Grilled Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce


IMG_0561-grilled-chicken-pita

This recipe is a home-run for busy families.  I created it after examining and testing three different versions. Marinated chicken with a combination of Greek spices is skewered, then seared over hot coals and served in a warm Pita bread shell with an amazing Greek Tzatziki sauce. Minimal prep time meets maximum taste — Opa!

 

For the Chicken Marinade:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup XV olive oil
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 handful fresh oregano, stemmed and fine chopped – about 4 tbs.
1 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
3 large chicken breasts

For the Tzatziki Sauce:
8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and fine chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 small sprig fresh oregano, stemmed and fine chopped – about 1 tbs.
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

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Feta cheese
Pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
10 small, ripe garden cherry tomatoes – halved
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
6 stalks scallion with greens, trimmed and cut into 1″ chunks
Greek flat or pocket pita bread
XV olive oil

5 wood grilling skewers – soaked in water for at least 1 hour

 

Directions:

Prepare the chicken marinade ingredients and whisk thoroughly in a bowl. Cut the chicken in 1/2″ slices and place in the marinade. Mix to coat and let stand covered in your fridge for at least 3 hours. Rotate once per hour.

Prepare the Tzatziki sauce and mix well. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours so it has time to set up.

Place the wood grilling skewers in water and soak for at least 1 hour so they don’t burn when placed on the grill.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers and alternate with the scallion pieces. Ensure the chicken is secure so it doesn’t fall off the skewers. Set aside on a plate to warm up to room temperature before grilling. Discard the marinade.

When ready to grill, prepare enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When the coal turns white-hot, level them and brush the grilling grate with peanut oil so the chicken doesn’t stick. Place the skewers on the grilling grate and grill for 2-3 minutes per side until the chicken’s juices run clear and there is a nice, even char. DO NOT OVERCOOK!  Remove immediately from the skewers and serve inside lightly-toasted pita bread brushed with olive oil, the tomato, red onion, Feta cheese, Kalamata olives and Tzatziki sauce.

Serves 4.

Grilled Greek skewered chicken with scallion | Culinary Compost

Grilled Greek skewered chicken with scallion | Culinary Compost

Mike’s Greek Pasta Salad


Mike's Greek Pasta Salad | Culinary Compost RecipesHere’s a great pasta salad that can be prepared in very little time. For this recipe, I cheated on the dressing; using a storebought vinaigrette instead of making it from scratch.

Over the years through experimentation, I’ve learned two secrets: First, adding just a bit of finely-grated hard parmesan to the dressing results in a richer base – it sets up better when chilled, and adds a depth of flavor and texture that’s lacking without it. Secondly, the brine from the Greek Kalamata olives adds a bit of “zing” that cannot be duplicated by just using salt. You’ll miss it if you don’t include it.

Exact proportions of the main ingredients can be adjusted to your preference — Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

12oz. bowtie pasta, cooked al dente in salted water
Fresh, small grape tomatoes – about 1.5 cups
1/2 pound pitted Greek Kalamata olives – with 3 tbs. brine reserved
1 diced sweet red bell pepper
1/2 red onion, sliced in fine rings and then quartered
7 brined pepperoncini peppers, or to taste
1/2 cup finely-grated hard Parmesan cheese
1/2-3/4 cup Kraft® Greek vinaigrette dressing, to taste
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
2 tbs. minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
Kosher or Lawrey’s® seasoned salt, to taste
Dash of garlic powder, to taste
Fresh garden oregano and basil, minced, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Boil the bowtie pasta in salted water (al dente) according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Ensure that it is drained thoroughly and then place in a large mixing bowl.

Add the Kalamata olives to the pasta and reserve 3 tbs. of the brine. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and red onion. Add the dry spices, Italian parsley, oregano and basil slowly while folding the contents to ensure even distribution. Next add the brine, fine-grated hard Parmesan and the dressing. Mix gently.

Add the pepperoncinis and fold gently to incorporate, taste and correct the seasoning if needed. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Chill for at least three hours before serving, so the flavors have time to set up.

Serves 6-8

Broiled Greek Shrimp


You gotta hand it to the Greeks on this one. Amazing recipe and very easy to prepare.

Ingredients:

1 tbs. olive oil
5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
2 lbs. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Kalamata olives
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Salt, to taste

Preparation:

Preheat broiler.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and 1/2 the parsley. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a broiler-proof baking dish and sprinkle with Feta cheese. Broil till nicely melted and slightly brown on top. Watch as it broils. It takes only a minute. Before serving, sprinkle with parsley, lemon juice, and pepper.

Greek Salad


A colorful and traditional Greek salad that is perfect for a summer evening party. This recipe feeds a large gathering. Serve in a big bowl.

Ingredients:

10 large ripe red tomatoes
1 large seedless cucumber
1 cup (1/4 lb.) Kalamata olives, pitted (about 30)
1 large red onion
15 pepperoncini peppers
1 cup Feta cheese (an 8 oz. square)
2 tbs. fresh parsley

Salad Dressing:
2 tbs. Greek Seasoning
1/2 cup XV olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar (optional)


Preparation:

Slice the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion and pepperoncinis into attractive, bite-sized pieces.

Crumble the feta and chop the parsley. In a small bowl or jar with a fitted lid, add 2 tbs. water to the Greek Seasoning and let stand for five minutes. Add to the other ingredients and whisk well, or secure lid on jar and shake.

The salad ingredients can be either layered or mixed in a large bowl. Pour the salad dressing over the salad just a few minutes before serving. Toss if desired and serve. Pass the peppermill.

 

Greek Chicken Skewers


Quick and tasty – perfect for a light lunch served with a salad or as an appetizer for a party. They can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated overnight if desired, which makes party planning easier, plus marinating the skewers will improved the flavor.

 

INGREDIENTS:

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 tbs. Greek Seasoning
1 tbs. Aleppo Pepper
1 tbs. olive oil
1 lemon cut into wedges
20 small bamboo skewers

PREPARATION:

Place skewers in a pan of water to soak while preparing the chicken. This will keep them from burning on the grill.

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Cut into 1/2 to 1″ cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the Greek Seasoning and Aleppo Pepper, olive oil and toss to coat.

Thread about 5 chicken pieces on a skewer and cook over a charcoal grill 3-5 minutes per side. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the skewers immediately after removing them from the grill. Serve hot.

Makes 20 skewers.
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 3-5 minutes on a prepared grill.