Having friends over for dinner doesn't have to mean slaving away in the kitchen for hours to produce a three-course meal.

A much more fun and relaxed approach to eating and entertaining is to shop smart at the local deli counter.

Take inspiration from the mezze dishes of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and serve up a selection of little dishes to share. The secret is that no great skill in the kitchen is required - just some simple cooking using the freshest ingredients and an artistic flair when it comes to plating the food.

It's the perfect way to get people together so that everyone can enjoy sitting around chatting, drinking and nibbling.

'Meze' is traditionally served up in Lebanon and Syria. Exotic fragrant spices, fresh green herbs and citrus are the key flavours and will make your house smell like heaven.

It's the ultimate finger food so you'll need plenty of flatbread. If you can, try to buy some dukkah. This is a delicious blend of spices, nuts and seeds that's enjoyed by dipping fresh bread first into olive oil and then into the mixture.

Mix up a simple salad of fresh orange slices, black olives and thinly sliced red onion too.

To get you in the summer party mood, we've selected two easy recipes to try at home.


3 boneless and skinless chicken thighs.

1tbsp harissa paste (fiery-hot chilli paste).

1tsp cumin seeds.

1tbsp finely grated fresh ginger.

1tbsp runny honey.

4tbsp olive oil.

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve:

Labneh (a Lebanese soft cheese made from yoghurt cheese) drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh parsley, Lemon wedges, to squeeze, Romaine lettuce leaves, Flatbread, 25 metal skewers or wooden skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix all the other ingredients together in a medium bowl and add the chicken. Toss until the chicken pieces are coated. Season well with salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for at least one hour.

When ready to cook, thread the chicken on to the skewers, adding about three pieces to each. Heat a stove-top grill pan or barbecue. Grill the chicken for two-three minutes on each side until browned. Serve with natural yoghurt and chopped red onion.


300g feta cheese, crumbled.

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon.

5tbsp extra-virgin olive oil.

A pinch of red chilli flakes, crushed.

1 small red onion, finely diced.

1tbsp each finely chopped parsley, dill and mint.

2tbsp pomegranate molasses.

4tbsp pomegranate seeds.

Arrange the crumbled cheese in a serving bowl. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over it. Sprinkle the chilli flakes, onion and herbs on top.

Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with the seeds to finish. Serve with plenty of flatbread for dipping.