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Some Nostalgic Chicken Souvlaki

by Courtney on March 30, 2011

Over the weekend, I mentioned that I had received the March issue of Cooking Light magazine, which is where I got the inspiration to make Sunday night’s pizza that rocked my socks. Fortunately, that wasn’t the only recipe that had caught my eye!

Tonight’s meal was another Cooking Light feature…

Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce

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Chicken Souvlaki actually always makes me think of the various fairs and festivals that happen in my hometown in the late spring and summer months. There’s always at least a vendor or two who will inevitably catch my attention with the amazing aromas of their chicken souvlaki gyro’s circulating through the air.

One festival in particular I can think of is our local Tulip Fest.

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While I didn’t get the chance to go last year, I can still remember, even though it was two years ago, getting a chicken gyro that was absolutely incredible!

Tulip Fest is always a good time (that large crowd you see behind us is because there was a live performance from Third Eye Blind that year),

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not to mention full of beautiful scenery! Smile (Wow, I had short hair back then!)

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I’m really looking forward to this year’s festivities! Open-mouthed smile

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So now that I’ve gotten all nostalgic on you all, let’s get back to those pitas…

Alright, so this recipe wasn’t my easiest. My first obstacle that I initially encountered with this recipe was the mere fact that I could not find tahini paste. Anywhere. Luckily, the good ‘ol internet came to the rescue and helped me find a suitable substitute…roasted sunflower seeds!

I started by adding 3/4 cup of roasted sunflower seeds + about 1/6 cup olive oil to my mini food processor.

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Then, I let the seeds do their magic.

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Eventually, I ended up with a nice thick paste that would be suitable for my tahini! Honestly, I’ve never tasted, nor bought, tahini, so I really have no clue if the taste is at all similar. But hey, it worked for me. Smile

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Unfortunately, my next obstacle came later on in my preparations…

I was a little hesitant after seeing that the recipe for the tahini sauce called for 5 cloves of garlic. Don’t get me wrong, I love my garlic…but that seemed a little excessive?!?

Nonetheless, I proceeded to follow the recipe to a “T,” which included the massive amount of garlic, plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, shredded cucumber, my makeshift “tahini,” and some lemon juice.

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However, all it took was one small dip of the finger to taste…HOLY GARLIC! No joke, this was seriously all garlic. You could taste no other flavors at all.

So I started over. And this time, using only 1 clove of garlic. The sauce was definitely still garlicky, but actually tasted enjoyable this time around. Winking smile

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Once the sauce was prepped, it was time to get the marinade for the chicken ready. THIS part of the recipe, was definitely a keeper!

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The marinade consisted of:

  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

After mixing that all up, I added in my 1lb. of boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, and let it marinate for about 30 minutes.

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Once the marinating time was up, it was time to get these little guys skewered up and ready for cookin’!

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The chicken probably only took 10-15 minutes to cook, which I rotated every couple of minutes to make sure all the sides were cooked evenly.

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YUMM! Smile

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Once the chicken was cooked, it was time to assemble the pitas and get down to business!

Our pitas were stuffed with romaine lettuce (the recipe called for iceberg, but we didn’t have any), tomatoes, cucumber slices, and the chicken.

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I served our tahini sauce on the side, just to make sure it didn’t overpower the pitas. I will say that, as strong as the sauce was on its own, it definitely blended together quite well with the other pita ingredients. It was an incredibly flavorful combo!

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I will warn you though…as good as these pitas are, make sure you’ve got some napkins on hand. They are MESSY! Disappointed smile

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Albeit messy, I’d say they’re definitely worth giving a go. At least the chicken marinade is, if you ask me!

Question for the Evening:

What are some of your favorite “vendor” foods when you attend fairs/ festivals/ carnivals?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie March 30, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Cotton candy :). When they make it fresh in front of you! It’s my 5-year-old moment ;).
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2 Erica @ A Healthy Habit March 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Yum! these look delicious and really fresh!

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3 kate@ahealthypassion March 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

ooh these pitas look delicious Ill definitely try the marinade !
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4 Shayla March 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

A soft serve cone dipped in chocolate!! :)

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5 Melissa March 30, 2011 at 8:31 pm

OMG YES to gyros!

I am a big garlic fan, but that might be a little much even for me! The other night I put so much garlic in my stir fry, I could smell it on me after I ate it–and not just on my breath! I think it was literally coming out of my pores! Hotness. Hopefully I will find a man someday who loves it as much as I do! ;)
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6 Courtney March 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm

LOL! :-D

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7 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm

That looks really good! I love pita sandwiches. When I was younger, I was all about those elephant ears at carnivals – nothing says delicious like a plate full of fried bread!!
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8 Presley March 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Those look so good. I have been CRAVING tzatziki sauce lately (DILL, yum!) so maybe I’ll make some pitas to go with it!

