Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mid-week Mezze

After dutifully plodding through leftovers on Monday and Tuesday, we finally busted loose for some much more exciting fare tonight, munching our way through a variety of savory snacks. It was a nice way to spend an April evening.

Stuffed grape leaves have been on my mind for a while now; I've had them in restaurants,  but I had never made them myself, so I was excited to try.

I stuffed the leaves with some leftover brown basmati rice, chick peas, lemon juice, and fresh mint. I love the tang of the leaves with the taste of fresh mint.  On the side (lower right corner in photo), I made some Bulgarian-style tofu yogurt, and added some cucumber and parsley to it. The recipe is from Bryanna Clark Grogan, and I read about it in this post from The Airy Way blog...Zoa from The Airy Way is right:  this stuff is's not sweet like store-bought soy yogurts tend to be, and you can add any flavors to it to make it as sweet or savory as you like. Thanks to both Bryanna Clark Grogan and Zoa!

This plate has some marinated asparagus with butter bean and rosemary hummus and some kalamata and manzanilla olives on the side. The idea for the asparagus came from Alicia of Vegan Epicurean, when she posted  about the benefits (both health- and taste-wise) of eating raw asparagus and provided a quick and delicious recipe for making a marinated asparagus salad. I've always loved asparagus in any form, and this made a crunchy delicious dipper for the hummus. Thanks Alicia! ( And yes, we double dip...hee-hee.)

For the hummus, I blended 1 cup cooked butter beans, 1 small clove garlic, two tablespoons of ground flax seed,  1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and I think about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Over the top we drizzled some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled fresh rosemary to taste. 

I have two containers of French sorrel in my garden and I'm trying to use it on a regular basis. It tastes like sour apples to me, which makes sense because it's in the same family as rhubarb. Lately, I've taken to pinching off leaves and snacking on them while I potter around in the garden...I find the taste addictive. Above,  is a small-chopped, horiatiki-style salad on sorrel leaves. I didn't have any tomato, so red pepper, kalamata olives, red onion, and cucumber sufficed along with some lemon juice, black pepper, and olive oil.

And finally, here are some stewed tomatoes and artichokes along with whole wheat pita and some carrot crackers that I found at Whole Foods. The artichokes are stewed with fresh tomato, shallot, and garlic...I have some pretty pictures of the baby artichokes, so I'll post about that separately.

I leave you with a wee asparagus sandwich :

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin


  1. Rose,

    What a great dinner! we love to make things like this to snack on instead of eating one large meal. It all sounds divine. Just like a little mid-week celebration.

    I am glad you found time to make the grape leaves. I have been thinking of them ever since you mentioned them.

    talk to you soon,

  2. What a fantastic, beautifully presented meal. It looks so wonderful I want to make one exactly like it! It reminds me of the wonderful mezze cooking class I took at PCC.

  3. Wow, Rose! If I didn't know better, I would swear you took these photos at a restaurant! A very fancy, very exclusive, very expensive, 5-star Mediterranean restaurant! :-) It's all so beautiful, it seems a shame to eat it! (Yeah, that wouldn't have stopped me, either! LOL) I'm impressed with your culinary, presentation and photography skills. Everything always looks so lovely and appealing!

    And you got to dine al fresco, looks like! Lucky you!

    (We love dining on appetizers sometimes... or what we call our "munchy meals!") :-)

  4. Again, this is way too amazing. I would be pleased with myself just making the Hummus or just marinating the Asparagus, but to stuff Grape Leaves and steam Artichokes too! Anyway, I'll keep this dinner in mind so I can buy the items already made, but serve them together.

  5. Rose,
    What a splendid feast. I can see me hovering at this table :D

    I've grown sorrel in the past and do love the flavour, but I am envious of yours - so big! My leaves never grow that large.

    It must have been fiddly making the dolmades, a labour of love, but worth every mouthful I am sure.

  6. Laloofah is right. Your beautiful photos do look like they were taken at a fancy restaurant. It must have taken awhile to prepare such a fancy meal with so many options. That sure is impressive for a week night. The grape leaves look really great. They would make an excellent party snack. I'm totally impressed and inspired.

  7. Alicia,

    I was thinking of you when making the grape leaves...I bought a bottle of the Mezzetta brand leaves and there are so many in there...I'm not sure how long they will keep in the bottle after being opened, so I guess I'll have to eat grape leaves fairly often for the next few weeks...I wonder whether there are other ways to eat them?

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks so much. It really did hit the is hard to go wrong with this type of food. The PCC seems to have a lot of interesting cooking classes; I remember you also posting about a cooking class you took around vegan Japanese cooking (or similar...if I remember rightly); it sounded so interesting and fun. I live close by...I must look into signing up for a class sometime.


    You are really so sweet...and I assume not prone to exaggerate from time to time (LOL), but seriously, it is very nice of you to say those things. As it turned out, we didn't dine outside...I took the photos on the sun porch for the light, but we ended up eating a little later on after sundown, and we moved the food inside...outdoor dining season is just around the corner though!


    Again, you're too kind. You should definitely have a mezze night, whether you make it yourself, or buy some is a fun way to snack and enjoy a bit of vino!


    I grew the sorrel for the first time last year, so it is a newly found veggie for me. I do love the flavor too! It reminds me of eating little sour apples of the tree when I was a child. I thought the grape leaves would be fiddley too, but ones I got were really large, and they tend to be slightly tough, so they were fairly easy to fold and work with without too much hassle.


    Thanks for your kind words...I did have some extra time in the kitchen yesterday because I got to work from home, and I did take a few short breaks to potter in the kitchen ;)

  8. Lord, is this gorgeous! I'm glad to have been able to inspire even a tiny part of this beautiful meal, though I have never done anything nearly so stupendous with the tofu yogurt myself.

    I have had sorrel in my garden for many years. [If you don't know this already] it's almost the first thing up in the spring and you can pick leaves off it all summer long. It's a hardy perennial that doesn't spread except by splitting, so if you like it you might consider taking it out of the pots and planting it in the garden. Unless where you live is someplace where plants in pots don't always die off in the that case, never mind...sigh...

  9. Exaggerate? Moi? Never! :-) If anything, my compliments were an understatement!

  10. Oh my goodness. Everything looks so incredible. I'm seriously drooling now!

  11. Hi Zoa,

    I have to say, your posts are often an inspiration in my kitchen. Thanks for the info on the sorrel...I would plant it in the ground, but we are renting, so I like to keep any long-term plants in pots as long as I can...easier to pick up and go should we have to leave. :)

  12. Laloofah, are a sweetie!


    Thanks for stopping by, I must say you had me drooling too over your Thai pizza yesterday. :)

  13. Everything looks gorgeous! It's funny, I was working in my garden yesterday and looking at my grapevine thinking how nice it will be later in the summer when I can make stuffed grape leaves. And then I come here and you've done it! Just lovely:) I've never had sorrel, it looks so pretty.

  14. Hi Janet,

    That sounds like such a wonderful and fun thing to have grape vines in your garden. I'd love to get some different ideas of what to stuff them with...I'll be looking forward to yours!

  15. What a great dinner! I love it when we have a little bit of a variety of foods. Mine are more made for the juvenile set, though. These would be much appreciated by my husband and me on date night! :)

  16. Hi BlessedMama,

    I agree, this is the perfect sort of food for a fun date night, sitting, munching, and chatting.

  17. omg.. this all look so fresh and good!

  18. Eve,

    Thanks for stopping was a wonderful way to spend an evening.


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