I have the best kind of Monday food for you.
Greek food is delicious on pretty much any given day, but it sure helps to get you through a Monday, don’t cha think?
So you remember how last week how I said August was gonna be all about summer foods? And that I really wanted to spend the last full month of summer eating everything and anything that SCREAMS summer? Well, I really wasn’t kidding. I am going crazy with all the farm fresh produce that comes along with the month of August. It really excites me to come up with creative ways to make the most of it all.
Although I may have to throw in a few chocolate recipes here and there that have nothing to do with summer. For some reason over the weekend I could not stop thinking about chocolate. Probably because my chocolate lover mother is coming back for a few days, so I wanted to make something that was all about chocolate. You see, when it comes to my mom and her chocolate (and me too for that matter) the mixing in of fruit is forbidden.
I also feel I should tell you that if you’ve ever seen any raspberries, cherries or strawberries on top of anything chocolate I’ve posted, you can pretty much guarantee that I put them there for the photos. This also means I probably picked the berries off and ate them separately. I am just not a fruit with my chocolate kind of girl. White chocolate, sure, but not chocolate chocolate.
So, I am taking suggestions. Nothing’s been made yet.
Ok, sorry about my all too common diversion there, but I kind get serious about my chocolate.
FYI – We all should be serious about our chocolate…no matter the season.
On to Greek food.
These plates? They have a little bit of everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything good. We are talking Greek chicken, marinated veggies, rice pilaf, Tzatziki, tomatoes, feta and homemade pita.
Have you ever had Greek Souvlaki? I made salmon souvlaki last summer and fell in love with the the flavors. So I used that recipe, but swapped chicken for the salmon. If you wanted to, you could use salmon, beef or even pork or lamb. I think pork is what the Greek’s traditionally use, but I bet lamb would be delicious too!
Instead of skewering the chicken with skewers I used the stems of rosemary. I have seen this all over the internet this summer and have been wanting to try it. The stems are awesome because they work so perfectly as a skewer while the rosemary flavors the meat. And it’s nice because they bend. It makes fitting them on a plate actually do-able. Hooray!
I had the chicken souvlaki down but I needed some carbs to go with it. Every meal needs a little carbs. It does.
So I made this really easy rice pilaf. It’s a mix of orzo pasta (I used whole wheat) and basmati rice. It’s super simple and perfect for scooping and eating with a little chicken + summer veggies.
Ah, the yummy grilled summer veggies. I marinated them in a little of the souvlaki marinade. The marinade keeps things quick and simple, but adds nice flavor to the vegetables. To top the dish off – Tzatziki. I do not think any proper Greek meal is complete with out a little Tzatziki sauce and feta cheese. Of course any Greek dish also needs to be paired with fresh homemade pita to be truly complete.
Oh, and tons of fresh herbs. I used a lot of dill, basil and oregano. So good.
Greek Chicken Souvlaki and Rice Pilaf Plates w/Marinated Veggies + Feta Tzatziki.
Yields: 4 PLATES OR BOWLS
- Veggies + Chicken Souvlaki
- 1 pound boneless chicken breast, diced into chunks
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika or paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon pepper
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
- 2 red pepper, cut into fourths
- 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 small eggplant, sliced inch 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 batch [Tzatziki | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/greek-salmon-souvlaki-gyros-with-tzatziki/]
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- warmed [pita bread | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/traditional-greek-pita-bread/], for serving
- Rice Pilaf
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta (use gluten free if needed)
- 1 cup white or brown basmati or jasmine rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water)
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs (or 2 tablespoons basil pesto)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
In a medium size bowl or glass measuring cup combine the lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, dill, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the chicken to a gallon size ziplock bag and pour half the marinade over the chicken, toss well, making sure the chicken is completely coated in the seasonings. Place in the fridge. Add the veggies to a bowl and toss with the remaining marinade. Set aside.
To make the rice. Heat a 10-12 inch sided skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and orzo pasta. Allow the pasta to get slightly golden and toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and toast the rice another 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds longer or until the garlic is fragrant. Slowly pour in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre heat the grill to medium high heat.
Grab your rosemary and strip the herbs away from its woody stem. Thread the chicken onto the rosemary stems (or just use skewers), placing them on a plate as you go.
Grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, gently flipping 2-3 times until chicken is cooked through and has light char marks. While the chicken is grilling grill the zucchini and eggplant slices for about 4 minutes on each side, or until tender. Grill the red peppers for about 5 minutes flipping once or twice during cooking. You may also use a grill pan to do this or even just cook everything on the stove. Remove everything from the grill.
Fluff the rice with a fork and then stir in the kalamata olives, pine nuts and fresh herbs.
Divide the rice among plates or bowls. Add some grilled veggies + tomatoes to each plate and then 1-2 chicken skewers. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve with warm [pita bread http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/traditional-greek-pita-bread/] and [Tzatiki | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/greek-salmon-souvlaki-gyros-with-tzatziki/].
*I always prepare my [Tzatiki | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/greek-salmon-souvlaki-gyros-with-tzatziki/] before I start on anything else. That way it has time to sit in the fridge and the flavors can mend together.
Now how healthy (and good) does that look? Told you, the perfect food for a Monday.