For some reason, I really don’t make a lot of fusion foods…but I do like to update classic dishes with slight subtle nuances to keep them fresh and exciting. This fusion was born out of necessity to solve a problem I had with making gyros at home (more about that in a second), and it really is a match made in heaven. Kebab is a Middle Eastern dish of ground meat (typically lamb, but occasionally beef) that’s seasoned with parsley, onion, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper (and sometimes other spices such as paprika, cinnamon, etc.). Nimble fingers mold the spiced ground meat into a cylindrical shape on skewers, and then it’s char-grilled to perfection.
Gyro sandwiches are a Greek dish of gyro meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce rolled up in pita bread. Gyro meat is often lamb, but can be anything from beef to veal to chicken; it’s spiced with a spice mixture that’s similar to kebab spices (with the addition of oregano) and cooked on a vertical rotisserie. As you can see, making gyros at home poses somewhat of a problem…who has a vertical rotisserie?! (Mike, darling, if you’re reading this, just an FYI…if you buy me one we can also use it to cook shawarma… ;) )
Since the meat in both dishes is so similar tasting, I thought why not make kebab meatballs in the oven and turn them into gyro sandwiches? (Definitely a fun solution to solve the problem of how to make gyros at home without a vertical rotisserie, isn’t it?) These sandwiches were a beautiful combination of flavors (it’s the tzatziki that makes them!) and of course I couldn’t resist adding a little feta to the mix for a little extra oomph. Served alongside salad greens, sliced tomato and cucumber, and kalamata olives, it was a fantastic meal.
(Yield: 4-5 servings)
Kebab Meatballs (see below)
Tzatziki Sauce (see below)
Pita, or any kind of flatbread you like (I used pocketless pitas)
Crumbled feta (optional)
1 lb ground lamb or beef
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced
1/2 medium onion, very finely diced
2 large cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
1 c Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, but it will be more watery)
3-inch piece of seedless cucumber, washed, dried, and grated on a box grater
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 TB olive oil
1/2 TB lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried dill or crushed mint (optional)
Gyro Meatballs: Preheat oven to 350F and brush a little olive oil on a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine all ingredients. Scoop into meatballs (I use a 1 1/2 TB ice cream scoop and I get about 15-20 meatballs) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until fully cooked (20-30 minutes), flipping the meatballs once halfway through cooking.
Tzatziki Sauce: Stir together all ingredients; chill until ready to serve.
To Serve: (Optional: If you want to warm the pita, wrap it tightly in foil and put it in the oven for the last 5 minutes or so that the meatballs are cooking.) Line tomato and onion slices on a pita; top with 3-4 meatballs, a dollop of Tzatziki sauce, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta.