Mediterranean Summer

When I was going to college on the East Coast, one of my favorite quick meals involved stopping by a food cart and grabbing a gyro before evening classes. They were filling and filled with deliciously flavored meat, lots of vegetables, and sauces that made my heart sing. I liked to believe it was a healthier option than many others within reach. These days, I'm more likely to make something at home and definitely more likely to play around with ingredients and flavor combinations. And the results are often amazing:

I have to say, the marinade for the chicken is nothing less than amazing and I opened the dish it had been resting in the refrigerator in and, knowing full well it was full of raw chicken, I still drooled. It smells that wonderful. If you don't have the time or energy for the rest of the dish, at least make chicken like this a few times this summer. You will be grateful.

As for what to have alongside a fun dish like this, I'm a fan of more fresh foods. A Greek salad would be perfect, as would a pasta salad featuring orzo and a light vinegar-based dressing. You could also have more fresh veggies and bits of pita bread with hummus and/or baba ganoush. The yogurt sauce is also great with all of that, so feel free to make lots. I've even been known to just have a nice bowl of mixed olives out, pour myself a glass of wine, and call it dinner. After all, it's summer and taking it easy is sometimes just what you need.

Mediterranean Chicken Gyros

For the chicken:
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
For the yogurt sauce:
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
For serving:
  • 8 oz. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 small cucumbers, sliced
  • ½ red onion, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
  • 3 T. sliced green onions
  • ¼ c. sliced black olives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 4-6 pita breads, warmed

For the chicken, combine the first 9 ingredients (garlic through black pepper) and whisk well to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours to allow the chicken to absorb the flavors in the marinade.

For the yogurt sauce, combine all of the ingredients (cucumber through black pepper) in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade and sauté over medium-high heat in a nonstick pan. You may wish to do so in batches to encourage browning. Remove the cooked chicken and keep warm in a covered dish.

To serve, layer vegetables, yogurt sauce, feta cheese, and cooked chicken into warmed pita breads.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes