I am a huge fan of Greek food, Eric doesn’t hate it but usually doesn’t prefer it, so we don’t have it very often. The one exception, as you can see in the above photo, is that he loves Gyros. Okay first of all, there is lots of confusion over the correct way to pronounce this Greek version of a sandwich. I have eaten at a lot of Greek restaurants and all the owners who were actually Greek (sometimes they’re Lebanese or another ethnicity with similar food) pronounce it as a cross between Year-oh and Euro. So that’s how I say it, if anyone out there is actually Greek feel free to correct me, I appreciate learning!
Now back to barbecuing: We decided it was time for our first BBQ of the year, and I gave Eric a few choices and was quite surprised (and pleased) when he picked Gyros. Now some of you may be thinking, “I live in a tiny apartment, I don’t have a lanai (that’s a balcony in Hawaii), or deck, or yard to have a BBQ on.” Don’t despair! We’re in the same boat, it just takes some creativity. Do you have a walkway, maybe a parking space no one uses, a front step? You only need a small spot to be able to fit a little hibachi. We live in a two story building and so set up on the sidewalk underneath the stairs, that way we’re not in people’s way. We use a couple camping chairs for sitting (but a blanket would work too) and an overturned box for our table.
One of the many nice things about grilling is that it’s a team effort. Eric takes care of the grill; gets it started, watches it, handles grilling the food. He always does a really good job. I take care of the prep and putting the food together. It’s always fun to grill out there because our neighbors are always amazed, I guess we’re the cool neighbors now, or the crazy ones! We end up getting to talk to our neighbors more than usual and we get to enjoy the weather and sunshine.
We still use all our regular dishes and things (Save the environment!) and I try to keep the serving dishes fun even though our table and chairs are ghetto. Using real dishes for BBQs or picnics is a great way to save money. As far as affordability goes, using chicken makes this recipe a little more pricey, but I cut chicken breasts into strips rather than using tenderloins so that saves some money. You can also save money in this by leaving out the chicken, or making homemade pitas. The total cost of the recipe is around $10 but that makes 6-8 gyros and you’ll have plenty of leftover hummus and tzatziki to dip chips or vegetables in. If you want to make this vegetarian, make the salad and toast your pitas then tear them into large chunks and mix in your salad, drizzle with sauces.
There were a few parts to our Greek meal. Although a typical Gyros has tzatziki, we also like hummus with ours. So the meal consisted of making two sauces, a salad mix, and grilling chicken. It was more prep time than grilling time but still only took about 20 minutes. I haven’t found tahini in any grocery store I’ve been to, I know I can get it up in Seattle but I can’t justify the gas to get it. So I just toast some sesame seeds and then pound them with my morter and pestal. It works great and since I buy my sesame seeds in bulk I’m probably saving money.
I make both sauces in the blender. The tzatziki first because it’s easier to rinse out, then the hummus. Most people prefer to make tzatziki with English cucumbers, but I used the regular one I had in the fridge and it worked great. I didn’t strain the cucumbers because of time so our tzatziki was a little soupy, if you want it thicker just blend your cucumbers and then press the liquid out through a cheesecloth and use the remaining cucumber pulp in your sauce.
1/2 of a cucumber
6 oz Greek yogurt
tiny pinch of kosher salt
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 TBS dried mint
Chop the cucumber and then whirl in a blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
2 TBS sesame seeds
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas
1 clove of garlic minced
pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lemon juice
Toast the sesame seeds in a small pan, shaking the pan often so they toast evenly. Pound into a paste (or you can use a small food processor). Open the chickpea can and drain it but save the liquid.
Dump the chickpeas in the blender and blend for a minute. Add sesame seeds, garlic, salt, ONE tsp of paprika, cumin, ONE TBS olive oil, and lemon juice. Blend for another minute while adding the liquid from the chickpeas until it’s the consistancy you want (if your blender lid doesn’t have a pour hole than just stop blending to add a little at a time, I use almost all of it). Put into a bowl and drizzle with remaining TBS olive oil and sprinkle with remaining tsp of paprika.
Chicken Gyros serves 6-8
3 chicken breasts 6-8 pita breads 2 TBS lemon juice 1/2 cup Olive Oil 3 TBS Red Wine Vinegar 1 TBS dried oregano 2 cloves of garlic minced 1 large head of Romaine lettuce rough chopped 2 roma tomatoes chopped 1/2 cucumber 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or one TBS dried) 1/4 cup chopped red onion 10 or more pitted kalamata olives (optional)
Slice the raw chicken breasts lengthwise into 4 thin strips each. Place in dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, oregano and garlic. Pour half the dressing over the chicken and turn it to coat well. Grill the chicken about 4 minutes on each side.
Combine the vegetables, parsley and cheese in a large bowl. Mix with remaining dressing.
Grill the pita bread until golden brown and crispy. Place 1-2 strips of chicken in a pita, top with salad mixture, drizzle with tzatziki and hummus and fold in half.
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