I still find pomegranate at my local grocery store?).

    I was going to make fatoush too, but I completely forgot about it. I’ve made it before, and it is a great way to use leftover pita!

  22. Just beautiful job and presentation ideas. Love the blue ribbon bow on the pita!

  23. Delicious days are here sweety-have got 3 awards lined for u my sweet happy pal,do stop by and pic ’em up coz they are topped with loads of love,yeah [email protected]……

    Hope u love ’em as muc as i do!!!!!

  24. Natalie says:

    Oooh this looks amazing, I wish I had got round to making this challenge, I’ve always wanted to try making pitta bread and houmous. Yous looks delicious.

  25. Jenni says:

    Great job! Your mezze looks fantastic!!

  26. shaz says:

    Yummy, yum, yum. This spread looks fab Lisa. Never made my own pita bread before but keen to try it out now. That photo of the puffed up pita is so cool!

  27. 5 Star Foodie says:

    A fabulous mezze plate! I love the presentation of wrapped up homemade pitas and your hummus with cashews sounds amazing!

  28. Beautiful presentation. Your pitas are perfect. We have similar recipe for the shish taouk. Your muhammar looks so good. They are very red compared to mine perhaps it’ll depend on the color of the pepper?

  29. Sophie says:

    MMMMMM,..;everything looks so amazing & so tasty, Lisamichele!!

    You have made again a wonderful feast for the eyes & mouth!!

    A grand presentation too! mmmmmmmm,…all the way!

  30. Thank you for your visit and such nice comment on my blog! When I was scrolling through the pictures of this month’s challenge and saw your pictures, I immediately wanted to be eating at YOUR table! Everything looks wonderful!

  31. Phoo-D says:

    I love your falafel- they are making me hungry just looking at them! What a feast. Great job with this challenge!

  32. monkeyshines says:

    If that’s what ‘boring’ mezze look like, I can’t wait to see LisaMezze. It all looks fantastic. I have major pita envy – yours came out so perfectly. they are just delicious, aren’t they?!

    Love the fattoush too – so refreshing. well, really, love it all!

  33. angelica says:

    amazing traveling mezze! Your rolled pita looks amazing! what a great way to “carry” around your mezze on the midnight express, lol. Great job on the challenge!

  34. As I’m sitting here trying to decide what to finally eat for breakfast, my stomach is growling at each tasty picture you have on here. Everything looks amazingly delicious!! I love the pita bread and have been looking for a good recipe–it seems like this one is the winner!! I hope all is well with you–I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve chatted with you. 🙂

  35. Rose says:

    WOW girl! Everything looks SOOOOO good! Now I’m craving greek! I love your silly humor, btw 😉

  36. Juliana says:

    Wow, everything looks so good…love middle eastern food…what a nice treat 🙂

  37. Sarah says:

    Cashew hummus was a brilliant idea! I don’t think there is anything plain Jane about your mezze spread. That last falafel picture could be out of a magazine.

  38. Margie says:

    It all looks so enticing but I really want to pluck one of those falafels off the page and dive right into that bowl of muhamara. Amezzeing indeed! YUM.

  39. sophia says:

    Oh wow. If someone presented to me…well, I wouldn’t even get in a single bite because I might faint with joy and delight. What a lovely spread!

  40. Kelly says:

    What beautiful photos and your mezze looks amazing! Thanks for the comments over on my blog, the baklava was also a first for me and I was really happy with it. I’d never had it before, but I will be making it again – and soon!! YUMMY!

  41. Thanks for stopping by my post. Your pita is perfection and I love it tied up. Great pics of great mezze.

  42. Lisa, I LOVE the idea of travelling through food. One bite I’m in Greece and another I’m in India? Yes please! Sterling job as always, you always excel!

  43. pragmaticattic says:

    Fabulous, Lisa! My favorite foods, beautifully presented. Love it. Very impressive getting all your pitas to puff like that. I can sometimes get them to puff, sometimes . . . not so much. (any secrets?)

    • lisamichele says:

      No secrets other than a really hot preheated 450F to 500F oven and not rolling the pita paper thin. I did that initially, and my first two didn’t puff. Tasted great, though 🙂

  44. elra says:

    Hi Lisa, would love to be invited to taste your Middle Eastern array of delicious food. It is really mouthwatering everything you post here. love muhammara, it’s my most favorite dip, and I make it really really spicy, spicier then their original version.

