2 Easy Mediterranean Recipes That Will Make You Feel Fancy
A classy cocktail and a twist on toast!
*A special thanks to Sassool for the wonderful ingredients to make these tasty recipes!
Hi there folks, and Happy Holidays! Today I'm sharing 2 super easy (and delicious!) Mediterranean recipes that will make you feel fancy. Weather you're a regular fanatic of Mediterranean cuisine like me, or haven't really had it before, you'll still love these recipes. These two are a great duo together or individually. I've got a five-ingredient main meal for lunch or dinner and a cocktail recipe that were both inspired by Mediterranean ingredients and my trip to Sassool cafe and grocery in Cary, NC.
When I was visiting Sassool to get the ingredients I had a chance to get a little history about their cafe & grocery. When the founder's family moved to the Triangle, NC area from Lebanon in the late 70's, they couldn't find freshly baked pita bread so his brothers and he opened up a bakery selling fresh pita and baguettes. The bakery became so popular that they expanded into a full Mediterranean restaurant which was collectively run by the brothers for over thirty years. Eventually until the youngest brother decided to break out on his own and open Sassool, which is named after their mother's nickname, Cecilia Saleh.
They truly have amazing authentic Mediterranean ingredients and ready-made cuisines for you to enjoy in the cafe. I was so impressed by the wide variety of quality ingredients including their tahini, chickpeas, cheeses, and so much more! I was also delighted to find rosewater syrup, which I've been dying to find for a cocktail recipe. I thought it would be difficult to source such a unique ingredient but there it was, right on the shelf!
A word on sweet potato toast
I'm so excited to finally have a crowd-pleasing sweet potato toast recipe in my collection. I first heard about this idea of sweet potato “toast” this past summer on my Western NC Farm Tour while talking to the lovely food blogger babes of Charlotte, NC. They were telling me about recipes where you can simply replace bread with thin slices of sweet potato that's been through a couple of toast cycles in the toaster. "No Way!" I said aloud and in my head. I thought it sounded way too easy, and good, to be true. I've been using sweet potatoes for years now and they're one of my all-time favorite ingredients, like in this recipe. Sweet potato preparation in my cooking history took extended time in the oven or crock pot to become tender. I was so excited to finally put this theory to the test and... it WORKED! Quite beautifully. I would advise putting the toaster (if you can change the temperature) to 400 ℉ and running the slices of sweet potato through 2-4 times on your "medium" toast setting, depending on how thick the slices and how crispy you like them.
Onto the good stuff: The Recipes
And finally… the recipes! Let’s start off with a cocktail, shall we?
The Turkish Delight Cocktail
I have to admit, I hadn’t actually tried traditional Turkish delight candy until a few weeks ago. I had an authentic rosewater flavor and I really enjoyed the unique, floral taste. It was very sweet and fragrant from the rosewater. I probably couldn’t have more than two at a time but it was so yummy and different than anything I’d ever had before. I’ve been wanting to create a very feminine, floral cocktail with rosewater for quite a while so once I tried this flavor of Turkish delight I knew I wanted to pair this flavor with gin. I chose gin because to me it has such a classy, timeless taste with a certain type of *spruceness* (as I like to say) that binds well with other strong flavors. This recipe started with three ingredients, but needed a little acidity with bitter balance and extra sweetness so it ended up being 5 ingredients total.
I love this cocktail because it makes you feel so fancy drinking it but it’s actually SO simple to make. You’ll feel good about serving this cocktail at a party or ladies night with the beautiful aroma and pretty color pop!
In a shaker, measure 2 oz. of gin, 1 oz. of lemon juice, ¼ tsp. Rosewater, a dash of cherry bitters (my favorite local brand is Crude Bitters!), and ½ oz. of honey (heated with a few drops of water in the microwave for about 10 seconds). Stir all ingredients together, add a handful of ice cubes and shake with the shaker lid on top. Strain into a pretty little coupe glass and (optional) for dramatic color effect, slowly pour in about a tablespoon of pure cranberry juice so that it sinks to the bottom of the glass.
Mediterranean Sweet Potato Toast
This is seriously my new favorite recipe to make that everyone loves AND it makes a great party trick to show and tell that you can actually cook sweet potatoes in the toaster! My homemade Mediterranean seasoning is optional - though I’d highly recommend trying it out if you like extra flavor. It makes just enough to coat the chickpeas for roasting, but you could double or even triple the recipe to keep on-hand for other veggies for roasting another time.
Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ for the chickpeas.
Wash & dry 1 large sweet potato and a can of chickpeas. Try to make sure the chickpeas are as dry as possible so the seasoning (or olive oil & salt) sticks and they roast up nice and crispy.
Toss the chickpeas in a large bowl and mix with about a tablespoon (or a little more) of olive oil. If using Mediterranean seasoning*(recipe below), go ahead and add after the and thoroughly toss to coat. Place on a large baking sheet and spread them out then bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack.
In the meantime, slice the sweet potato into ¼ inch slices. Place on the toaster rack and start toasting them 2 or 3 times through.
While the potatoes are toasting, measure the tahini, honey, and lemon juice. Whisk together and add salt & pepper to taste. The mixture will become very thick so use about ½ cup of hot water to thin the tahini to your preferred thickness level so that it can be spread and drizzled onto sweet potatoes.
Once the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked through, take out of the toaster and spread a thin layer of tahini sauce. Add the crispy roasted chickpeas on top and drizzle with a little more tahini.
*Optional - I like to garnish with some freshly chopped parsley for a pop of color and freshness. It also makes the dish taste even more Mediterranean!
Mediterranean seasoning (5-ingredients):
1 tsp. Rosemary
½ tsp. Cumin
½ tsp. Ground coriander
¼ tsp. Oregano
½ tsp. Cinnamon
(Pinch of salt)
-Mix all together and use immediately or store in airtight container.
Printable Recipes | Quick Reference
- 2 oz. gin
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. honey
- dash cherry bitters
- 1/4 tsp. rosewater
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 cup tahini
- 1 lemon lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup hot water
- to taste salt & pepper
I hope you love both of these recipes as much as I do! If you make a recipe, post a pic to social media and tag @cheersyears. I love seeing recreations and adaptations!
It’s easy recipes like these that are helping me get through these busy holiday times while gift shopping, wrapping, preparing for family, road trips, and work in the middle of all that!
Let me know what you think of these recipes and what easy recipes you’re making leading up to Christmas! Here’s to easy recipes, great Mediterranean ingredients, and holiday times… Cheers!