Souvlaki has been a culinary favorite in Greece since ancient times. Homer makes mention of a meat and bread recipe resembling souvlaki, and there are also later references to street vendors selling souvlaki with pita in Constantinople during the Byzantine era. Today, this delicious combination remains just as popular. Often eaten on the street or taken home to enjoy, you can easily duplicate this recipe, and even make it a bit healthier, by cooking it yourself at home. Packed with filling protein from the chicken, calcium from the yogurt, and a bounty of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber from the vegetables, this recipe is a nutritional homerun and a fast family favorite.
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Zest and juice of one lemon, divided
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk yogurt works best here)
- 4 tablespoons chopped dill
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
- 1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick rings
- 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced into four ¼ inch slices
- 4 small Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds
- 4 whole wheat pitas
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Sprouts and lemon wedges, to serve
- Cut each chicken breast lengthwise down the middle, so you have four thinner breasts to work with. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the dried oregano, ½ the lemon juice and zest, ½ the chopped garlic, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and allow to sit at room temperature while you prep the other ingredients.
- To make the tzatziki, whisk together the yogurt, dill, and ¼ of the minced garlic. Drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roughly chop one of the cucumbers, and mix into the dip.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion rings, a pinch of salt, and the remaining chopped garlic, and toss well to combine. Cook for 4-6 minutes, until the onions are softened and charred and golden in places. Set aside, and reserve the skillet for cooking the chicken.
- Add another splash of olive oil to your skillet, and heat over medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts in an even layer, and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until thoroughly cooked and golden brown. Transfer to a cutting board to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into strips.
- In a small bowl, toss together the sliced cucumber rounds with a pinch of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss together to combine.
- To serve, warm the pitas in the oven or a toaster until hot (about 3-4 minutes at 325 degrees). Top each pita with a generous spoonful of tzatziki, a slice of tomato, the sliced chicken, caramelized sweet onions, and the marinated cucumbers. Top with the sprouts, and serve with lemon wedges and extra tzatziki on the side.
Variations: You can cook the chicken, onions, and pita on a grill if you prefer. You can also substitute chopped romaine lettuce, or baby arugula for the sprouts. To lighten up this dish, serve it over lettuce rather than a pita.