Chicken Gyros & Tzatziki - It's all Greek to me.

24 September 2009

My Meme is a great cook.  I mean, she is great cook and can cook for 25 people without breaking a sweat.  She has six children all with spouses or significant others, three grandchildren with spouses, three tween grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and one on the way!  We're a screwball loud-mouth lively bunch too.   In my family, the first dinner you attend as an outsider (boyfriend, girlfriend, plain ole friend) is crucial to your future success with the family.  If you don't just jump in feet first, you may not make it.  We STILL make fun of my step-dad for showing up in a sport coat and writing a thank you note to my Meme after coming to dinner the first time.  With our family, the thank you isn't in the note, the thank you is in enjoying the food and making it known right then and there, maybe bringing flowers, and making sure the dishes are done before you leave.  My Meme can do a lasagne dinner {always one meat and one vegetarian} with her eyes closed and her hands tied behind her back, even at 85 years old.  I want to be her, I never want the family dinners to stop as long as I'm alive.

She taught me how to cook and I blame her completely for my LOVE of a gorgeous set table because she put me in charge of setting the china {her wedding present and then her gift to me for mine} every year at Thanksgiving.  Things aren't really written down and you better know what a pinch of this and a handful of that will do to the dish because there aren't teaspoons and cups of anything.  It drives my cousin's wife insane because everytime she asks for a recipe it's the same story... "Well there isn't a recipe, but I can tell you how to do it."  So that is why most of my 'recipes' on here are guessimations.  Half the time I make something, even I can't remember what went into it, but I can tell you how to do it.

You're thinking to yourself that I MUST have mis-titled this post, but I'm getting to it, I promise.  We all get together in July every year, my aunts and cousins fly or drive in and sometimes October too, but always July.  We have a family dinner most every night they're here and the last couple years, I've hosted a night.  This is a big thing.  So this year I went with a Greek inspired dinner and it was delish.

Fast forward months and here we are.  Half a roasted chicken in the fridge, and the need to come up with something for dinner.  Without further ado, I give you the worlds easiest chicken gyros.


EASY Chicken Gyros
Shred into largeish chunks a roasted chicken.  {This is great for what to do with leftover chicken OR you can even BUY a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.}  Cover the shredded chicken with greek seasoning, olive oil, & a little lemon juice.  I made my own mix by searching online and making my own.  Set aside in the fridge until needed, I did this a day ahead of time when making it for the whole fam and used 2 rotisserie chickens from Costco.  Tonight I did about a quarter of a leftover chicken for the three of us and there is some for tomorrow too.  Get a pan hot and throw the chicken in just till fragrant, then add some water and let simmer in the spices until heated through and some of the water has evaporated off a bit.  Um, that is all for the chicken.  BEYOND easy!

Peel, remove seeds, and cut up half a cucumber.  Put it in a strainer over a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Put in the fridge for an hour or two.  Use half a big container of greek yogurt... in case it needs to be said, use the plain & not the one with honey.  Grate a quarter an onion into the yogurt, finely mince about a heaping teaspoon of garlic and add that.  Go out to the garden, grab a handful of mint and cut that into fine strips and add.  Add the cucumber.  Mix it all up and let it sit in the fridge until you're ready to eat. 

Cucumber Salsa
Cut up the other half of the cucumber (also seeded) from the tzatziki.  Cut up a quarter of red onion into thin slices.  Cut up a tomato (also seeded) if you want.  Mix it together.

To assemble... add a little bit of each either to naan, pita pockets, or pita flatbread.  Add some shredded lettuce to the mix and ENJOY!

And you MUST make this Orzo dish.  It's by far my husband's favorite.  It sounds really weird, but everyone loves this.  Out of any dish I make, this is probably the one I get asked about most.

Orzo Pasta Salad
Cook the orzo according to the directions on the package, I used half a package for the purposes of this recipe.  Don't forget to salt the water.  When cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.  While the pasta is cooking, toast a handful {1/4 - 1/2 cup} of pinenuts in a pan.  Set aside until cooled.  Chop up the same amount {1/4 - 1/2 cup} of dried cherries.  Finely cut into strips a handful of fresh basil leaves.  Zest half a lemon directly onto the cooked orzo & squeeze the juice onto the pasta.  Dump all the stuff in and add about 1/4 cup of olive oil & sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper or just plain black pepper.  Mix the whole thing together, then add about 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese and mix that in.  Refrigerate until you're ready to eat.

So tonight I just made the gyros and orzo.  The full menu from this summer follows:
  • chicken gyros
  • cucumber salsa
  • tzatziki
  • orzo pasta salad
  • roasted potatoes {baby reds quartered and roasted at 400 degrees with a quartered onion, lemon zest, garlic salt, oregano and black pepper}
  • iced mint sweet tea
  • pear, cranberry, and pistachio salad {half romaine, half spinach & with a homemade vinagrette}
  • spinach, feta, and pinenut phyllo cups
  • minted fruit salad with a ginger simple syrup
  • hummus & pita chips
Whew is that a LONG post.  Let me know if anything needs further clarification on any of the recipes!

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