  45. Pat says:

    Oh my goodness Lisa! This looks so delicious! I love Middle Eastern food and feel fortunate that Brooklyn has some excellent authentic restaurants which I frequent. I love falafel ..chickpea balls and fresh pita bread is out of this universe.

    Everything you made looks so wonderful! The chicken kebabs looks so delectable. I really have to stop procrastinating and get back to doing Daring Cooks Challenges again..I am really missing out!

    April is fast approaching and we will see our pinstripe men again! 🙂

  46. Pat says:

    Oh my goodness Lisa! This looks so delicious! I love Middle Eastern food and feel fortunate that Brooklyn has some excellent authentic restaurants which I frequent. I love falafel ..chickpea balls and fresh pita bread is the best!

    Everything you made looks so wonderful! The chicken kebabs looks so delectable. I really have to stop procrastinating and get back to doing Daring Cooks Challenges again..I am really missing out!

    April is fast approaching and we will see our pinstripe men again! YAY! 🙂
    ♥ Pat

  47. Nadia says:

    This sort of Middle Eastern mezze is my favorite and I wish I would eat it everyday! Everything looks so delicious! Great job! I feel like making all of this right now 🙂

  48. Krista says:

    Oooeee! Absolutely gorgeous and SCRUMPTIOUS! 🙂

  49. Gorgeous………..Puffy pitas….and the Falafel looks heavenly. I want to sink my teeth into some………

  50. Linda says:

    Cashew hummus? I think I am in love!

  51. mangiodasola says:

    That’s it! I’m going to your house! Wow!! That spread is AMAZING!!! It’s so enticing. Goodness. You did a fantastic job on this challenge. *applause*

  52. Marcellina says:

    What a delicious variety of mezze! It’s 9 in the morning and now I’m starving after looking at your gorgeous pics. This is something I must try. It must have taken you ages to get it all ready and organised. This pitas look fantastic.

  53. Nadjibella says:

    A real oriental mezze.

  54. Sue says:

    WOW! You really went to town-what a FEAST!!! 🙂

  55. Sue says:

    FYI…I have an award for you on my blog:)

  56. trissalicious says:

    What a display! Amazing! The cashew hummus is such a great idea!

  57. junglefrog says:

    Ooooo, this looks sooo amazing Lisa! I am not sure how I ended up missing your post, but this is just fabulous… 🙂

  58. Michele says:


    Your food is just amazing and I love your write-up! Everything you made looks so delicious and your pita looks perfect. Wonderful photos!

    Thank you so much for cooking with me!!

  59. Dan says:

    WOW that’s my kind of spread. Falafel looks great and the taboule and hummus yum yum. Even the chicken looks tempting. Photos looks great too! Well done.

  60. Lori says:

    A very beautiful spread here Lisa. You are a very talented lady.

    I would lovet o have that falafel pita right now. I just love falafel!

  61. Lisa,
    Your pitas puffed up so perfectly! And the spread you laid out for yout Mezze table looks fantastic! You seem to have boundless energy – cooking all those delicious morsels, taking the appetizing photos and the descriptive writing. Always a pleasure reading your challenge results.

  62. Jamie says:

    Oooh you did hearts, too? Great minds think alike, huh? And I love your version with chocolate melted into the coffee? Wow! Brilliant and I want to try that! But personally, I am hooked on the espresso-Amaretto version. Yum! This was a fun challenge. And I am too impressed by your mascarpone! Fabulous! Gorgeous Tiramisu’s too, way prettier than mine!

    But one sec – instant vanilla pudding? Seriously? How horrid is that? Especially when Tiramisu is so easy!

  63. Veganpower says:

    Oh o_O what’s a delicious mezze ! Of course it’s Lisa Michele website 😉
    Nice photo, great job !

    Yummy yummy ♥

  64. justcooknyc says:

    oh wow, what a feast. the bread looks awesome.

  65. Andy says:

    Holy cow Lisa, it looks like you are an amazing cook (I love this type of food) as well as photographer. Being new at blogging really gives me an appreciation for how much work this must have been. I am looking forward to a mezze night now!!


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