Posts tagged ‘Greek Cooking’

May 29, 2013

Greek Style Grilled Chicken Pita

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While trying to keep things light and healthy, I make a fair amount of chicken. Boneless chicken breasts are not very forgiving. Just a minute past perfect, breast meat will become dry and unappetizing. With everyone’s understandable concern that chicken be cooked to the proper temperature, overcooked white meat happens more often than not. I’ve grown to love chicken thighs, which stay juicy and flavorful whether braised, grilled or roasted.

For those recipes that call for boneless chicken breasts I always follow two rules of thumb to keep the meat juicy and packed with flavor:

  1. Give your boneless breasts a good beating to even out their thickness. This is a great trick that results in even cooking times. You want them to be about 3/4 of an inch thick. If they’re really huge you can butterfly the breasts, open them like a book and then give them a gentle whacking.
  2. Marinate the breasts in advance, even overnight. It will help impart lots of flavor.

This is a great weeknight dinner for spring and summer when vegetables are at their peak. You can use any combination of veggies your family likes. Even grilled vegetables like eggplant (my favorite), would be a delicious addition to the sandwich. Make extra. The leftovers are fantastic.

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Marinade adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN MARINADE

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2lbs)

Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, not too thin. About 3/4 of an inch is perfect. I usually place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or you can use a Ziploc bag. Use the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet or even a rolling-pin.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a baking dish or Ziploc bag. Place the chicken in the marinade and turn the pieces to coat evenly. Cover and marinate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry to remove excess marinade, which will just flare up and scorch on the BBQ. Grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

ACCOMPANIMENTS FOR THE CHICKEN PITA

  • Whole wheat pita (or white, if you must)
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Hummus
  • Crumbled Feta
  • Assorted olives
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Assortment sliced veggies (tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, avocado, etc.)

Serve all of the above at the table with the chicken and allow everyone to make their own pita sandwich. A schmear of hummus and a little tzatziki will top off the Mediterranean flavors of this perfect sandwich. Leftovers make a delicious lunch the next day.

* Grill the pita for a minute or two per side to make them soft and impart a little of that grilled flavor.

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January 24, 2012

Pan Roasted Salmon with Tomato Feta Salad

Pan Roasted Salmon with Tomato & Feta Salad

I rarely get to cook salmon at home. I could eat it every night if that was an option, but the old ball and chain hates it. So when work had him away overnight, I jumped at the chance to make this dish for my daughter and I. Luckily she really enjoys most fish, so smiles were all around with this meal. I’ve never been able to master grilling salmon. If anyone has a trick to keep it from sticking to the grill, please send it along. I know the rules of cleaning and oiling the hot grill… then rubbing the fish with oil and when you put it on the grill leave it alone. I fight my desire to move it around, but invariably it sticks. Not pretty. This pan roasting technique is fairly infallible. A quick sear on one side, flip it over and throw the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking.

I had some whole wheat pita in the house, so we went the Greek route with this meal. I love to chop up lots of tomatoes and herbs, and mix it with crumbled feta. The tomatoes release their juices and it all comes together as a nice little topping for the salmon.  Put the whole thing in a warm pita with some hummus and you’ve got a really great dinner.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SALMON 

  • Fresh salmon fillets, skin removed
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub the salmon fillets all over with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Place the salmon skin side up in the pan. Restrain yourself and don’t touch it. Let it sear for about 3 minutes. The fish will start to release itself. Flip it over, it should be nicely browned. Place the whole pan in the preheated oven for another 5-7 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking. That’s it.

INGREDIENTS FOR TOMATO & FETA SALAD (Makes 2 1/2-3 cups)

  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Hearty drizzle of olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss together with enough olive oil to coat. Set aside for 15min in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to come together. Enjoy!

*If my daughter wasn’t eating this, I’d add about a 1/4 cup of chopped kalamata olives. She hates olives, what can I do? You can also serve this tomato salad as a starter with some olives and bread.


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