“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.”
― Leif Enger, “Peace Like a River”
As burnished autumn beckons to us from stands of fiery maples and golden aspens, we enter a new realm of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Whether you shop at the farmers market or grocers, there is a plethora of pumpkins for pies and cooking, plentiful varieties of squash for stuffing and roasting, and a bounty of apples to turn into sauces or smother with caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt.
However, on the Waldo homestead, we are still enjoying our summer produce. Especially tomatoes, cucumbers, and kale. Our hoop house protects our garden when the weather starts to cool and it extends our growing season.
This year I have had a bumper crop of cucumbers, and after making several batches of dill pickles and selling an abundance at the Skandia Farmers Market, I have been coming up with different ways to eat cucumbers. One of my favorite ways to enjoy their refreshing flavor is in a homemade Mediterranean tzatziki sauce. While I enjoy using it as a dip for vegetables and in a sandwich wrap, I thought I would try my hand at a marinated beef gyro. When I posted a photo on my personal social media account of my food experiment, several friends asked me for the recipe. A couple mentioned that they loved the flavors of a gyro, but felt an aversion to eating lamb. If you do not eat beef, you could use chicken and if you do not eat meat you could substitute large portabella mushrooms or eggplant. If you are watching your intake of bread, you can leave off the pita and turn it into a gyro salad.
Before sharing this recipe with you, I tried making it a couple of times. The first time I purchased a beef roast that was on sale. I thought that the marinade would tenderize the meat, however, since it is seared quickly (and not slow cooked) it was rather tough. The second time I made it I purchased sirloin steak and the final result was juicy and tender. Therefore, I highly recommend purchasing a high quality cut of meat for this recipe.
What is nice about this recipe is that you can start the meal prep a couple of days in advance. I marinated the meat for 2 days and made the tzatziki sauce the day before since it tastes better after all the flavors can marry.
BEEF GYROS WITH CUCUMBER TZATZIKI SAUCE
This recipe is for 2 pounds of sirloin steak – increase the amounts of ingredients based on how many pounds you are using.
Gyro Meat & Marinade
*2 pounds of sirloin steak sliced thinly
*¼ cup of finely chopped onion
*3 finely minced garlic cloves
*1 Tablespoon of dijon mustard
*¼ cup of olive oil
*3 Tablespoons of oregano (I used 2 Tablespoons dried and several sprigs of fres
*Juice and zest of 2 lemons (reserve a Tablespoon of lemon juice for the tzatziki)
*Tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
*1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper
*2 small (or 1 large) finely chopped cucumbers (Since the cucumbers were from my garden I did not peel. When I use a large cucumber I use a spoon to remove the seeds)
*12 ounce container of sour cream (you can substitute plain Greek yogurt.)
*1/4 cup of fresh chopped dill (could substitute a couple teaspoons of dried)
*1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
*1 clove of finely minced garlic
*1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
*1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional – if you have access to fresh mint, a little bit of chopped mint gives the sauce an extra fresh flavor profile.
*Pita bread or pita pockets (can be found in many deli sections or in the bread aisle)
*Grape of cherry tomatoes cut in ½
*Several leaves of spinach, lettuce, or kale
*Optional – feta cheese and kalamata olives
I used a gallon sized ziplock bag to marinate the meat, however, a bowl with a tight cover works as well. Mix all the gyro ingredients together and marinate for up to two days. Turn the bag or rotate the bowl a couple of times a day.
Combine all the tzatziki ingredients.
I used a cast iron pan to sear the meat and warmed up the pita bread in the oven for a couple of minutes. Serve the meat hot on the pita bread and add the tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and greens. You can also add a sprinkle of feta cheese and a few Greek olives.
I hope you enjoy how all the fresh flavors come together in this dish. It is going to be a new staple in our household.
As the weather grows colder, make sure you check out the healthy recipes under the top of this page. Give your immune system a boost by reaching for whole and wholesome foods. With a little creativity and a labor of love in the kitchen, healthy food does not have to be boring. Take care of yourself and eat your vegetables!