I distinctly remember the first time I had both a gyro and tzatziki. I was probably a freshman in high school and at a fancy greek restaurant with a friend in my hometown of Mill Creek, Washington. We got into a debate over how to pronounce gyro, with my friend saying “euro” and I saying “jiro.” To settle the manner, I ordered the dang thing and asked the waiter how to pronounce it. That sounds pretty standard, except I asked our young server in the most awkward way ever: “Is it gyro, like ‘to gyrate?'”
I didn’t think it was awkward until he blushed and started stammering and settled the matter for once and for all: “no it’s like ‘yee-ro’.” I may not have been right, but that mortifying encounter at least proved my friend was also not right.
(Come to think of it, perhaps the onus for this awkward encounter is on the waiter for making it awkward. At least I didn’t say like “gynocologist” or anything…. yuck.)
Years later, gyros are one of my favorite street foods, with tzatziki sauce (a sauce made with garlic, yogurt, and cucumber) served on warm pita being the primary draw.
However, now that it’s summer I’m finding myself craving healthier, lighter foods — in particular salads. So last week I cooked up a big batch of chicken, made some tzatziki sauce, and found myself in heaven with a healthier alternative to a pita-bread based gyro.
I mean really: just look at this salad pre-dressing. And this was before I remembered to put cucumbers on it! Bring on the swim-suit season.
Seriously, bring on the swim-suit season.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is also how easy to make the chicken is. This method of baking chicken is quick, clean, and a life saver for meal prep. You can make enough chicken to last you the week in about 20 minutes, easy. Of course, for this recipe, the chicken I used Greek seasoning, but you can adapt this technique with any seasoning you want!
Something that I didn’t realize until recently is that tzatziki sauce is more difficult to spell than make, which is what makes me really excited to share this recipe: not only am I finally learning how to spell it, I get to share with you the super-easy recipe.
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ English cucumber
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 10 oz Greek yogurt, plain
- 1 tsp scant lemon juice
- 1 tbsp mint, blanched
- 2 lbs Chicken breasts (boneless/skinless)
- 2 tbsp Greek seasoning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Romain Lettuce
- English Cucumber
- Peppers, sliced
- Feta Cheese, crumbled
- Red onion, sliced
- Blanch mint leaves by submerging them in boiling water for about 5 seconds, and then putting them in an ice bath. Dry them on a paper towel. This helps them keep their color and freshness.
- In a food processor, process the garlic until it is finely minced. Then add the cucumber, salt, pepper, yogurt, lemon juice, and mint.
- Chill for at least an hour
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Chop the chicken into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with Greek seasoning and olive oil.
- Spread the tossed chicken on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes.
- Simply assemble all ingredients!
I don’t make a habit of listening to Greek music, so I googled “Greek Music” and this was one that popped up and I LOVE IT. It just screams happy summer times and inspires me to eat salads non-stop while making plans to party at a beach somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Translated, the chorus is “”5, 4, 3, 2, 1 count down to be with you 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 my love, you fire burning inside my heart.” So I’m thinking the song is actually about Tzatziki sauce? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.