Tuesday, September 22, 2009



I made a bee-line over to Naji's on West Valley when I decided on gyros for the game . If you've never been, plan to add it to your short list... serving up the very best pita bread in the Birmingham area... baked fresh daily and selling to most of the Greek restaurants in town, it's quite the little gem. Naji's also serves lunch and dinner, although I've never tried it myself. I just go for the still-warm-from-the-oven flat bread and peruse the small food market for tahini paste, sesame seeds, and the like.

So I guess you could say that I'm a pita bread snob, to drive clear across town for some flat bread... although I like to think of it more as a loyalty. Not from around here? Check Mom and Pop joints in your hometown for their specialties and be sure to show them and your tummy the love by visiting often.

The Easy Grilled Chicken Gyros are so simple to make. For extra tastiness, we'll drizzle them with a Quick Tzatziki and top with a Tomato-Olive Relish.

Tomato-Olive Relish
Makes about 2 1/3 cups
Prep: 8 min.

Game Plan: Prepare Friday night. Allowing the feta to hang out on top of the olive mixture will keep it's color bright and fresh looking.

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved and lightly salted (Plenty of salt in olives & feta, so don't go crazy.)
2/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 Tbsp.+1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley (Don't spend all day on it. A rough chop will do and a few stems are fine too.)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup feta

Stir together first 4 ingredients and transfer to a 3-cup plastic portable container. Top with feta and snap on lid. Refrigerate or pack in an icy cooler.

The Extra Point: Serve with fish or make a Greek-style salad and serve over lettuce with cucumber slices, pepperoncini peppers, and red onion slices. Fresh mint can be substituted for parsley.

Quick Tzatziki
Makes 1 3/4 cup
Prep: 8 min.

Game Plan: Prepare Friday night. Delicious with Greek-style yogurt. Expect a thicker, richer sauce with more cellulite. (Personally, I would have gone with the cellulite option myself, but Target and Wal-Mart were plum out.)

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 medium cucumber; peeled, seeded, and sliced (use a spoon to scrape the seeds out)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 small garlic clove, pressed
Salt to taste

Stir together first 4 ingredients and sprinkle with salt to taste.

The Extra Point: Try it with mint for a fresh twist. Simply omit the dill.

Easy Grilled Chicken Gyros
Makes 8 servings
Prep: 15 min., Grill: 8 min.

Game Plan: On Thursday, soak 8 skewers in water to prevent them from catching ablaze on the grill (or up to 30 minutes before threading).

8 chicken tenders (Buy frozen ones & thaw in fridge overnight.)
8 (12-inch) wooden skewers
2 tsp. Montreal Chicken seasoning (McCormick Grinder)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 of a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (use it if you need it)
4 pita rounds, cut in half

Thread chicken on wooden skewers (think snake-like, and secure at close intervals). Place chicken skewers on a long piece of plastic wrap (horizontal... let the sticks hang off of the wrap), sprinkle both sides with seasoning, and drizzle with olive oil (you can grill now if you'd like to... I don't mind cold chicken in my pita). Roll up plastic wrap with chicken skewers and wrap well with foil so that everything is well contained. Place in a 2-gallon zip-top bag, seal, and refrigerate.

For the onion, spray both sides with Pam and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slide into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate (or go ahead and grill, if you want to make it ahead of time). Refrigerate, then toss in an icy cooler along with the chicken just before you leave the house.

Grill chicken skewers and onion slices over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) for 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked and onion is tender. Squeeze both with fresh lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with Quick Tzatziki and Tomato-Olive Relish in pita halves.

The Extra Point: Think beyond the tailgate. Simple enough for any weeknight meal and special enough to serve company.

***Don't forget to pick up some hummus dip (I'll show you how to make your own another time) and pita chips from the deli section of the grocery store. Try the Sabra Classic Hummus, I think you'll like it.***

Hold the pita bread in your hand, fold it, and give the skewer a tug to remove.

Does this sound do-able to you?

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