Growing up in Orangeburg there weren’t many options for dining out. There was Duke’s Barbecue, a favorite but only open three days a week, and the House of Pizza, a family-run restaurant that served a combination of authentic Greek and Italian food.
I don’t remember what I usually ordered but I know my mother always ordered a gyro sandwich. A debate into the true pronunciation of the meal always ensued. (I am firmly on the “hee-row” side.)
I don’t cook lamb here at home but I do enjoy a gyro sandwich knock-off. This is a chicken gyro sandwich – a little easier to manage in your kitchen than tracking down lamb and cooking it traditionally. I make my own homemade pita – you wouldn’t believe the difference between homemade and store bought, so if you are feeling ambitious give homemade a try!
Whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, yogurt, and oregano in a bowl. Add the chicken and coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the broiler or grill. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and then cook thoroughly, about 5 minutes per side. Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.
Meanwhile, heat your pitas. Top the pita with the chicken, tzatziki, tomatoes, onions. Roll up and eat!
My mom and I have an annual tradition of running the Cooper River Bridge Run (have you heard of it?).
It is SO inspiring to do the same thing as nearly 40,000 other people. “Hey! Let’s run across this bridge! Let’s get as many people as possible!” As you can see, the crowd is just huge.
My mom has been running the race since the 1980s. Naturally, it has grown since then, and it has even changed bridges. It just gets better and better every year. Lately, we’ve been staying with friends of my mom’s who happen to have a beach house on the starting side of this point-to-point race.
I usually put together a meal for us to enjoy the night before the big race and pasta is a natural go-to for this sort of stuff (even though I totally don’t carb load before races). I had seen Elly’s Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parm ages ago and planned on making that meal. When I made the motions to make this meal I realized I had no more quinoa and I sort of don’t feel like buying it anymore, so I subbed whole wheat pearl/Israeli cous cous. It was a great sub and one that the Omnivore surely prefers.
I also changed it up a bit by using a whole roasted chicken. Baking meat on the bone with the skin makes for a much deeper flavor. Roast your own bird or pick one up from the store and you are good to go! This meal is hearty and filling but not overly fattening or heavy. Great for a pre-race meal or a Sunday dinner!
Chicken Parmiginia Bake (6-8 servings) (adapted from Elly Says Opa)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1Tbsp. crushed, dried, basil
2 cups pearl cous cous
4 cups water or broth
1 5-lb whole roasted chicken, cooked and meat removed and bones discarded
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 and spray two 2-qt. baking dishes with cooking oil.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil.
Stir in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it is reduced, about 3 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Place the cous cous and water or broth in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
Assemble the casserole by placing the cous cous, sauce, and chicken in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
In each prepared casserole, place the mixture in the baking dish until it is halfway up the sides, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
Top with the remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat with other casserole.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 10 more minutes.