Souvlaki Chicken Salad with Pita Croutons May 26, 2015

 Classic Souvlaki Sandwich turned into a Salad!

Souvlaki Chicken Salad with Pita Croutons

 Summertime is approaching and grilling season is in full swing. For those who crave the smoky flavor of grilled food do not wait for the summer, they are year round veterans.

One of the most popular ways to grill is on the stick…..whether it be meat, seafood, veggies or even fruit, the stick is the way to go. Making a kebob is perfect, especially of you have smaller items to grill. In American English the word “sis kebap” is Turkish for cooked on a skewer! Traditionally made with lamb and vegetables.

 Then you have the ever popular “Souvlaki” which was a term of the medieval Greek term “Souvla” which refers to small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. So a Souvlaki stick does not have any vegetables on it, just small pieces of the marinated meat. The ever popular Souvlaki Pita Sandwich seems to be the front runner over Shish-Kebobs in Greek Carry outs and Restaurants. The meat used to make Souvlaki is traditionally Lamb or Pork, but Chicken has moved in on the popularity because it is leaner and some believe it is healthier.Souvlaki Chicken Salad

A great part of the Souvlaki Pita Sandwich comes from the toppings that are nestled inside of the Pita on top of the grilled meat. First you have a mix of fresh tomatoes, sweet onions and fresh parsley, chopped into small pieces to fit into the Pita. Then this delicious marinated grilled meat and fresh vegetable mixture is topped with the ever-so popular Tsasiki Sauce.

 The Tsasiki is made of Greek yogurt, cucumber, fresh lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and dill. It is so creamy and delicious and is traditionally served with almost any type of Greek Lamb dish. I however make a big batch when I am serving grilled or roasted Lamb, fish, chicken, vegetables and “Yes” I even use it as a vegetable dip and salad dressing! If I do not have time to make my own yogurt, I buy the big 35oz of  O% Fage Yogurt as my base for the Tsasiki. It is such a healthier alternative to sour cream and mayonnaise based dressings and the taste is amazing!!!Souvlaki Chicken Salad

This Recipe is simply taking this wonderful sandwich and turning it into a delicious salad. If you close your eyes, it is just like biting into a Souvlaki Pita Sandwich minus the dripping of meat juices, tsasiki and tomatoes running down your hand and your arm in most cases…..Lol!!!

To prevent this luscious Sandwich from getting soggy, it is best made to order and therefore requires someone laboring by the grill and missing out on the Ice Cold Mojitos being passed around!! Forget that!!!I say, leave room on the grill for the hot dogs and hamburgers and cook your souvlaki meat before your guests come. I have turned this traditional sandwich into a delicious Salad that does not skip a beat in flavor or texture! Plus the bonus is it can be made ahead of time and brought out with the other prepared foods. This dish is perfect for an outdoor or indoor party year round!I used Chicken, but of course Lamb and Pork are also delicious.

****Note: if you are craving this salad in the middle of a snow storm and your grill is covered……no worries, I have the tricks to make it taste just as good as grilled, ( well maybe not exactly, but close!)

Souvlaki Chicken Salad with Pita Croutons

 prep time: 20 min                  cook time:15-20- min.            yield: 8 servings

 4  large boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 6-8 small

Marinade:Souvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken Salad

1 bottle of Beer, I used Budweiser ( no light please)

1/2 cup of lemon juice (bottled is ok for this)

1/2 cup Olive Oil

2 Tbs. Greek dried Oregano

6  garlic cloves, chopped

2 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tbs. black pepper

1 tbs. salt

****(If you cannot grill this meat add 1 tbsp. smoked paprika)Souvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken Salad

Greek Tsasiki Recipe:

I  container of your homemade Greek Yogurt or a Fage 35oz nonfat yogurt

I whole cucumber

2 whole garlic cloves

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp. dill fresh if possible,

1 tsp.. onion powder

1-2 tsp. sea saltSouvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken Salad

1 tsp. black or white pepper

1/8 cup olive oil

 Vegetable Salad:

6 med sized tomatoes

1 med red onion

1 med bunch of fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste                                     *****Note: I like my chicken salads with bigger chunks, but certainly cut everything even smaller if desired!

3-4  Slices of Pita Bread

olive oil for brushing pita

1 bag of Arugula

Mix the beer, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, garlic, granulated garlic, black pepper, salt and smoked paprika if you are not grilling the meat. Mix really well and set aside. Clean the chicken breasts and cut into small cubes, then place them in the bowl with the marinade. Let this marinate for at least 12 hours or up to a day. The longer this marinates the better the flavor of the meat. Now make the Tsasiki, this also taste better when the flavors have  had a chance to marry. Seed, peel and grate a regular cucumber, if you are using an English cucumber, no need to seed it or peel it. Know take a heavy duty paper towel or s small piece of cheese cloth and place the grated cucumber in the middle, bring the ends up and gently squeeze the juice out of the cucumber. Place in a bowl with the yogurt, add the lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper. Mix very well and then cover and refrigerate also for 12 hours or up to a day before making the salad.

 When it comes time to make the salad, you must cook the meat on the grill, very hot coals, turning after 5-7 minutes or they start turning brown. If you are not using a grill, turn your oven to broil and the oven shelf about 4-5 inches from flame.

Wet wooden skewers and then skewer your meat on the skewers until all the meat is used. Place the skewers on the hot grill and do not touch them until the meat starts to break away from the grill. If you are cooking them in the oven, place them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place the skewers on tray and place in the oven. After about 5 minutes baste the chicken skewers and then turn them, repeat and baste the cooked side of each skewer.

Just make sure the temp. of the chicken reaches at least 150 degrees, but no higher for you do not want dry chicken. Both sides should be golden brown. Remove from Grill and wrap in foil, the chicken will continue to cook and set aside on a plate to cool. If broiled, remove the pan from oven and take the foil in the pan and wrap it around the chicken. Lift and put on a dish to cool. Then remove chicken from skewer, do not throw away any juices from pan. Place back on plate a strain any of the cooking juices on top of the chicken. While the chicken is cooking you will make the tomato, onion and parsley mixture, set aside.

For Pita Croutons, Brush Pita bread with the olive oil and place on grill rack or in the oven under broil and turn after 2 minutes, cook another 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat, when they are crispy. Immediately cut into very small bite size triangles. They will get harder as they sit, so you must cut them when they are warm. Or cook them a little less crispy and place a ring of them around the salad and have guests use them to top this delicious salad.

To assemble the salad: in a large mixing bowl, place the tomato mixture, the chicken without juice and then the tsasiki, starting with 1 cup. Mix well folding gently with a large spoon. Add more dressing if needed, taste for salt and pepper. First of all you are not going to be able to stop eating the salad at this point!!!!! So you need to stop eating it and place it in the refrigerator. After an hour remove and see if the salad needs more dressing, you should have plenty  Tsasiki left.

When you are ready to serve, place Arugula on a platter, remove Souvlaki chicken Salad from the refrigerator. Now either mix in the extra small crispy pita triangles and place on top of the Arugula. Or place the larger not so crispy pita wedges around the base of the salad.

 Either way, if you close your eyes I promise that you will think you just took a bite of an authentic Souvlaki Sandwich!

Enjoy!Souvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken SaladSouvlaki Chicken Salad

Cheff Steff

 
 

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