Gyros, are arguably my absolute favorite food in the world! I say arguable… because me, myself and I have not completely decided on a single favorite food since there are so many delicious choices. My parents introduced me to this delicious Greek street sandwich and despite their high standards for an “authentic” gyro I have only had a few that I didn’t love. There’s just something about that spiced meat flavor mixed with the cool tzatziki sauce (cucumber sauce). In the U.S. gyro meat is typically lamb or a combination of lamb and beef. Surprisingly (or maybe its not a surprise) the gyros (truly authentic) served in Greece are most commonly pork or chicken although some places may use beef or lamb. I visited Athens and the island of Santorini this past summer. My friends and I were told by multiple street vendors that all gyros are made with pork and advertisements for “lamb gyros” were false, meant only to attract American tourists. Another surprise from Athens, was the addition of fried potatoes (basically french fries) to most of their gyros sandwiches. I was extremely disappointed that my idea of a gyro was a bit off base, but the Grecian versions were equally delicious. I am now happy to say that I love American gyros and Greek gyros equally. The best one I had in Athens actually didn’t even have the tzatziki sauce! It was a small hole in the wall (literally) joint owned by an old man who did all the cooking. He makes this incredible spicy tomato based sauce from scratch every day. It was a perfect complement to pork, onions and tomatos (and french fries of course). Since I’m back in American, I decided to follow a recipe for lamb version. The flavor wasn’t exactly the same, I think the recipe is missing some key spices for the meat, but it was really good. Also, a healthier alternative as gyro meat is typically higher fat to keep it moist while its roasting. These sandwiches are like the New York City hot dogs of Greece.
Here’s the recipe, I fried the meatballs in a skillet instead of grilling so it works either way. (I imagine grilling would be healthier from not using oil to cook)
Weight Watchers Light and Easy Cookbook
Lamb Meatball Pitas
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 Pita rounds (6″)
1. Prepare Cucumber Raita, allowing at least one hour for sauce to chill
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill at least 1 hour.
2. Combine lamb, parsley, breadcrumbs, mint, horseradish, mustard, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic, and egg whites in a medium bowl; shape mixture into 12 small meatballs.
3. Place meatballs in a grill basket coated with cooking spray; place grill basket on rack over medium-hot coals (350-400) and grill, covered, 4 minutes on each side or until meatballs are done
4. Place 3 meatballs on each pita round, and top each serving with 1/4 cup Cucumber Raita. Garnish each serving with fresh mint if desired.
NUTRITION: 378 calories, 39.2g carbohydrate, 8.8g fat, 6.4g fiber, 30.8g protein, 75mg cholesterol, 272mg sodium, 132mg calcium, 5.3mg iron.
NOTES: I fried the meatballs in a skillet in peanut oil until they looked done. I used a store bought tzatziki sauce (since we already had it on hand) and we added chopped tomatoes and onions to our pitas. No french fries this time, but you’re welcome to try that sometime :).