Wild Mezze Platter


Dave Hamilton. Copyright JP Hedge PhotographyI love Middle Eastern food in all shapes and forms. Nothing satisfies me more than tucking into a nice mezze platter. However as all the exotic ingredients have to be flown from half way across the world it is hardly a sustainable way to eat! With that in mind I decided to challenge myself to make a wild mezze platter with UK versions of all the middle eastern favourites. This would include a wild humus, wild falafals and wild vine lives.

So lets begin with the substitutions before I go into the recipes.

  • Chickpeas – boiled chestnuts
  • Seasame seeds (tahini) – hazelnuts
  • Vine leaves – Dock leaves (boiled twice and drained), charlock, Hedge garlic, lime leaves etc, etc
  • Olives – unripe sloes
  • Tomatoes for salsa – haw berries.
  • Lemon juice – Sumac berries


  1. Peel two handfuls chestnuts, and then crack about a palm full of hazelnuts.
  2. Boil them together until both are soft in just enough water to cover them
  3. Drain reserving the water
  4. Blend the two together, using a hand-held blender, slowly adding the water as you do so.
  5. Add a little oil and some spices if you feel it needs it, you can use sumac, toasted hogweed seeds and beech oil.

Dock Dolmades or Dolma

  1. Boil the dock in two changes of water, discarding the water each time.
  2. Fill each leaf with a teaspoon of cooked barley flavoured with mint, dried sumac and thyme.

Haw Salsa

  1. Boil two handfuls of haw-berries in just enough red wine vinegar to cover them (could use cider vinegar) along with some spices of your choice (chilli, crushed coriander seed etc)
  2. Strain through a sieve and serve


  1. Boil up some peeled chestnuts
  2. Strain and pat dry (the water can be used to make a nut stock or gravy)
  3. Use a blender or potato masher to crush them to a pulp.
  4. Work into falafel shapes with your hands and fry until browned on the outside


  1. Take a number of unripe sloes and leave in brine solution for one to two weeks depending on when you remember they’re there
  2. Place in a sterilized jar, cover with vinegar, seal and leave
  3. That’s it

Serve it all with pita bread and seasonal leaves (i.e. chickweed, wintercress, sorrel in the autumn/winter)

Article written by Dave Hamilton. Dave has now left Selfsufficientish but you can catch up with him on davehamilton.me.uk or on twitter @davewildish

7 Comments on Wild Mezze Platter

  1. What an interesting idea – how did the sloes turn out?

    I recently had a sloe/olive moment. I had picked some sloes to experiment with the Ray Mears idea that bruising them and leaving them for a few days makes them edible (it didn’t I don’t know what I did wrong). Anyway, I also received an olive tree as a gift and it came complete with olives. Ones of these had fallen off an I mistook it for a stray sloe – yuk!

    Why do the sloes need to be unripe? Could I pick some now and stick them in vinegar I wonder? I also wonder if treating like olives i.e. soaking them in salt water for a couple of weeks would aid the process.

    Hmm – if I get round to doing that I’ll report back…

    • My assumption is the sloes need to be unripe to give the texture of olives and so they won’t disintegrate. Once ripe sloes are quite mushy and soft, putting them in salt water then vinegar might just result in a sloe mush. Having said that, I’ve never done it and it so this is pure conjecture – try it, all it will cost is some sloes, a little salt and vinegar and about 20 minutes so it is well worth experimenting. I think I will edit the sloe olive recipe to include putting them in brine – thanks for the tip.
      Try putting your sloes in the freezer, then putting them through a sieve, this might help. They make an acceptable chutney but it is on the tart side and it requires a lot of sugar.

    • I’d never heard you could use them as capers. I always thought the buds would be high in cyanide. I guess if you use them in moderation the small amount they contain won’t do you much damage. Thanks for the tip Rosie.

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