How-To: Simple Greek Food
Souvlaki with Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce

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Greece gets a lot of credit for creating democracy, philosophy, and modern medicine; but their foremost achievement is their culinary delicacies. Greeks, among the more negative things in the news lately, are accredited for their longevity and healthy lifestyles (minus their predisposition to chain smoke). The secret to this is simple, delicious, good for you dishes full of fresh ingredients and always plenty of olive oil. Here's a simple recipe to have your own Greek feast at home.

 

 

Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce is a traditional staple in all Greek restaurants and goes great on everything from fish to pita chips. 

What You'll Need:

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1 pint, low fat Greek style yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 table spoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)

1 tablespoon Greek olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Prep time: 15 minutes

Inactive time: 2 hours (optional), 4 minutes

What You Do:

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain. (optional)

Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately or allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (adapted from Ina Garten)

Makes 2 1/2 cups

The perfect pairi

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ng for tzatziki is souvlaki, a common street food. This pita sandwich is made with a choice of meat, tomatoes, onions, french fries (frozen or homemade is fine), and a load of tzatziki.

What You'll Need:

2 pounds lamb trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch strips

(chicken or pork can be used as a substitute)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons Greek olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon  fresh oregano

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup grated onion

2 teaspoons Greek olive oil

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, diced

Pita bread rounds

4-6 servings of french fries

Prep time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

What You Do:

Place the meat in a bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon oregano, garlic and grated onion, and pour over the meat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Thread the meat onto metal or bamboo skewers.

Preheat a grill. Grill the skewers, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides. Remove from the grill. While meat is cooking, bake or fry french fries according to package directions. Quickly heat the pita bread on the grill until just warmed through and pliant. Holding a pita in the left hand, and the skewer in the right hand, pull the contents from the skewer into the pita bread. Repeat with the remaining skewers. Divide the onions, tomatoes, and cooked french fries among the pita, and top with Tzatziki . Serve immediately. (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Makes 4 to 6 servings