Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aegean Flavours: Greek Salad & Chicken Souvlaki

A Mediterranean favourite, Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken Souvlaki combine the freshest flavours of summer with all the classic elements of a delicious Aegean-inspired lunch or dinner. Served with a heaping bowl of tzatziki and some grilled pita, the Greek salad and chicken souvlaki are lovely, light and refreshing and best of all, can be prepared well ahead of time. The chicken is marinated in a tangy dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme and oregano, and left to rest for up to four hours. 

All the flavours of an Aegean summer — farm fresh tomatoes, chilled cucumbers, 
tangy red onion, kalamata olives and fragrant feta cheese

In the meanwhile, the Greek Salad dressing can be prepared along with a pot of tangy homemade Tzatziki. For an absolutely decadent evening, start with a tasty selection of small appetizers, or mezze, such as spanokopita, grilled calimari or hummus, and finish with a tray of sweet and sticky Baklava for dessert. With little preparation, you'll be be able to settle back and savour this delicious Mediterranean feast with your lucky guests. Yassou! Cheers.

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
Serves 6

For the chicken:
2 lemons, juiced
4 tsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh oregano
2 teaspoon dried or 2 tbsp fresh thyme
A couple good pinches salt
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
24 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Tzatzki and grilled pita (optional)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of your chef's knife
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

For the salad:
2 iceberg or romaine lettuce
2 English cucumbers, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cups Greek feta cheese, crumbled

For the Tzatziki:
12oz Greek yoghurt
1 english cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, grated finely
dash of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh mint or dill (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix together. Cut the chicken thighs in half, and add to the marinade, tossing to combine thoroughly in the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

To make the dressing, combine all the 'dressing' ingredients in a resealable container and shake vigorously. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and then bring to room temperature, before tossing the salad.

For the Tzatziki, grate the cucumber, then squeeze out all the excess liquid in a tea towel. In a small bowl, combine the yoghurt, cucumber, lemon juice and garlic and mix thoroughly, adding some chopped mint or dill if desired. Cover and chill about 4 hours.

To assemble the salad, tear the lettuce into bite size pieces and place in a bowl that is large enough to hold all the salad ingredients comfortably. Scatter the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, and feta over the top. Toss with dressing just before serving.

To cook the chicken, grill over a medium-high heat until well browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. The chicken pieces can also be threaded on skewers, and both grilled and served accordingly. Place some Greek pita brushed with a little olive oil, on the grill, once the chicken is cooked through, and serve with some tzatziki. Place the chicken on a presentation platter and garnish with some fresh thyme, oregano and sliced lemons.

Serve the Chicken Souvlaki and Greek Salad with a large bowl of tzatziki and a basket or warm grilled pita.