My favorite vendor food would definitely be a huge funnel cake :)

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9 Kelly March 30, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Funnel Cakes!!!
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10 Courtney March 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Absolutely!! :)

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11 Karen March 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I love getting pierogies from vendors at fairs! When making pierogies at home I never deep fry them so getting them from vendors at a fair is always a treat! : )
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12 Jen March 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Oh man, I live in Portland (Oregon) and we have a HUGE food cart/vendor community here – they are everywhere and they are AMAZING – I think they were voted best in the US, and were in the top ten in the world. Pretty much every ethnic food you can think of can be found at a food cart, and they are nearly all to die for. I’ve gotten a TON of inspiration from my food cart experiences that I’ve used at home. A couple weeks ago, I put a platter together to take to a baby shower, with veggies, pita bread (we have a authentic Greek restaurant that makes pita breads daily and delivers to a ton of grocery stores/restaurants/street carts – and their whole wheat pita bread is the best), with homemade hummus and since some people are iffy on hummus still, I threw together another sauce for dipping — super easy, and pretty much everyone at the shower asked me to email them the recipe. I took a container of whipped light cream cheese, threw in a garlic clove, some basil leaves, some Italian parsley, a little S&P, and a couple spoonfuls of non-fat Greek yogurt and blizted it up with my immersion blender – it comes out looking like Ranch, but tasting a billion times better! Later that week, I took a leftover whole wheat pita, smeared some of my hummus on it and threw some lettuce, tomato, cucumber and a little of that garlic herb sauce on it, and YUM! So delish!! Would have been good with cucumber and dill instead of of the basil too. (Also, I’ve NEVER been able to find tehini paste – which my hummus recipe calls for, but I did find tehinA sauce once and tried that, but didn’t think it made that much of a difference, so I just omit it from my recipe. :) I think I’m gonna have to whip up some more because now I’m craving pita sandwiches!!

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13 Courtney March 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Wow, your snacks sound delish!! :)

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14 Caroline March 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Your Souvlaki looks amazing!
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15 Faith @ lovelyascharged March 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I love fries – I have to try them at every concert I go to! So weird because it’s such an ordinary food, but everyone makes them so differently!
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16 Kimberley March 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I have always loved candy apples, not to healthy but sure are delicious :)
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17 Shanna, like Banana March 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Oooo so clever with the sunflower seeds as a sub! Love it ;)
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18 Brenda @Year 25 March 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

My favorite vendor food is sorbet. It’s perfect for a hot summer day!
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19 Tara @The Game of Life March 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

OMG these look amazing! This reminds me of food I ate when I was in Doha, Qatar over Christmas!

My favorite vendor food is brats, corn on the cob, and funnel cakes!
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20 Khushboo March 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Vanilla soft serve cones are a festival staple- always!
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21 Floey March 31, 2011 at 3:29 am

Just wondering, what type of pita bread do you use? I’ve only been able to find one brand that I really actually like

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22 Courtney March 31, 2011 at 8:02 am

The name on the package is Toufayan Bakeries. They carry it at my local grocery store and it’s pretty good! They make regular, whole wheat, and I think onion as well…?

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23 Brittney March 31, 2011 at 8:14 am

Yum! Those look delicious! I have to admit I do love a good gyro or funnel cake at a festival! Those look so much healthier than your average fair food though!
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24 Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie) March 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

Loving the sunflower seed substitution for the tahini paste. I love those chicken pitas and I most definitely have to try that marinade. One food I cannot leave without eating at a fair would have to be arepas. So much butter and cheese ;) Luckily it’s only one day!
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25 Nikki March 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

Holy complicated! I’ve just been starting to cook more and I love to look at your recipes, this is one I can say I will not be tackling any time soon. I’ll stick to the chicken alone and possibly work up to your masterpiece!

I hope you are staying positive through the whole job thing :)

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26 Holly March 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

Maybe I’m a weirdo, well, yes, for sure I am :) But I think that 5 cloves of garlic sounds to.die.for! I always double or triple garlic in recipes.So much for fresh breath ;) Good thing Craig always eats the same things as me :D
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27 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries March 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

I know the post is about your tasty meal – but I think your hair looks SO good at that length!
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28 Alexa @ Simple Eats March 31, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yum! Those pitas look delish! I would never think of a sunflower paste substitute, great idea!
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29 Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl March 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Ever since I was little, I’ve always loved funnel cakes. I think it started because of the delicious smell and because my mother told me they were off-limits :-) We have great street vendors in NYC, but I prefer food trucks! Cupcake Stop is one of my favorites.
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