We arrived home after a 10-day trip to find 25 cucumbers had ripened on our vines!! And that’s not counting the 25+ picked prior to the trip, most of which we gave away. Next year we know to plant less cucumber seeds : )
For now, though, I need to find ways to use these up, and one of my tastiest involves grating the cucumber to mix with yogurt and garlic and lemon juice for tzatziki sauce.
I used to think tzatziki was made from mayonnaise, one of my least-liked foods, so I avoided it like the plague. Then one day I found courage to taste it when I learned it was made from yogurt. And I loved it! So light and refreshing yet with the slight lemon zing offset by the bite of garlic.
I’ve actually made this a few times in the past few months but haven’t managed to get a decent picture worth posting until now. Sometimes I’ve followed the chicken marinade from this recipe; sometimes I’ve just baked it with seasonings sprinkled on it. It’s the tzatziki that gives the gyros the ultimate flavor, in my opinion.
I’ve tried a variety of pitas for this: homemade (time consuming and labor intensive), Trader Joe’s, and the local Farmer’s Market. All of them have broken when folded and fall apart. I’m still searching for a pita that will be soft and pliable like the one from Athen’s West, a local Greek fast food joint. Or maybe I need to learn how to heat these so they become pliable, though I’ve tried wrapping them in foil and sticking in the oven for a few minutes. I’ll keep searching for both a pita and a heating method that work.
However, in the meantime, I find just the leftover chicken pieces dipped into the tzatziki sauce quite yummy for next-day’s lunch, so the pita can be left out altogether–but then you wouldn’t actually have gyros…just a dipping sauce for chicken. Delicious either way!
Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce
- 16 oz. plain yogurt, water drained out for at least 2 hours…or use Greek yogurt, which requires no draining (save 2 heaping tbsp. for chicken marinade)
- 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. fresh dill, minced (I haven’t actually included dill when I’ve made it but have seen it in other recipes)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice (then use rest of juice for chicken marinade)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 lbs. chicken (I use two boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pita bread
- 1-2 tomatoes, diced
- lettuce (or cucumbers)
- red onion, thinly sliced
- If using plain yogurt, strain the yogurt using a sieve placed over a bowl; cover with foil and let drain for at least 2 hours up to overnight in refrigerator.
- Shred the peeled and seeded cucumber. Wrap in cheesecloth or a sturdy paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible.
- Mix cucumber, yogurt, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, salt and pepper, and lemon juice.
- Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Note: the sauce can be made at least a day in advance.
- Mix the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Add the chicken breasts; mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.
- Cook the chicken, either in a skillet or under the broiler. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into strips.
- Heat pitas: either spray with olive oil and pop in toaster oven for a few minutes or wrap in foil and heat for 5-10 minutes in oven at 350 degrees F.
- Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.