It isn’t quite spring around here but the tease of warmer weather and definitely longer days has me thinking about ways to lighten up my menus. On sunnier days stick to your ribs stews are loosing their appeal and have me seeking out lighter fare. But lighter doesn’t have to mean less flavorful as this quick dish from the Noble Pig attests to.
The rich and tangy flavors of cilantro, cumin and ginger add spice to ground chicken (you can substitute turkey if you prefer) while the peas and fresh cilantro add brightness and the necessary vegetables that make this a complete dinner option. Its fast, delicious and sure to please.
1 large red onion; 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt plus more for garnish
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
4 pitas, for serving
- Combine the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of water in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until a thin paste forms.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until golden, 4 minutes.
- Add the ginger paste and cook, stirring, until most of the water is cooked out, about 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken and cook until opaque, breaking up the meat.
- In a small bowl mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup water, add to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through, 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the peas and the cilantro and season to taste with additional salt if desired.
- Meanwhile, heat another skillet over high heat. Brush the pitas with oil, season with a tiny amount of salt and toast in the skillet, about 1 minute per side.
- Divide the chicken mixture among the pitas.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek food. Regardless of the season the tangy Greek flavors of feta cheese, oregano and fresh dill inspire images of sun drenched Greek beaches. And this time of year, when the weather is especially gray and dreary, I find myself longing for a Greek Island getaway. When that isn’t possible, I head to the kitchen and cook up my own Greek feast.
These gyros, adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers, comes pretty close to channeling the Greek Island experience. Here beef is substituted for the traditional lamb (which is also delicious but sometimes difficult to find). The meat is marinated in a lemon-oregano mixture which ensures that every bite is juicy and flavorful. As a finishing touch the entire gyro is topped with Tzatziki Sauce- the yogurt, dill and cucumber sauce that Greece is famous for.
So here’s to getting your own dose of the Greek Islands. Enjoy!
For the Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup cucumber, diced small
3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 dash salt
1 dash pepper
For the gyros:
1 pound beef steak tips, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups salad greens
2 tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
4 pita breads
- To make the tzatziki sauce, place the cucumber and half of the yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Add mixture to a medium sized bowl and stir in remaining yogurt, the dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Add additional salt, if needed and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To prepare the gyros, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Add the meat to a zip top bag or bowl, and pour marinade over the beef. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 4 hours.
- When you are ready to cook, set grill to medium low heat
- Place the meat on the grill, (you can place meat on skewers if you prefer) and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are done to your preference.
- Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
- Evenly divide the meat on a pita shell, top with the salad greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and the Tzatziki Sauce.