Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cool-the-Kitchen Greek Dinner


I'm always looking for cool summertime meals that don't heat up my kitchen and takes advantage of all the fresh produce at the market and in my garden.   I'm making this tomorrow and thought it was time for a repeat in case you missed it the first time.  I did this on Studio 5 in 2013...enjoy!

I love to cook, but in the summer I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible and create as little heat in my house as possible.

Hopefully you have tomatoes and cucumbers and maybe even peppers & onions growing in the garden, but if you don't, they abound at farmer road-side stands and are inexpensive in the grocery stores. 

Staying seasonal and grilling outdoors meets all my summer-time demands with a tasty Greek street food known as Souvlaki.

Souvlaki is basically meat on a skewer.  Typically this is made with lamb or chicken, but I think Shrimp would be great too.

The method that makes Souvlaki special is using typically Greek ingredients and marinating the meat before grilling.  Pita bread, Tzatziki Sauce and a Greek salad round out the flavor and nutrition of this perfectly light and summery meal.

Chicken Souvlaki  (serves 6)

1 1/2  lb chicken breast
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
3-4 cloves garlic, minced

 Directions:

Slice chicken diagonally so you have strips (about 1/4" or so thick).  I like to thread my chicken on the skewers (back and forth) instead of cubes.  I find the chicken cooks more evening, the chicken won't rotate on the skewer and you get more crispy bits.

Place in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours, but overnight is better.

If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before adding meat.  Otherwise skewer meat onto metal skewer in a back and forth method until the skewer is almost full.  You want the meat snug but not overly tight.

Cook on a medium/high grill until each side is seared, about 8 minutes total.  Look for no pink in center of chicken.  You can continue to baste chicken with leftover marinade as long as it's cooking.  Do not baste chicken after it's cooked.

Sprinkle with finishing salt (coarse kosher salt).  Add a  lemon wedge on the plate for an extra lemon-punch.  Serve with warmed pita, shredded lettuce, Greek Salad and Tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 whole English cucumber (no seeds), grated
2 cups Greek yogurt (or strain reg. plain yogurt until thickened)
1 Tbsp (about 4 cloves) garlic, minced finely
1 heaping Tbsp fresh chopped dill (or 2 tsp. dried dill)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

Place grated cucumber in a strainer over a bowl.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  This will help to reduce the amount of moisture in the cucumber.  Let sit for 20 minutes or so, then push against strainer to remove excess moisture.  You can also dab with paper towel.

Add to the rest of the ingredients.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.  I would make this ahead of time as it tastes even better when it has time for the flavors to marry.  Will store in the fridge for as long as the yogurt says (a good week or more).

Greek Salad

1/2 English Cucumber, sliced in quarters, then 1/2" pieces
3 vine ripe tomatoes, quartered, then slices in 1/2" pieces
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopper
1/2 cup Kalamata black olives (sliced or whole)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Feta cheese

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Red wine Vinegar
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Directions:

I've give you measurements for the salad dressing, but you'll save time and get a perfect salad if you dress and taste.  Add dressing ingredients directly to the bowl without measuring.  A round (pouring olive oil from a spout one full turn) is approx. 1 Tbsp.   So 3 or 4 rounds.  3 or 4 shakes of the vinegar will equal approx. 1 Tbsp.  Taste...need more salt?  More vinegar?  Just add a bit more.  Try it!

Add all ingredients together except the cheese, sprinkle it on after it's done.


**Low carb version:  Use Sour cream instead of Yogurt (or half & half) for the Tzatziki.  Use a low carb wrap instead of a pita bread.

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