Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

I've made a couple entree salads this month (such as Barbecue Chicken and Grape Salad), and couldn't resist making another.  This salad riffs off the flavors of Greek souvlaki; technically, souvlaki refers to the "little skewers" on which meat is grilled, so in that sense, this salad doesn't deserve the name at all.  But souvlaki meat is then typically served in a pita with the Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce called tzatziki, and this salad captures that flavor and essence - with vegan equivalents, of course.  Enjoy!

  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed cucumber
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled vegan feta (such as Sunergia)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peeled and grated cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Combine 1 teaspoon of the bottled minced garlic with the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add the Gardein chicken; seal and shake to coat.

2. Remove the chicken from the bag and grill for 5 minutes on each side, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

Note: this was another great occasion for me to use my Griddler counter-top grill, which lets me pretend I live in a home with a backyard instead of a New York City apartment.  Use a real grill, of course, if you prefer, or you can also broil the chicken in the oven for the same amount of time.

3. Core the tomatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces.  Combine the tomatoes in a large bowl with the chopped chicken, remaining 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic, 3 cups cubed cucumber, red onion, feta, and kalamata olives.  Set aside.

4. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, 1/4 cup grated cucumber, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken mixture and toss well.

To continue with the Greek theme of the evening, I served the salad with simple Greek pita wedges: cut 2 (6-inch) pitas into 6 wedges each.  Arrange the pita wedges on a baking sheet.  Coat with olive oil-flavored cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes, until golden and crisp. 

*My note on the tomatoes tonight is the same as for my Tuscan Panzanella - despite the multi-colored heirloom tomatoes all around this time of year, your best bet for this salad are plump, red, ripe tomatoes.  Aim for the 2 tomatoes to be about 1 pound total.  You can easily core them by cutting the tomatoes into quarters, and then slicing the core out of each quarter before chopping.

For a fun dessert to end the evening, I served vanilla non-dairy ice cream (my favorite is the plain vanilla from Soy Delicious), topped with an amazing new find - Suzanne's Just Like Honey rice nectar.  An even closer substitute for honey than agave nectar, this was a delicious discovery.  Drizzle it over the vegan vanilla of your choice, and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (2 cups), Calories 259

Tasting Notes:
This salad was divine - Zeus or Athena, take your pick.  Wonderfully creamy dressing, and bursting with flavor from the feta, kalamata olives, ripe tomatoes, and yummy chicken.  There was just a touch too much red pepper heat in the dressing for my taste when eating the salad alone, but once scooped up on a pita wedge, the balance was perfect.  


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