It seems that everyone has joined the whole Greek yogurt craze now in the States which is great for me because it was only available at specialty food stores for the first few years I moved here. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained to remove the whey (the lactose/milk sugars) which is why it is thicker and has a unique sour taste. This process means it can be used at high temperatures in cooking, is higher in protein and is easier on the stomach making it perfect for those of us who are lactose intolerant. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean that all yogurt in Greece and Cyprus is strained (or called ‘Greek yogurt’ for that matter!) You can buy both regular and strained yogurt in the supermarket. Strained yogurt can be made with sheep’s milk (more traditionally found in the villages- and my favourite!) or cow’s milk, and is present at every meal like a condiment; especially good with grilled meats and roasted potatoes. Furthermore, you will find it on dessert menus served with chopped walnuts and drizzled honey.
In the states when we say Greek yogurt we are really just referring to the cow’s milk and strained variety . Even then, not all “Greek” yogurts in the States are made equal! A lot of the american brands, I am sad to say, don’t really capture the same thick texture or signature sour flavour which makes strained yogurt so delicious. Fortunately, FAGE (pronounced fa-yeh)
is a Greek dairy manufacturer who has set up shop in the United States due to the increase of demand from Greek settlers. Their more authentic strained yogurt is easily available everywhere, even Walmart! This is the only strained yogurt I really like and it’s the one I recommend for today’s Pinteresting Monday (and any!) recipe; Chicken Pitta with Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Relish.
I am always a bit dubious about trying a recipe that is supposed to be ‘Greek’ because it will sometimes mean it’s not authentic! And the following recipe, although delicious, is completely unauthentic even in its name as I will shortly explain. However, with a couple of tweaks this is a favourite at our house and definitely worth sharing.
Grilled Chicken (deconstructed) ‘Tzatziki’ from Style at Home by Tracey Syvret. Tzatziki is a Greek dip made with thick strained yogurt, minced fresh garlic, salted cucumber and dried mint or dill. This recipe is not for Tzatziki but for a cucumber relish without yogurt which is why I have adjusted the name to be more culturally accurate!
For chicken marinade: I skipped this whole section and just bought Lemon Pepper Rotisserie Chicken from the grocery store! Saved me hours and made this an easy weeknight meal.
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice + 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Pinch salt
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For cucumber relish: This relish really is flexible. I take out ingredients that either my husband or I don’t like, and substitute the parsley for dried mint.
- 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup seeded, finely diced tomato
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 6 tbsp coarsely chopped and pitted black olives
- 4 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 To prepare chicken marinade, whisk all ingredients except chicken breasts together in a bowl. Combine marinade with chicken breasts in a large zip-lock bag, seal and gently shake to evenly distribute marinade over chicken. Place in refrigerator and chill for 2 to 4 hours. Again, I just used rotisserie chicken so I skipped this whole bit and saved myself some time and aggro!
2 Meanwhile, prepare the cucumber relish. Lay cucumber slices in a sieve placed over a bowl and sprinkle with pinch of salt. Leave for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until cucumbers soften and their liquid begins to drain into the bowl. Stir occasionally. This is definitely worth the wait however, if you forget to do this in advance (like I often do) it’s not the end of the world! I just let it drain while cutting up the other veggies and chicken by which point the cucumbers are fine.
3 Combine the tomato, onion, olives, parsley, dill, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir in drained cucumbers, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Again- although it makes the relish wonderfully delicious over time, I have skipped this when in a hurry and just enjoyed the leftovers all the more the next day!
4 Grease grill and preheat to medium-high. Remove chicken from zip-lock bag and discard marinade. Grill chicken breasts until cooked through, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove chicken from grill, let rest for a few minutes and slice thinly on the diagonal. (again I just chopped up rotisserie chicken) Lay chicken slices on top of each pita round and divide relish evenly among them.
Garnish with a little extra yogurt and serve. I ALWAYS serve this with plain Fage yogurt to keep it closer to the Tzatziki idea and because it just tastes awesome!
What I truly love about this recipe is that it’s like eating a healthy chicken gyro in the middle of the week without any of the guilt but all of the flavour and comfort! Plus it’s really easy and quick with the swap for store bought rotisserie chicken.