Saturday, June 25, 2011


I've been sick the last few days and haven't had the energy for anything but leftovers.  I was in desperate need of comfort food today!  And I'm always looking for new, creative ways to eat Mediterranean food at home - we just love it!!!  Tonight I made Chicken "Gyro" Pitas (my own recipe) with a Greek Orzo salad (a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I crave).  Soooo good!  If you like gyros, then you'll love this low-fat alternative that's still high in flavor.  And the orzo salad is a MUST TRY!  Use it as a side dish for dinner or your next picnic, or make it as the recipe originally intended with roasted shrimp.  Either way, it won't disappoint.  Opa!

Chicken "Gyro" Pitas
For the "Gyro" meat:
 1 lb ground chicken breast
1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Montreal grill seasoning (or you can substitute 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper)

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Combine ingredients in a bowl and form into 4 patties,  about 1/4 inch thick (mixture will be very wet, but you need this to maintain moisture in the cooking process.  I basically scooped the meat mixture out with a spoon, plopped it onto the wax paper, and spread it out.  If you're able to form the patties yourself, then just use your hands).  Place patties onto cookie sheet, cover with another sheet of wax paper, and place in the freezer for 15 min to allow the gyro patties to set up.  Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.  Pan-fry gyro patties in 1-2 T of olive oil, cooking 3-5 minutes on each side. 

To build "gyro" pita:
romaine or leaf lettuce leaves
sliced roma or plum tomato
thin slices of feta cheese
tzatziki sauce (I recommend Cedar's brand, but you can easily make it at home with 1c Greek yogurt, 1/3 c shredded cucumber, 1/4 c fresh dill chopped, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste)
whole wheat pita bread
"Gyro" meat

Either cute the pita bread in half to make two pockets, eat it as an open face sandwich, or use two pitas and eat it as a sandwich.  Which ever you prefer, just layer the lettuce, tomato, cheese and meat then top it generously with tzatziki. 

Greek Orzo Salad
The link to the original recipe is below, but I listed my version of the side dish for you.  I have made the original recipe Roasted Shrimp and Orzo for lunch on the weekends and we love it!
3/4 pound orzo pasta
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons if using fresh juice)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups cucumbers peeled, seeded, and small diced (I used the baby cucumbers because I like them better, but the original recipe calls for one hothouse cucumber)
3/4 pound good feta cheese, medium diced

In a large bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add a splash of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt to the cooking water before adding the orzo.  Cook according the the package directions, about 9 min or until al dente.  Drain and place the hot pasta into the bowl with the dressing mixture.  Stir to combine and let it sit for about 15 min. (It must come to room temperature before adding the other ingredients - you can speed up this process by throwing the bowl into the freezer).

Once the pasta has cooled (and absorbed most of the dressing), add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

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