In honor of two very dear friends of mine who just got engaged last night, I’ve made some vegetarian Greek tapas to honor a country they both would love to visit.
The Mediterranean Coast is vibrant and plentiful with fresh vegetables making it so easy to eat healthy so often. Farmers grow eggplant, olives, artichokes and a variety of other vegetables that they incorporate into their daily diet. Greek life would be perfect for me, as meat isn’t such a staple. The most famous eggplant dish, moussaka is found all over Greece and the eggplants from Leonidion are prized for how delicious they are.
I would call today’s recipe a bite sized appetizer, or mezé — Greece’s version of a tapas plate. Perfect for a before dinner bite or as one of many little tapas, it is healthy, filling, and flavorful.
2-3 Eggplants (aubergines) with skin, sliced thinly lengthwise to get about 12 slices
5 tbsp EVOO
3 Cloves Garlic, skin peeled and sliced
1 Cup or 250g Ricotta
1-2 Tomatoes (Sundried also recommended)
3 Whole Wheat Pita, quarted or any Bite-Sized Cracker
1 Large Bundle of Fresh Cilantro
2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
1/3 tsp Ground Cumin
Salt to taste
3/4 Cup or 180 ml EVOO
4-5 tbsp Water
1 tsp Spanish Sherry Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
Warm up your pan on medium heat with olive oil and grill until they are soft. Take another smaller pan and heat up your garlic on low heat and saute until softened, careful not to let them brown. Let cool for about ten minutes and then stir them into the Ricotta Cheese.
For the Cilantro sauce, process the cilantro, garlic, cumin and salt in a food processor until smooth. Gently pour in olive oil and a bit of water and then the vinegar. Keep it on low for a few minutes more until you see the sauce smooth and even.
Spread some cheese on top of your pita or cracker. Add your chopped tomatoes and then lay one slice of Eggplant on top. You can also roll your eggplant and add the tomatoes on the inside, this makes for a bit easier bite, but not necessary to do. Then, take a spoonful of the cilantro sauce and layer on top.
Since I had some extra cilantro and tomato leftover, I made another little tapa of goat cheese and added the sauce on top of that. It really brings out the smooth creamy flavor of the cheese. Feel free to experiment and add other vegetables with this sauce. Roasted Red Peppers also pair wonderfully with it.
This is an easy, fresh, and quick-to-make dish that can transport you to a Greek Island with just a bite.
So cheers to my dear friends on their engagement, and though she doesn’t need much help in the kitchen maybe she can make this tapa when thinking of their honeymoon plans.