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Easy Mezze Platter

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As per usual, black and white was the order of the day on Saturday afternoon, as friends and neighbours got together and prepared to watch the Sharks take the Curry Cup from the feisty Lions. Sadly that was not the case, and the Lions were worthy winners, but not for long, as our Sharks will be back on form shortly boys! So beware.

After a long season I am so sick of chips, dips, biltong, or Boerewors being the snacks of the game that I quickly rustled up this easy Mezze platter, served in my big Mozambique fish bowl (SHARK?) and wow did it go down a storm. Keep this in mind for a lovely summer lunch or Christmas starter – more elegantly served than in this rustic fish dish please – perhaps on a flat platter or French bread board. And much healthier than ten bowls of C&D’s.

The only prep required is to roast the sweet peppers, and to make the pesto which takes five minutes if you have all the ingredients.

Easy Mezze Platter: as a starter this will feed 8

1 cup Danish Feta Cheese ,cubed              1 cup of de-pipped Olives

2-3 handfuls of rocket                                  10 thin slices of prosciutto ham broken up into small bits

15 – 20 mini pita breads                              ½ cup sun dried tomatoes

For the sweet peppers:

6 sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange)          1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic for the peppers                  ½ cup of olive oil

5 ml Maldon salt                                                  5 ml sugar

10 ml lemon juice

For the basil pesto:

3 -4 handfuls of fresh basil (no stalks)                200g toasted pine nuts

¾ cup olive oil                                                          5 – 10 ml Maldon salt (to taste)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese                            1 clove garlic  

Method:

  1.  Pre-heat your oven to 180 oC and on a baking sheet evenly spread your thinly sliced sweet peppers, onion, and roughly chopped garlic. Pour over the olive oil, and add the salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Mix together so that all pieces are coated, and spread into a thin even layer of peppers before roasting for 30 – 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes, mix the peppers around to ensure they are not burning. If they are not soft enough after 40 minutes, turn the oven down to 160 oCand cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes until soft, juice and some edges becoming slightly charred. Remove and set aside to cool.
  2. To make the pesto, using a food processor, or liquidizer, add your pine nuts, clove of garlic and drizzle the oil into these until a paste starts to form. Add the basil leaves, Parmesan and lastly the salt. Taste and add more salt if necessary.    
  3. To assemble the Mezze, take a flat serving dish, and starting with the pesto, served in a bowl, group the Danish Feta, the olives, tomatoes, and the rocket around the pesto. Now gently mix the peppers amongst the rocket, using the olive oil from the peppers as the ‘salad dressing’. Serve with warmed pita bread.                                                                                                                                                                                      

The basil and rocket was straight out of my vege garden!

I use a tablespoon of the olive oil to fry the pine nuts and garlic in before cooling and processing. It gives them a caramelized, really nutty flavour.

I don’t have the perfect blender machine to make pesto but use my magimix liquidizer. It makes it a little fine for my liking as I quite like a pesto with texture. The option is to make it by hand in a mortar and pestle if you like it chunky.

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