It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. A blanket of (melting) snow covers the ground, the decorations are out, Christmas music is on the radio, and I’m counting down the days until I can eat some delicious Christmas foods.
At Christmas, Armenians really pull out all the stops. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you grew up: Armenians always make a ton of food. This feat is accomplished by making an exorbitant number of dishes to ensure that each person gets to eat the thing they love, and also to avoid the embarrassment and sheer horror that arises from not having enough food. Every year, we have about 10 appetizers. Maybe more, depending on what counts as an appetizer. In fact, almost everyone fills up on appetizers and hardly has room for the meal (don’t worry, we make room). Since the appetizers are so good, we can’t give them up. All of the Armenian foods that are too labor intensive or decadent to make during the rest of the year make an appearance at the Christmas table, and we all go completely nuts eating them.
Since our Armenian appetizers, or mezze, are so good, I wanted to share some recipes with you. I present to you a group of recipes that you might find at any Armenian Christmas (or New Years, or Easter) celebration. I limited the recipes to the more traditional ones that you’d find at a Middle Eastern table, but you can certainly get creative with flavors and ingredients: add almost anything to your hummus or baba ghanoush dips, swap out grains for gluten-free options, fill turnovers with something different–the possibilities are endless.
What are your favorite mezze recipes? Comment below!
Traditional Armenian and Middle Eastern Mezze Recipes
Spinach Pastries, or Fatayer Sabanekh, from Little Sunny Kitchen, are tasty pastries filled with spinach. These make great appetizers or snacks.
Super Crispy Falafel Bites by Healthy World Cuisine could be mezze or a vegetarian main dish.
Muhammara Spicy Red Pepper Dip by Cooking Chat is a flavorful, easy to make dip.
Hummus and baba ghanoush from Occasionally Eggs are a non-negotiable part of a Middle Eastern table. Hummus is a chickpea and tahini dip, while baba ghanoush is a roasted eggplant dip. Both are vegan, and both are delicious.
Tabbouleh by A Cedar Spoon is the quintessential Middle Eastern salad.
I have a particular soft spot for gluten-free recipes, and this GF Quinoa Tabbouleh from What A Girl Eats looks absolutely delicious.
Fattoush by Simply Lebanese is a light and bright salad that gets a little extra crunch from crispy pita bread.
Mujadara by Innocent Delight is a lentil and rice dish. While it is more of a side dish or even main dish, but could be served as an appetizer as well.
Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves by Simply Lebanese are one of my favorites. There are different versions (meat-filled vs meatless) that you can try.
Mercimek Koftesi, or lentil kofta, by My Cooking Journey is one of my favorite vegan dishes (Armenians know this as vospov kufta)! Eat it on its own or inside some pita bread.
Eetch by White Coat Pink Apron is an Armenian bulgur salad, and is one of the easiest and tastiest mezze recipes out there. Spoon some inside a piece of pita bread, on top of a cracker or just eat it with a fork.
Homemade Pita Bread by The Urben Life is the perfect accompaniment to all of these dishes, and tastes so much better than store bought!