Move over, charcuterie boards — here come meze plates!

Meze is a collection of small dishes commonly served in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Balkan regions. The word “meze” (also spelled mezze) comes from the Persian “mazze,” meaning “taste” or “snack.”

Meze is typically served as appetizers or snacks and can also be combined to create a full meal. These dishes are designed to be shared and enjoyed slowly, often accompanied by drinks and lively conversation.

Meze plates can vary widely depending on the region, but they often include:

  • Fresh Vegetables: Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, olives, sugar snap peas, greens (as a base).
  • Fruits: Apricots (fresh or dried), figs, dates, grapes, berries, or apple & pear wedges offer a delicious contrast to salty cheeses or briny olives.
  • Dips and Spreads: Hummus (chickpea dip), baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber dip), and muhammara (red pepper and walnut dip).
  • Cheeses: Feta, halloumi, and other regional cheeses.
  • Seafood: Grilled or marinated fish, shrimp, calamari, octopus, canned sardines, or canned or smoked salmon.
  • Grilled Meats: Kebabs, lamb, chicken.
  • Legumes: Lentil salads, bean salads, falafel (fried chickpea balls). Veg(etari)ans might like adding cubed, baked tofu (hot or cold) or edamame beans.
  • Breads: Pita, flatbreads.

Meze are not only delicious and convivial, they typically provide a wide range of potential health benefits, too:

  • Rich in Nutrients: Many meze dishes are made with vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I created the meze plate shown in the picture above for a class on bone health; among others, it supplies around 800 mg of calcium (2/3 of the daily recommended intake for a postmenopausal woman).
  • Healthy Fats: Olive oil is a common ingredient in meze, providing monounsaturated fats that are good for heart health. Nuts and seeds also contribute nutritious fats.
  • High in Fiber: Vegetables, legumes, and whole grains found in meze are high in fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and supports prolonged feelings of satiety (fullness) after eating.
  • Protein: Meze often includes protein-rich foods like beans, chickpeas (in hummus and falafel), and meats or seafood, which are needed to maintain strong bones & muscles and overall health.
  • Variety and Moderation: The small portions and variety in meze encourage moderation and a balanced intake of different food groups, which aligns with dietary recommendations for health.

More reasons to love meze plates: they are super quick & easy to whip up and require minimal cooking, which is a great boon on a hot summer’s evening. Ready-to-eat items in jars or from the deli counter (like Peppadew or roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, olives, etc.) are easy to stock in your fridge & pantry and can be whipped out at a moment’s notice. Halloumi cheese keeps forever in the fridge, so I usually keep one or two packs to hand, too.

I also have a stash of canned Mediterranean snacks to hand, like Trader Joe’s delicious canned fish (sardines, lightly smoked salmon, and mussels), Dolmas (rice-stuffed vine leaves), Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce, Greek chickpeas with Parsley & Cumin, or their Grecian-Style Eggplant with Tomatoes & Onions.

A small caveat: some classic meze foods, like cheese, cured meat, olives, and other preserved foods may be higher in sodium; try to balance preserved foods with fresh foods, and limit dressings, especially if your doctor has advised you to eat a reduced-sodium diet.

Meze Plates

Keyword: 15 Minutes Max., 30 Minutes Max., Appetizers & Snacks, Dairy-Free (or can be), Dips, Sauces & Dressings, Gluten-Free (or can be), Keto (or can be), Low-Carb, Lunch, Meat & Chicken, Salads, Vegan (or can be), Vegetarian (or can be)
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 583kcal
A Mediterranean smorgasbord of delicious flavors, colors and textures
Print Recipe


  • 4 oz arugula
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs such as parsley leaves, dill, oregano or a mix of tehse)
  • 6 dolmas (vine leaves stuffed with rice) I buy these canned at Trader Joe's; available at deli counters, too
  • ½ cup artichoke hearts marinated
  • 6 sweet piquante peppers also known as Peppadew peppers; available in jars or at some supermarkets' deli counters. If you can't find them, replace them with roasted red peppers in brine or olive oil (drained)
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 4 inche piece of English cucumber cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 can sardines bone-in (I like Trader Joe's lightly smoked sardines in olive oil); drained
  • ½ cup giant baked beans in tomato sauce I like Trader Joe's Giant Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce; spoon into a small ramekin or mini Mason jar to serve
  • 3 oz halloumi cheese cut into 6 equal slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil to fry the cheese
  • 2 tbsp Greek olive oil dressing like this one; I add 1 minced garlic clove and a tsp of honey to mine


  • Place the arugula and fresh herbs on a large platter or two dining plates. Evenly distribute the stuffed vine leaves, artichoke hearts, peppadew peppers, sugar snap peas, cubed cucumber, and any other ingredients you'd like to add, over the arugula base.
  • Clear a small space among the vegetables for the ramekin containing the beans in tomato sauce and place it on the plate.
  • Warm a medium skillet (preferably non-stick; I use a ceramic-coated skillet) over medium heat; add the tablespoon of olive oil. As soon as the oil shimmers, add the halloumi slices and fry for about 2 minutes; turn over with a spatula or tongs and fry for another 1-2 minutes until golden brown on both sides.
  • Add the halloumi slices to the plate, drizzle each plate with with a tablespoon of the olive oil dressing, and serve immediately (halloumi tastes amazing fresh out of the skillet -- crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside -- but turns rubbery as soon as it cools).


Serving: 1plate | Calories: 583kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 1726mg | Potassium: 956mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 2582IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 740mg | Iron: 5mg