Mediterranean mezze-style bento recipe


A mezze is a selection of appetizers, seen in various cuisines around the Mediterranean. This bento is a mini version of a mezze, with two kinds of dip, a simple fresh salad, and koftas soft meatballs made of lamb or beef.

  • Yield: 1 Serving


  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb (450 g) ground beef or lamb
  • ¼ cup (5 g) roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, leaves only
  • 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • greens to line the bento
Baba Ghanoush and Edamame Hummus
  • 1 large or 5 small eggplants (to yield 2 cups [340 g] eggplant pulp before draining)
  • 3 Tbsp tahini or sesame paste
  • 2 cloves Roasted Garlic
  • ⅓ cup (80 g) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • paprika or shichimi pepper, for decoration, optional
  • 2 cups (150 g) frozen or fresh shelled edamame beans
  • 1 Tbsp tahini or sesame paste
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves Roasted Garlic
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
Roasted Garlic and Parsley, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
  • 1 head garlic
  • olive oil, for sprinkling
  • salt, for sprinkling
  • 4-inch (10 cm) length English cucumber
  • 1 small tomato
  • ⅓ cup (7 g) roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, leaves only
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make It
  1. To mix in a food processor, cut the onion into wedges. Insert the chopping blade in your food processor and chop up the onion finely. Remove the onion and set aside. Put the meat in the food processor. Pulse until it is ground to a finer texture. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to mix well.
  2. To hand mix, get the butcher to double-grind the meat for you in order to achieve a smooth texture. Chop the parsley and coriander leaves as finely as possible. Chop the onion very finely, or grate it with a handheld grater. Mix all the ingredients together with your hands until combined.
  3. To form the koftas, divide the meat mixture into about 24 small, flattened balls. Heat up a stovetop grill pan or frying pan over medium-high heat, or preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Drizzle a little olive oil over the balls, and turn to coat in the oil.
  4. Grill or pan-fry the koftas for about 5 minutes until browned on the bottom side. Turn and cook for an additional 4–5 minutes on the other side until they are browned all over and cooked through. Alternatively, bake in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 25–30 minutes.
  5. Pack the koftas on a bed of greens.
  6. Baba Ghanoush
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the skin is brown and the eggplant itself is somewhat shriveled. Take out and let cool.
  8. When cool, cut in half and scrape out the flesh into a colander. Let the excess moisture drain off for 15–20 minutes.
  9. Put the eggplant and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth.
  10. Let rest in the refrigerator, well covered, for at least several hours to allow the flavors to mellow.
  11. Pack into a small container that fits into your bento box and drizzle a little olive oil on top. To add some color, sprinkle on a little paprika or shichimi pepper.
  12. Edamame Hummus
  13. Put the edamame in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the beans are tender. Drain and cool under running water to fix the bright green color. Reserve 2 or 3 edamame to use as garnish.
  14. Put all the ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  15. Pack into a small container that fits into your bento box. Garnish on top with the reserved whole edamame beans.
  16. Roasted Garlic
  17. Remove the outer skin from the head of garlic. Separate into cloves, and place the cloves, unpeeled, on a piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. To use, squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
  18. Roasted garlic keeps in the refrigerator for a week, and can also be frozen for up to a month. To freeze, squeeze the softened garlic out of the skins and press flat in a plastic bag. Seal the bag well to store. Break off pieces to use when required.
  19. Parsley, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
  20. De-seed the cucumber if necessary by cutting it in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon. Slice the cucumber thinly. De-seed the tomato and cut into wedges.
  21. Mix all the ingredients together. Allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator for maximum flavor. This salad will keep in the refrigerator for 2–3 days.
  22. Pack with an ice pack to keep the salad nice and cool.

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