Greek Souvlaki (Kabob), Tzatziki and Horiatiki (Recipes)
Doesn’t this image conjure up a beautiful feeling of relaxation and ease?
No cares, no to-do list. Just blue sea, delicious food, a bottle of wine, and a warm summer breeze.
I sure wish I could tell you I took that photo – because it would mean I was sitting on Santorini, basking in the warm glow ;)
And technically I could have taken that photo because I was in Greece for three months during college, reading novels by Nikos Kazantzakis while sitting in the places he described, wandering archeological digs, viewing famous ruins, soaking in the sun…
… and eating and eating and eating.
The other images here actually are of my time in Greece, but I searched in vain for shots of my favorite dishes. Looking back through my albums (of photos taken on real film and actually printed out, no less) I see that I wasn’t much into food photography at that time. LOL. I guess it was before Facebook and social media made taking photos of your dinner a thing. (gasp! Was there really such a time?!)
I loved every minute of my time in Greece and when the Farmhands are old enough to travel it’s absolutely on my list of places to return to. It’s a bit hard not to start tapping my foot right now.
Luckily it’s easy to recreate a tasty bite of the memories right here at home.
After all we have some pretty amazing ocean views around here, too, and the summer sun is shining.
All that’s missing is the authentic food – and I have a fix for that :)
That’s what I’m sharing today - my tried and true recipes to conjure up the taste and aroma of dining in Greece.
These tasty dishes never fail to start me on a trip down memory lane.
Souvlaki with Pita (Kabob) is an iconic Greek dish and my favorite to whip up when I feel the call of returning to the islands, especially this time of year when all the necessary ingredients are fresh, local and oh-so-tasty.
The marinated meat is the cornerstone to the classic Greek flavor, accompanied by tomatoes, onions, and Tzatziki.
Pitas are optional, as are French fries…
If you’ve been to Greece, you know that French fries come with pretty much everything. I was sure surprised the first time I ordered an omelet and it was full of fries! And often Souvlaki with Pita is served stuffed with fries in addition to the meat and vegetables.
I happen to prefer my Souvlaki without fries, but of course feel free to add them for the sake of nostalgia ;)
And it all comes together with a drizzle of Tzatziki and accompanied by a dish of Horiatiki (traditional Greek salad). I’ve included those recipes below, too.
“Souvlaki” refers to grilled meat cooked on a skewer, but if you’re not one for using the grill you can roast or broil the marinated meat in the oven. I bet you could even pan fry it, too (without breading). I haven’t tried that yet, but I imagine it would do the trick.
*What cut of meat should I use?
Pork and beef are both great options for this recipe.
For pork, we suggest the kabob pieces, which are cut from the leg. Trim away any of the silvery interconnective tissue (silver skin) as it can be tough to chew with quick cooking methods like those used for this recipe. Then cut it into bite sized pieces before skewering and grilling.
The same goes for beef stew meat. Stew meat is a great option as long as you remove the interconnective tissue before grilling. It is absolutely worth it to take a bit of time for this extra step.
Pork chops also make amazing souvlaki/kabob.
I do suggest cutting the meat fairly small before cooking, we like 1” pieces, but small pieces equal a short cooking time.
Don’t overcook! No more than medium doneness.
You want the meat to hit the safe cooking temperature and then come off the heat or you risk drying it out and making it tough. And remember that the temperature will continue to rise for 5 or so minutes after you remove it from the heat.
Another important ingredient for traditional Souvlaki is Tzatziki, the zippy cucumber sauce, and I’ve included my quick recipe.
And it just wouldn’t be complete without Horiatiki - traditional Greek Salad – another recipe you'll find below. Make sure you pick up the freshest, tastiest veggies because this is one of those times that the quality ingredients make it or break it. Thank goodness the local cucs and toms are on!
Until we can step on that plane to Greece, the taste and aroma of these recipes have me marching right down memory lane. I can almost see the blue doors…
Souvlaki (Kabob) with Pita
1 lb pork or beef cut into 1” pieces *see notes above for best choices
¼ C olive oil
1 T fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
2 T lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Onion, thinly sliced
Fresh parsley, chopped
Tzatziki (recipe below)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl or zip top bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Stir occasionally to make sure all the meat is in contact with the marinade.
Place pieces of meat on skewers and grill over medium heat (or roast in oven) until just done. About 145 degrees internal temperature.
Allow to rest five minutes.
Serve on warm/grilled pitas with onion, tomato, a sprinkle of parsley and tzatziki.
1 C Greek yogurt
½ C cucumber, shredded, allowed to drain and squeezed of excess water
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 T olive oil
1 T vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
A few grinds of pepper
Combine all ingredients gently with a hand mixer or blender. Adjust salt and pepper as desired
Horiatiki (Traditional Greek Salad)
2 tomatoes sliced into wedges
1 cucumber, sliced thick
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 oz feta cheese in large chunks
2-3 T olive oil
1-2 T vinegar
Arrange prepared vegetables on a plate. Scatter a handful of Greek olives and the feta on top.
Drizzle with the oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and oregano.