Try this super-fast beef mezze recipe this weekend. Inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean, it’s a delicious platter of spice-encrusted roast beef, a spinach raita, a crunchy salad and warm flatbreads.
“I always enjoy a mezze – a table laden with wonderful home-made food to pass around to great friends and family, while the conversation and wine flow” explains John Gregory-Smith. “Before roasting, the beef is smothered in a paste of spices, lemon and garlic, which penetrate the meat while it cooks. My vibrant salad of red onions and tomatoes, with loads of fresh coriander and parsley, and doused in lime juice and olive oil, acts as a side-kick to the beef. My twist on a traditional raita uses spinach stir-fried with garlic and mixed into the cooling yogurt, topped with toasted pine nuts. It’s a heavenly combination” enthuses John. “Just make sure you squeeze all the excess moisture out of the cooked spinach first. My favourite way to eat this meal is to stuff a flatbread with beef and salad, drizzle over plenty of raita, roll it all up and go for it!”
Beef Mezze Recipe
Cooking time: 40 Minutes
For the roast beef
600g/1lb 5oz beef fillet
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the spinach raita
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
30g/1oz/scant ¼ cup pine nuts
200g/7oz baby spinach
225g/8oz/scant 1 cup Greek yogurt
For the onion, tomato and herb salad
2 red onions
2 large tomatoes
2 large handfuls of coriander leaves
2 large handfuls of parsley leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
To serve 4 flatbreads
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and take the beef out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Peel the garlic, then chuck it into a mini food processor, and add the paprika, cumin and ground coriander. Add the olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and blend until smooth.
2. Put the beef in a roasting tin, then tip over the paste and rub it all over the beef. Roast for 30–35 minutes until charred on the outside and beautifully tender on the inside.
3. While the beef cooks, peel and slice the garlic for the raita. Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat and add the pine nuts. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until golden, then remove from the pan and leave to one side. Add the garlic to the pan. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until golden, then add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Continue to stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until the spinach has completely wilted. Tip the spinach into a fine sieve and leave to drain.
4. To make the salad, peel and finely slice the red onions, then chuck them into a mixing bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the limes and add a good pinch of salt. Mix together and leave to one side.
5. Using the back of a spoon, squeeze any excess moisture out of the spinach. Tip into a serving bowl and add the yogurt, then squeeze in the juice from the lemon and season with salt and pepper. Mix well, top with the pine nuts, then cover.
6. Cut the tomatoes for the salad in half and squeeze out the seeds, then finely chop the flesh and put it into the bowl with the onions. Finely chop the herbs and add them to the bowl. Pour over the oil and add a pinch of pepper. Mix well.
7. Pop the flatbreads into the oven for 2 minutes to warm through. When the beef is cooked, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a carving board. Slice the beef and serve it with the warm flatbreads, spinach raita and salad. Oh, and a glass or two of red.
‘Spice master’ John Gregory-Smith shows how exciting food – inspired by street stalls all over the world – can be prepared with lightning speed. With inspiration from Asia, South America, North Africa and the Middle East, John has done the thinking for you and created recipes that are full of brilliant time-saving techniques and shortcuts.
Mighty Spice Express by John Gregory-Smith
224 pages • Illustrated • £20.00
AUS $32.99 NZ $42.00