Making room in the refrigerator with mezze

Our refrigerator, American-(plus! Sub-Zero!)-sized though it is, has been a bit crowded of late. Steve has been storing large amounts of local apples (though he does eat quite a lot of them), and our root vegetable hoard has kept growing with each dwindling week of our CSA. In an effort to keep ahead of things, we recently treated ourselves to some lovely mezze.


Claudia Roden, whose cookbook The New Book of Middle Eastern Food we grabbed these recipes from, writes that the word mezze comes from the Arabic t’mazza, meaning “to savor in little bites.” (This is a problem for Steve, who has a habit of taking very large bites.)  We recently cleared a bag of eggplant, a bunch of carrots, some sweet red peppers and a few oranges from our refrigerator for a meal of mezze. As a bonus, it also took care of some of a bottle of overly-aged orange blossom water (something we bought a while back for a reason we currently forget) and some yogurt and tahini (both safely within their “use by” dates).

A tiny bit of work on Steve’s part, including a quick consult of this old blog post turned out some lavash and baba ganoush. Michelle spent some more time preparing a not-as-good-recipe-as-our-usual kibbeh, a yogurt and tahini dip and these two delightful salads. The carrot salad’s bright and lively citrus tang, enhanced by the orange blossom water, was an excellent counterpoint to the other dishes. The mixture of roasted pepper, capers and preserved lemon worked both as a condiment for the kibbeh as well as eating it straight from the bowl. Our only complaint with it was that we made too little of it.

Carrot Orange Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

Our refrigerator may be less stuffed at this point, but the holiday season approaches and we’re sure to need to clear space again. Should the same ingredients be “in the way” then (possibly with some fresher orange blossom water), we’ll most likely manage to make this mezze assortment again.


(adapted from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food)

  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Lemon
  • Orange blossom water
  • Cilantro

Grate or shred some peeled carrots and place in a medium bowl. Peel and supreme an orange (or 2 or 3, depending on how many carrots you used) and cut the supremes into halves or thirds. Add to carrots. Squeeze the juice of the orange remnants over the salad. Add the juice of a lemon and a splash of orange blossom water. Toss with chopped cilantro. Refrigerate.


(adapted from Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food)

  • Red peppers (bell or other sweet types)
  • Good olive oil
  • Capers (preferably salted-type, rinsed and drained)
  • Peel of preserved lemon, cut into very small pieces
  • Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F. Place peppers on a cookie sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, turning once, until skins are blistered. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.

Peel peppers and remove seeds and stems. Slice flesh into narrow strips and place in a bowl.

Add olive oil, drained capers, preserved lemon and pepper and toss.



  1. I just love Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food, great to cook from, great just to read. Like your twists on her recipes, very nice. I’m currently making do with elderly temporary refrigeration, makes you realize that technology has come a long way when leafy greens have a shelf life of 2 days

    • Isn’t it great? I have several others, too. Her Arabesque is a beautiful book, but I must admit I find it repetitive of the recipes in this one. Often I just find myself looking in the refrigerator and seeing what’s there and then just looking at the index. You can almost always put together a good mezze from her recipes, no matter what’s in the ‘fridge!

      • Roden’s Book of Jewish Food is my second favourite of her publications Michelle. I learned an enormous amount from reading it and added some amazing recipes to my repertoire. I highly recommends it

  2. That sounds delicious. I saw a great Rick Stein series recently, where he travels from Venice to Istanbul. The programmes on Albania, Greece and Turkey where particularly good. I imagine they have or will broadcast them in America, but if not you might find them on YouTube 😉

    • We never get the Rick Stein stuff here, which is a pity! I’d love to see those about that area. Really all we get of British TV is BBC America which, sadly, is not very good most of the time. (I do love Star Trek Next Generation, but, really, why’s that on there? I mean, Sir Patrick Stewart, OK, but it was an American show!)

  3. I love Claudia Roden’s book as well–but haven’t even scratched the surface I am afraid. Thanks for the tip! This looks like an amazing meal (meals).

  4. I’ve been meaning to buy Claudia Roden’s books and those exact bowls that pictured. I great way to clear out the fridge. I have the same issue with my orange blossom water as I bought it to use it for one recipe and it has since been sitting in my pantry, idle.

    • Isn’t it funny about the bowls? I saw them in a store and, though I’m really not much of a shopper, thought, “I’VE GOT TO HAVE THEM!!” Then, a day or so later, I saw them everywhere in blogs from all over the world! They really are sweet. And, yes, on the orange blossom water. I was so delighted to find something to use it in. (And it does have a lovely smell and flavor.)

      • Food blogging has its hazards and cutlery/crockery/plate hoarding is one of it. I just saw them in our landlords’ holiday home today. They’ve invaded NZ too. I’ve used orange blossom water in my orange citrus cake and I find that it works very well with any almond-citrus dessert.

  5. All very elegant. Sadly, when I get around to clearing out the refrigerator, there is usually blue stuff growing on the vegetables. Not a proud boast. This looks excellent. Glad to see you made it home safe too.

    • Ha! We’ve been known to have that happen, too. Despite all best efforts!

      And, yeah, we’re home. Wait … did I go on vacation recently? Isn’t it amazing how quickly it evaporates?

    • Thanks, Amanda. It’s a great book. It’s my go-to when just looking in the refrigerator and seeing what’s there and trying to figure out how to make a meal of it. 🙂

  6. I am such a Claudia Roden devotee and you’ve made some of my all-time favourites when time is short and the fridge is either bursting or in our case bare with only a few carrots, peppers and the whole hoard of condiments available. A mezze spread is always something so delightful, we used to go to a Middle Eastern restaurant when we loved in another town and just order a 26 dish mezze starter as our main – heaven. N.

  7. I love this sort of food….I was very taken by the red peppers, capers and preserved lemon. There is always tahini in the store cupboard…I use it a lot and get my son to bring it over from the Middle Eastern shop at the end of his road in London….that particular shop is like Aladdin’s Cave for this sort of cooking.

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