This weekend, treat friends to a feast that offers a deliciously modern take on traditional dishes. Our menu features recipes from author Rebecca Seal’s new cookbook, Istanbul, inspired by her travels to the diverse city. Set a table with colorful dinnerware and embroidered linens, and pull off a bold, unforgettable dinner party.
Then, sit down to a meze-style table of small dishes meant for sharing. This cucumber and walnut salad is crunchy and refreshing; it’s a nice contrast to a leafier spinach and pomegranate salad, topped with golden brown pine nuts. A bowl of smoky red peppers marinated in garlic makes a striking and delicious accompaniment.
A selection of heartier dishes rounds out the meal, but the small portions mean you can taste a little bit of everything. Our chicken kabobs are seasoned with an aromatic Turkish spice blend, so they’re rich with flavors of chili, cumin and herbs. Eggplants stuffed with ground lamb and a pot of beef braised with Turkish peppers offer a range of flavors, textures, and new ingredients.
Finally, for dessert, serve this dense semolina cake, which soaks up a sweet syrup to stay moist. Top with berries and honey for a gorgeous presentation.
- 1 day ahead: Bake the semolina cake. Make the eggplant and yogurt dips, cover and refrigerate. Braise the beef, cover and refrigerate overnight; reheat before serving. Make the lamb filling for the eggplants.
- Day of: Make the flatbread. (You can reheat in a warm oven, if needed, before serving.) Make the smoky red peppers.
- Just before serving: Finish the stuffed eggplants. Make the salads and chicken kabobs.
Pour a bold, full-bodied red wine that will complement the meal’s hearty textures and aromatic spices. Our Carol Shelton Rocky Reserve Zinfandel, from the Williams-Sonoma Wine Shop, is our pick — it’s ripe with the flavors of dark berries and shows just a hint of sweet caramel.
Eye-catching dinnerware and linens help make this meal a memorable one. Our Iznik collection is inspired by the classic Ottoman pottery that enjoyed a golden age throughout the 16th century. Artistic patterns on bowls, plates, serving pieces and more showcase a colorful fusion of stylized geometric and botanical motifs that will enliven a dining table. Pair with washed linen napkins in complementary hues.
A meze meal is all about sharing, and that means a casual, family-style atmosphere is encouraged. Choose cookware that’s beautiful enough to bring straight to the table, like a Le Creuset Dutch oven in our new shade, Lapis. Tear flatbread instead of slicing it for a rustic presentation, and serve the wine in stemless glasses. If you like, arrange the silverware in glasses or jars so everyone can help themselves.
On a similar note, skip elaborate floral arrangements in favor of bowls of bright, seasonal fruits, such as pomegranates, persimmons and lemons. You’ll add pops of color and interest without overwhelming the table.