Chicken Gyros with Tsatziki and Cucumber Salsa
March can feel like the longest month of the year with just a hint of spring teasing us into rummaging through the closet for summer clothes and eyeing the gardening tools with longing. One look at the thermometer gives us pause and we end up fantasizing about lunching al fresco somewhere hot and sunny – perhaps a taste of the Greek islands will tide you over until Mother Nature smiles down upon Maine and brings us flip-flop weather.
CHICKEN GYROS WITH TSATZIKI AND CUCUMBER SALSA
2 small pickling type cucumbers (like Kirby), divided use
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided use
4 garlic cloves, peeled, divided use
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
4 (8 inch size) pieces of Naan bread OR flat bread
2½ cups cooked and shredded roast chicken
½ head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
To make the tsatziki: Peel and grate 1 cucumber, and squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water moisture. In a small bowl, combine cucumber with yogurt, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, one clove garlic, minced, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To make the salsa: Peel remaining cucumber and dice. Place in a small bowl and add tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, 1 clove garlic (minced), remaining ½ teaspoon lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Combine olive oil, basil, oregano, remaining 2 garlic cloves (minced), ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a small heavy saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Remove pan from heat and measure out 3 Tablespoons of the herbed garlic oil. Add chicken to oil and toss to coat. Brush one side of bread with remaining oil and place bread, (oiled side up) on a sheet pan. Cover with foil and place in preheated broiler, 3-4 inches from heat source, and cook 3 minutes. Remove foil and continue broiling for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown in spots.
Spread some of the tsatziki on warm bread; top with chicken, salsa, and lettuce. (Serve remaining lettuce, salsa, and tsatziki on the side.)
Yields 4 servings.
Paula Anderson is a contributing writer to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine, as well as a columnist for 3 Maine Newspapers with a focus on food, nutrition, and entertaining.