Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

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

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INGREDIENTS

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

Chicken Marinade

  • 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

Other

  • pita bread
  • 1-2 tomatoes, diced
  • lettuce (or cucumbers)
  • red onion, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Tzatziki Sauce

  1. 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.
  2. Shred the peeled and seeded cucumber. Wrap in cheesecloth or a sturdy paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  3. Mix cucumber, yogurt, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, salt and pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Note: the sauce can be made at least a day in advance.

Chicken

  1. Mix the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the chicken breasts; mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.
  3. 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.

Assembly

  1. 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.
  2. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.

SOURCE: adapted from Annie’s Eats who adapted from Elly Says Opa!

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6 thoughts on “Chicken Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Hi Maria,

    I finally unburied your blog address from my home desk and signed on. Loving your site and hoping you are having a fabulous summer. Have you ever stopped at the International market(s) at the corner of Hawthorne and PCH for their pita bread. I think it is the best and definitely the most fresh. When I do stop in there, I make a point to buy one ingredient or product I have never tried. Last time I bought some frozen veal raviolis or perogies depending on what country you would like to be…..delicious.

    Cheers, Erin

  2. Sounds odd, but the best way to heat pita bread so it doesn’t split and dry out, is in the microwave. Put the pita in a plastic zipper bag, wet your finger tips and flick the water into the bag (do this twice), zip the bag closed and microwave for 30 seconds per three pieces of bread. It works with tortillas as well.

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