Mediterranean Platter with Cooling Yogurt Dip

mediterranean platterI

n my second post ever (where my loyal sister commented twice, bless her heart), I talked about how there's nothing like after-church hunger.  It's still true.  Occasionally, I sit through church passively, but normally, I work up an appetite.  Today, I led prayers, cried through the sermon, kept track of the kids during lunchtime, and chatted wholeheartedly.  By the time we got in the car, Loretta was a wreck (wailing "I'm tiode!" the whole way home--why don't kids just close their eyes and get it over with already?), and I hadn't eaten enough. Watch out for She Who Has not Eaten Enough.

Bethany UCC

Many Sunday mornings, Yancey and I are tempted to skip church, take advantage of our day together by lounging around with pancakes or taking the kids to the beach. I see why so many people choose that--church is a giant time commitment.  I was reading here recently on this topic--"I hear complaints about fluffy songs, outdated hymns, exclusive language, narrow theology, judgmental messages, too much fashion consciousness, sheer boredom or simply being indoors on a free morning." In the Pacific Northwest, less than 2% of us are churchgoers.  We're out in the real church of the mountains, woods, coffee shops, or brunching with friends...right?

I have ZERO need to convince anyone to go to church, and I understand all the above sentiments.  Here's why I go, though:

  1. Sabbath.  Taking a few hours (or a whole day!) off from being productive is good for my relationships, mental and emotional health, and general outlook on life.
  2. Challenge.  It helps if you go to a church that doesn't let you get away with ambivalence about issues of justice and peace.  A morning at Bethany UCC is likely to kick your ass where these things are concerned, and I need that at least weekly.
  3. Accountability.  Especially where downward mobility is concerned.  It's too easy, living in the world, to forget what really matters if you're not around people trying to live out their values in similar ways.  And by "values," I don't mean the term "family values" that's been co-opted by the Religious Right.  I mean values about living simply, giving generously, understanding privilege, being welcoming to all regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, class, race, nationality, ability--all that stuff.
  4. Community. Friendships, of course, but more than that.  Going to an intergenerational, multicultural church forces me to be in community with people that I might not choose otherwise.  There are lots of folks I don't "click" with, but we are together.  In a world where affinity seems to be what matters most ("What does the other person have in common with me?") I want the discipline of difference.  And I want that for my children.
  5. Hospitality.  As I've mentioned before, we eat lunch together every week.  Sometimes the table is bending under the weight of baked-from-scratch cakes and fresh salads, other times it's Costco pizza.  But we eat on porcelain dishes, compost the leftovers for the worms, and talk about all sorts of important things while we're doing dishes together. Today, the kids hosted the adults. They harvested veggies from the P-Patch that our church helps operate, and our family contributed a platter of quesadillas.

[Sarah--step down from the pulpit!]  Okay.  Here's how we satisfied our after-church hunger.  And I can't help it--I'm a preacher's daughter.

I just did some major-gargantuan-fill-the-larder grocery shopping yesterday.  Four stops, big list, took me most the day to unpack, clean out the fridge, trim veggies.  I feel much better now.  And had many, many options where lunch was concerned. So this wasn't really a Leftoverist lunch, but some of these things will appear again--don't worry.

After-Church Mediterranean Platter with Cooling Yogurt Dip
Serves 2.  (Wyatt and Loretta had already filled up on plum cake and blueberries at church).  There are so many other things you could use--olives, pepperoncini, grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, any kind of fresh veggie, hummus, cured meats.  We have been eating like this a lot lately, so I'm sure more versions will appear before the summer is over.  I had some cold poached chicken breasts in the fridge (for a chicken salad recipe later) so threw that in my grill pan.  That's above and beyond.  Just veggies here would be more than enough.

For dip: Mix 1 c. plain yogurt with 1 small clove minced garlic, juice and zest of one small lemon, salt and pepper, and pinch of aleppo pepper or red chile flakes.  Stir, add more of anything to taste.  A little bit of tahini would also be delicious in this.

For platter: Slice a tomato or two.  Peel and seed a large cucumber and cut it into sticks (like carrot sticks).  Cube some feta cheese. Griddle a couple rounds of pita bread (or warm them in the oven) and cut them into wedges.  Arrange on a platter. For grilled zucchini, heat a grill pan or grill to medium high.  Cut a medium zucchini in half horizontally.  Slice each half vertically into four 1/2" slices.  Brush with olive oil and salt.  Put on grill, turning after 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and slice into sticks.  Put on platter. Drizzle your best olive oil over the whole thing, and sprinkle with kosher salt and zaatar (or lemon zest or fresh herbs or toasted sesame seeds or so many other things!).  Serve with dip.