So I think my nephew knocked a few years off my life the other day. I was siting alone in the kitchen and the biggest bug I’ve seen in a very long time comes crawling into the kitchen and it was making this horrible humming/buzzing sound. Omg, I don’t know why this is, but spiders and snakes don’t bother me much. It’s anything with wings that really freaks me out.
Okay, so it’s crawling around the floor and then it got stuck underneath the pantry door and stays there while I’m attentively watching with terror to see where it goes. After I realized it wasn’t going anywhere I went to request immediate backup from a braver person than me. That’s when my 3-year-old nephew comes running into the room and says “I’ll get it, “Doh-dee!” (I’m “Doh-dee” by the way). So he runs and picks it up before I could stop him and then proceeds to bring it to me, which is the last thing I wanted. That’s not even the best part though, then he shows me that it’s a robotic toy bug. Guys, I know it probably sounds ridiculous to not have realized this, but if you could see how this thing looked in a dimly lit room and hear how it sounds, you’d probably have thought it was real too. Besides, I didn’t know my sister was going around buying awful toys for her son! (#jokingbutnotjoking)
Uh huh, so that happened this week and everyone had a long laugh at silly “Doh-dee” freaking out. Wow, talking about giant bugs is SUCH a great way to introduce a recipe, isn’t it? Sorry, but it was just too funny not to share the moment.
Let me get off the tangent though and tell you about the gyros. I’ve been wanting to make them for ages but it’s one of those things that I always forget to plan for and I rarely have all the ingredients on hand because I can probably count the times I’ve bought lamb on one hand.
Also, marinating or brining meats to make them more tender is something I’m a huge fan of. I sort of learned that growing up, because my dad would always brine meat for at least 24 hours whenever we were planning a grill-out during the Summer. It really can make all the difference. I especially noticed this while we lived in South America because so many of the cuts of meat there are very tough and super challenging to even make them passably chew-able, but a long brine can save the day.
With this marinade it’s also about the flavor. Allowing the meat to sit for at least a few hours in all the herbs and the lemon juice gives you a way better flavor when you cook it. Oh, and if you have space in your fridge to put a pot, that’s how I did this recipe. You combine everything in roasting pan or oven safe pot and let it marinate overnight, then roast it in the same pan and save yourself lots of dishes. You can use a ziplock bag if a pan won’t fit or if it’s Winter, like it is for me right now, just stick it in your garage if it’s cold enough.
This meal is really easy to double if you need to make it for a larger group, and it’s something that can be made ahead to have for lunch or dinner during the week. For dairy allergies you can skip the feta and use coconut yogurt in the ztatziki. Another option, if you allergies to wheat and don’t want to use the pitas. serve this recipe with rice or another grain.
Craving a traditional gyro? Skip going out and make them yourself at home with all your favorite toppings!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 (about 1.5 pound) leg of lamb
- 3 - 4 pitas or naan bread
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 cup green olives
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of 1/2 of 1 lemon
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill
- salt and black pepper to taste
- For the marinade, combine the oil, lemon, garlic, herbs, spices, onion, and bell peppers in a medium roasting pan with lid (*see note) and toss together. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 2 hours, overnight is best if you can.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the roasting pan with lamb in the oven. After about 30 minutes remove from oven and remove the onion and peppers with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl. Turn the meat and roast for an additional 30 minutes. After the full hour of roasting, remove pan from oven and add the peppers/onions and tomatoes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and re-cover pan. Return to oven and cook for 15 - 25 minutes longer until the meat is very tender (it should be nearly falling off the bone. Once done, cool the meat until it's a temperature you can handle, then separate the meat from the bone.
- To assemble the gyros, warm the pitas on a medium skillet over low heat, one at a time. (Alternatively, you can wrap them in a foil packet and place in the hot oven.) Fill each pita with the pepper/onion/tomato mixture and lamb then top with feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with tzatziki sauce.
- Combine all ingredients for ztatziki in a blender or food processor and until nearly smooth. Pour into container with sealable lid and place in fridge to chill until ready to serve.
*If you don't have space in your refrigerator for the pan you can use a freezer size ziplock bag instead for marinating. As for the roasting pan, you can use a traditional one with foil or even what I used, a stainless steel pot with lid.