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I Need Help with a Mediterranean Menu!

Hi! I'm cooking up a dinner for a whole lot of people. It has been named, "30 Tastes of the Mediterranean". Stipulations include:

1. Recipes must not be overly complicated as there needs to be time to make everything.
2. Some recipes need to accommodate special diets, like gluten-free, nightshade-free, and dairy-free.
3. Everything has to be awesome.

If any of you peeps have good recipes on hand that would be a great fit for my menu, I'd appreciate your comments and help!

Here are the answers to your potential questions:

-I have one other cook and one volunteer (for a few hours).

-I plan to make many things ahead, such as tapenade, Skordalia, sauces, as well as
prepping single ingredients. I will be starting at least 1 if not 2 days before.

-The restrictions for GF, nightshade free and dairy-free are not for the same person, so we need some dishes to be under each category but not all three at once.

-As we are still waiting to hear about the number of people to show, I am guessing I'll be making food from upwards of 30 people. But I am very familiar with scaling recipes and I do well with conceptual cooking. I don't need specifics unless it is imperative for the dish.

-I don't think I need to tie myself down to 30 dishes, rather, I would like to offer 30 main flavors. In other words, olive oil, balsamic, cumin, basil, grapes, olives, cheeses, etc... Many of which will find themselves sharing dishes.

-Thank you! Thank you!

p.s. I have a local farm who will be providing greens, herbs, and other fresh seasonal produce. I would like the dinner to accentuate fresh flavors as well as accommodating to a warm summer night.

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  1. Salad of watermelon, mint, cucumbers, black olives, feta, black pepper, olive oil & lime juice. Mix the first three ingredients and keep separate from the others (which can also be mixed together and held) until just before serving.

    Make a marinade for chicken or lamb cubes with plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, lots of garlic, S&P, allspice.

    pitted dates stuffed with lebneh, rolled in fresh dill, with a walnut half pressed on top

    Canned fava beans heated, topped with a slurry of tahini, chopped garlic, parsley, lemon juice, S&P, with an optional shake of harissa or hot pepper flakes on top

    1. for a GF and DF option, make tabbouleh with quinoa instead of bulgur.

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Or millet...it approximates the texture of bulgur, although I love quinoa too.

      2. On a recent trip to Israel, we had a tomato/cucumber/onion salad EVERYWHERE we went. It was very fresh and delicious. Just dice up all the veggies, add salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. It's especially delicious with felafel, hummus, and tahini on fresh baked pita bread.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bards4

          that reminds me...turkish shepherd's salad. cheese is served on the side, so it's GF & DF, but you can't really do anything to make it nightshade free [well you could, but then it would be a different dish].

          i posted my personal "recipe" [it's a guesstimate] in another recent thread...


          but there are certainly tons of others out there in recipeland.

        2. Here's a dish sure to please your gluten free friends. You said you don't need specifics so I'll just outline this for you:
          Brine boneless chicken breasts for about two hours
          Towel dry them and dust with corn starch
          Shake off corn starch
          Dip in beaten egg; then dip in mixture of sesame seeds, curry powder and GF bread crumbs (from the GF section of your supermarket)
          Drizzle with melted butter and bake (350 - 400) on parchment for 45 - 55 minutes or until proper interior temperature is achieved.
          Can be made up ahead of time and refrigerated (covered of course) until next day.
          I fed 160 very happy people with this entree and they stood in line to get the recipe.

          1. I forgot to mention dolmades -- easy to get a gluten, dairy and nightshade free filling made for them, and easy to do ahead. This time of year, you may be able to get fresh grape leaves as well, so even better.

            1. Serving tapas style might help you out and that type of small plates dining tends to be common throughout the Mediterranean. Just off the top of my head:
              Stuffed grape leaves (meat and vegetarian styles)
              Blue cheese grapes
              Charcuterie (chorizos, salame, soujouk, merguez)
              Rice salad
              Rice balls
              Bean dips (white bean, hummus, fava, etc.)
              Kibbeh nayyeh

              1. How about a chilled soup that you could prepare beforehand...maybe a gazpacho?

                1. Mujadarrah. There are a million spellings for this, but it is a very common middle eastern egetarian lentil+rice+onion dish. There was a longish posting here on CH recently with recipes and links.
                  An italian antipasti or middle eastern mezze would be a great appetizer that could satisfy everyone.
                  Cannellini beans + chick peas simmered with sage and olive oil is classic italian med. Similarily, same beans pureed into a paste with tahini is a classic mezze dish.
                  On the bean theme, fava beans are a huge med ingredient. A common middle eastern method is to simmer with fennel+onion and serve on artichoke bottoms.
                  For heartier fare, why not lollipop lamb chops marinated in mint+garlic?
                  And for a GF, dairy free dessert, I suggest a frozen granita (prosecco and almost any fruit combination is to die for!)

                  1. All wonderful replies! Thank you everyone! I will post my menu in a couple of days once I can sort through all this deliciousness.

                    1. Grilled vegetables (eggplant halves, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, etc., taste great, look great and, since they don't suffer from being served at room temperature, can be made a few hours ahead of time.

                      Fritatta can be made ahead and served at room temp.

                      Marinate and grill split quail (cumin-rubbed are a personal favourite). Up here at least they can be found for about $1.50 each (i.e. 75 cents a serving) in Asian and Middle Eastern groceries. Again, they don't suffer from being served at room temp.

                      Bean stews and salads. One of my go-to dishes for buffets is chickpeas dressed with vinegar, olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh herbs and olives. And the classic Spanish chickpea and chorizo stew rocks.

                      1. How about zucchini torta? My sister has been trying to replicate the recipe from the Genova Delicatessan in Oakland: