Mezze platters are about sharing

Australian cook Kon Karapanagiotidis. Photo: Sarah Pannell
Australian cook Kon Karapanagiotidis. Photo: Sarah Pannell
Great food comes not from a recipe or how well you follow it but from your heart, your curiosity, your creativity and your desire to connect and experience intimacy and belonging with others, Australian cook Kon Karapanagiotidis says.

He and his mother Sia have created A Seat at My Table: Philoxenia to celebrate growing and making your own food, of living sustainably and of eating food that nurtures your body.

"This cookbook is the celebration of filotimo, the foundation of Greek culture. It means being ‘a friend of honour’, it is about the power and importance of love, kindness and generosity, and how we can experience and share this through food and enjoying a meal together.

"It’s like breathing to us Greeks."

Alongside this is philoxenia — being a friend to a stranger, extending kindness and generosity to a stranger in need of help and a place to rest.

"I truly believe food humanises us, tearing down the walls of prejudice and fear and creating a social scaffolding that allows us to embrace each other."

So he has donated 100% of the proceeds from this book to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

"When you invite people around your table to share a meal from this book, you are also creating a seat at the table for people seeking assylum."

He says his parents taught him filotimo and philoxenia through food as a way to open the door to his family’s stories and culture.

How to make your own mezedakia (mezze) platter

Greeks love to eat mezze, sampling and sharing a little bit of everything. It is something fun and simple you can do. There are literally dozens of different things you can add to your platter. No need to spend a fortune at a deli, you can make a beautiful mezze platter for yourself, your family and friends or a party of guests with these simple steps.

Make it colourful

Make your platter look beautiful by using lots of different-coloured vegetables, fruits and nuts to contrast. Choose a neutral platter, be it white or a wooden serving board.

It really is a mix and match experience that you can curate to your tastes, dietary needs and budget. Pick from any of the following iterations and the ones you and your friends and family enjoy.

Choose your vegetarian or vegan cheese

Thinly slice kasseri, kefalograviera, graviera, kefalotiri, manouri cheese, mizithra or cube some Greek feta, grill some halloumi, or make some saganaki bites using the kefalograviera or graviera.

Add some grilled or roasted vegetables

Sliced zucchini (courgette), pumpkin (winter squash), eggplant (aubergine), grilled or roasted capsicum (bell pepper), whole garlic cloves or artichokes dressed with a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, chopped parsley, white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

Add some raw and pickled vegetables

Sliced celery and carrot sticks, strips of bell peppers, fennel and radishes or toursi, cucumbers and lemon wedges

Add some nuts

Walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and pine nuts

Add some small dip bowls

Tzatziki, melitzanosalata, tirokafteri, hummus, beetroot (beet) dip, spicy Greek feta dip, fava dip, skordalia, whipped Greek feta, labneh, butter bean dip, olive paste, garlic sauce and honey

Add some dairy if you like

Boiled eggs, Greek-style yoghurt, marinated Greek feta

Add fruits

Sliced melon, apricots, nectarines, cherries, watermelon, lemons, apples, peaches, grapes, mandarins, cherry tomatoes, rockmelon, persimmon, fresh figs, dates, prunes and dried figs

Add something a little more substantial

Fritters (dill, chickpea, onion, pumpkin/ winter squash, zucchini/courgette, tomato, split pea, fennel), dolmades, pita bread, horta, eggplant (aubergine) and zucchini rolls with ricotta or feta, zucchini flowers, mini Greek pizzas, Greek tomato feta bites, Greek chips, lahanodolmades, halloumi chips, soutzoukakia, Greek feta balls, mini Greek omelette tarts, mini feta and zucchini quiches, spinach and feta puff pastry triangles, feta baked in phyllo and honey, pita chips

Add mini pastries

Halloumi/ricotta pastry cigars, halloumi skewers, tiropitakia, mini spanakopita triangles

Add fresh herbs and oils for colour and taste

Mint, basil, dill, Greek oregano, parsley, Greek extra-virgin olive oil

The Book

A Seat at My Table: Philoxenia

Vegetarian and Vegan Greek Kitchen Recipes

Kon Karapanagiotidis

Hardie Grant Books, RRP: $45

Marinated grilled vegetable platter

You do not need to spend a small fortune at your local deli to enjoy delicious grilled vegetables such as eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette), mushrooms, capsicums (bell peppers), cherry tomatoes and asparagus.

Serves 8


2 eggplants (aubergines), thinly sliced

2 zucchinis (courgettes), thinly sliced

2 red capsicums (bell peppers), thickly sliced

400g asparagus (about 2 bunches)

250g mushrooms

250g cherry tomatoes

freshly chopped parsley, to serve


375ml (1½ cups) extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp dill seeds

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

2 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp Greek oregano

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked

1 sprig fresh lemon thyme, leaves picked

salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 180°C or preheat the barbecue grill to high.

To make the marinade, combine olive oil, garlic, dill seeds, sherry vinegar, white vinegar, Greek oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme and salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Add vegetables and toss to combine.

Leave the vegetables to marinate for an hour in the fridge before roasting.

If you are using an oven, place eggplant, zucchini and capsicum in a roasting tin with the leftover marinade juices and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are golden brown.

If you are using a barbecue, grill the vegetables. These vegetables take different times to grill so add them at different times.

The capsicum will take about 15 minutes, the eggplant and zucchini 8-10 minutes, the asparagus, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms about 5 minutes (ensure you turn them halfway through cooking so they cook evenly).

Top with freshly chopped parsley.


It already is!


It already is!


They make a terrific pizza topping or as part of a moussaka.

Silver beet and feta patties

Silverbeet (Swiss chard) is the Greek green goddess of the garden, growing all year round, and so cheap and easy to grow. In winter, spring and summer, I’ve gone to my garden each day to cut these leafy temples of goodness, filled with vitamin A and K, folate and potassium, to make all my favourite dishes. From spanakorizo, spanakopita and black-eyed pea stews to dolmades and these fantastic fritters with feta, all love silverbeet.

Serves 4


600g silverbeet (Swiss chard), chopped

1 egg, beaten

200g Greek feta

½ tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp Greek oregano

2 Tbsp plain (all purpose) flour

3 Tbsp breadcrumbs

30g (½ cup) dill, chopped

10g (½ cup) mint, chopped

15g (½ cup) flat-leaf

(Italian) parsley, chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 spring onions (scallions), diced

salt and pepper, to taste

250ml (1 cup) canola oil

extra 150g (1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour


Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook silverbeet for 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Combine egg, feta, paprika, Greek oregano, flour, breadcrumbs, herbs, olive oil, onion and spring onion in a large bowl. Add silverbeet and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour to allow the mixture to firm.

You have two options: to dip patties in flour before cooking or opt to cook without flour. Fry without dipping into flour and you will get patties that best showcase the colours of the feta and silverbeet. If you use flour, you will get more of a golden colour.

Heat a few tablespoons of the canola oil in a large frying pan until hot. Add patties and fry, in batches, and adding more oil as absorbed, for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden.


By using vegan feta and vegan egg mix instead of eggs.


By using gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.


The leftover patties go great in a veggie burger or as filling for your next spanakopita (just freeze till then).

Halloumi chips/Mezze dish

I do not have the space in this cookbook to share all my halloumi recipes but here are some tips to get the imagination going. Try filling little puff pastry cigars with halloumi and deep frying them. Or simply try frying large, thick slices of halloumi and finish with lemon, olive oil, mint and pomegranate seeds. Grated halloumi goes wonderfully on top of Greek fries. And finally, grilled halloumi goes beautifully in a roasted vegetable salad or even a fresh tomato, lettuce and onion salad.


500g halloumi

2 eggs, beaten

150g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour

100g (1 cup) breadcrumbs

250ml (1 cup) canola oil

90g cherry tomatoes, halved

4 Tbsp Greek-style yoghurt

1 tsp za’atar or sumac

2 Tbsp tahini

1 Tbsp roughly chopped mint

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 lemon, quartered

4 Tbsp crushed pistachios

finely chopped mint, to serve

Wrap your slab of halloumi in a tea towel or paper towel and set aside for 10 minutes (this will dry the halloumi so it cooks better). Slice it into whatever size you’d like your chips to be.

Place egg in one bowl, flour in a separate bowl and breadcrumbs in a third bowl.

Dip each halloumi chip first in the egg, then the flour, then the breadcrumbs and transfer to a plate.

Fill a small-medium frying pan with enough canola oil to come 3 cm up the side of the pan.

Add halloumi chips, in batches, and topping up the canola oil as the chips absorb the oil, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden.

Take care not to overcrowd the pan otherwise the chips won’t cook properly, and fry on each side until golden.

Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Transfer to a serving plate and arrange alongside cherry tomatoes.

Combine yoghurt, sumac or za’atar and tahini in a small bowl.

Serve halloumi chips with tahini dip, pomegranate molasses for drizzling and lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Sprinkle with pistachios and mint.


By using a vegan halloumi and by using a Greek-style soy yoghurt, plant-based Greek-style yoghurt or coconut yoghurt and a vegan egg mix.


Use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free flour.


The words ‘halloumi’ and ‘leftovers’ — never the twain shall meet.