Since relocating to Dallas a few months back, my hubby and I have been in search for the perfect little Greek place in Dallas. We’ve tried several places – some meh, some fantastic (and most a decent drive). So, I recently decided to try my hand at some of our favorite Greek dishes at home so we can enjoy them more often.
The first step was figuring out what we could easily prep for without a conveniently-located Greek deli, so when I discovered awesome Mediterranean-style whole wheat pita at the grocery store, inspiration hit. Since I’m not exactly a lamb aficionado, I decided to hunt down a recipe with a more common base – Souvlaki Chicken, perfect wrapped up in a nice pita and paired with Tzatziki Sauce, a hearty Village Salad and some Couscous.
The ingredients list was surprisingly simple, and I had just about everything on hand! For the chicken, we just needed fresh lemon, olive oil, garlic, dried oregano, salt, garlic, and chicken breast tenderloins. Sounds pretty run-of-the mill, right? The secret, it turns out, to this classic Greek recipe is three-fold: lots of lemon, lots of fresh garlic, and grilling over charcoal (which my husband swears by).
- Juice of 3-4 small lemons (probably 3-4 Tbsp)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Between 1/2-1 tsp dried oregano
- About 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- A few turns of the pepper mill
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 lbs chicken breast tenderloins
I combined all these ingredients in a plastic bag, mixed well, and let marinate in the fridge for about an hour, while I went to the grocery store to pick up some low-fat yogurt to whip up some instant Tzatziki Sauce, recipe to follow. Then, we just fired up the grill and cooked for a few minutes on each side and served with fresh tomato, red onion, and baby Spinach on a grill-warmed pita (which was a nice last-minute touch). I’m usually hesitant to do chicken tenderloins on the grill, since they tend to dry up, but these stayed surprisingly moist.
- About 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (plain)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- A few turns of the pepper mill
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
Since I wasn’t planning ahead and didn’t have yogurt on hand, I just whipped up the sauce, combining all ingredients just a few minutes before we served it instead of letting it marinate together like most recipes call for (some for up to 12 hours!). I was a little nervous it wouldn’t turn out, but it was great. Again, fresh lemon juice and garlic are really a signature here, and luckily, the lemon made the kitchen smell amazing!
I did take time to prep the Village Salad earlier in the evening, since I knew it really needed the benefit of time to let all the herbs and citrus flavors to combine. I embellished a recipe I found online, and ended up with the following ingredient list:
- 3 fresh medium vine-ripe tomatoes, wedged
- 10 sweet mini peppers (red, yellow and orange), sliced
- 1/2 red onion, chopped in large chunks
- 1/2 large seedless cucumber, bite-sized pieces
- 3 thick slices Feta, cubed (about 1/4 cup)
- A handful of Kalamata olives (pitted)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- Salad vinegar (one part)
- Fresh lemon juice (one part)
- Olive oil (one part)
- Kosher Salt, a pinch
- Fresh Parsley, about 2 Tbsps chopped
- Dried Oregano, a pinch
- Black pepper, to taste
I try to keep my dressings a little lighter, so I usually flip the conventional dressing recipe one part vinegar, two parts oil, mixing vinegars to keep the flavor lighter. And of course, I usually follow my Grandma’s advice to make dressings according to taste, so these measurements aren’t exact! I made the dressing first so it could marinade while I chopped up the salad ingredients, adding all dressing elements into a salad dressing shaker and giving it a few good shakes to combine everything and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, I combined all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkled on a little Kosher salt, topping with feta chunks and olives so they didn’t get buried but their flavors could add into the mix, topped with dressing, and let it marinate in the fridge.
Spinach and Toasted Pine Nut Couscous
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon margarine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Spray olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Couscous is such a great and easy recipe, I put this together last, while the chicken was on the grill. Boil 1 cup water (I skip the butter or oil here in favor of adding it once the Couscous is cooked). Spray a small skillet with olive oil and heat garlic on medium, adding pine nuts and spraying them with olive oil, then sprinkling with Kosher salt so it all sticks together nicely. Toast nuts and garlic until brown, immediately remove from heat (because those little babies will burn up fast once they get hot!) Once water comes to a boil, add dry Couscous, stirring rapidly. Let sit for about 3 minutes, and while fluffing with a fork, slowly add butter, salt, pepper, and pine nuts. Then, stir in spinach, small handfuls at a time, until wilted. Stir in additional spinach leaves until you’ve got a nice mix.
With my hubby’s fantastic help on the grill, I was able to multi-task this meal and get everything pulled together just in time for the chicken – and grill-kissed pitas – to come off the fire. I think we were both surprised how authentic everything tasted, and how relatively simple the recipes were to shop for and create. These recipes would also be easy to double and I think would make a perfect summer cookout menu for a group! We loved this meal so much we’ve recreated it and added different elements into other meals.
Have you ever cooked any favorite Greek dishes at home? Planning to try out one of these recipes? Let me know in the comments!