This is a pretty easy meal to make at home, especially as I did here using pre-marinated Burgundy & Pepper Lamb Tips from Trader Joe’s. These tips are pre-packaged and sold by weight, for 4 generous servings (8 medium-sized gyros) I chose the least expensive package at about $12.

First, prepare the tzatziki sauce consisting of Greek style plain yogurt (e.g., Trader Joe’s), peeled cucumber – cut into small pieces, minced garlic, lots of dill (fresh and/or dried), black pepper, and a bit of apple cider vinegar or other vinegar if you like a bit more sharp flavor.
Tzatziki is great for other dishes and sandwiches, so just put the left-over portion back in the yogurt container and keep even up to a week or more.

Trim the lamb tips to remove any fat and sinew, cut the pieces across the grain to bite or two-bite size and sauté the pieces in a bit of oil until cooked to just nearly medium well.

Warm pita in a pan until they just begin to brown, both sides (brush pita first with olive oil if the pita doesn’t contain oil, such as those from Trader Joe’s), and serve topped with lamb, slather on the tzatziki sauce, and add thinly sliced red onion, fresh tomato.

Olive Baked Chicken

Olive Baked Chicken

I prepared the chicken based on a dish I recall from years ago at a local mediterranean restaurant: I chopped kalamata and green olives, mixed them with thyme, tarragon, and garlic… then pushed the mixture under the skin of the pieces of a whole chicken. I drizzled the chicken pieces with olive oil, and spiced with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and baked it in a greased pan, with pieces separated, for about an hour at 360°F. Nice!

Served with sautéed green swiss chard, and garlic mashed red potatoes.

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

This is a simple, colorful vegetarian baked pasta dish that I make often.

Prepare fresh or dried rigatoni as usual. While it’s boiling, sauté coarsely chopped red onion and green pepper in olive oil until they become slightly tender; season with oregano and black pepper then add quartered fresh mushrooms and continue until mushrooms are lightly sautéed. Drain pasta and pour into a baking dish or pan (e.g., 9″x14″ for 4 servings, so that it forms a shallow layer) greased lightly with olive oil. Mix sautéed vegetables and one can drained diced, stewed tomatoes into pasta. (Many other roasted or sauteed vegetables, olives, and toasted pine nuts are nice additions.) Lightly top with grated Pecorino Romano or other aged Italian cheese, sprinkle with oregano, generously with fennel seed, thinly sliced garlic from a couple cloves, and salt and pepper as you like. Bake 15-20 minutes at 425°F – until the garlic slices on top just begin to brown.

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

Serve with garlic toast. Here I also added a few pieces of fresh mozzarella ciliegine (e.g., Trader Joe’s) per serving after baking, so that it doesn’t melt.

Toasted Italian Bread with Fresh Basil Pesto


Toasted Italian Bread with Fresh Basil Pesto

Something simple: yup, *toast* – haute cuisine, indeed.

Instead of me describing how I made a pesto, you can just watch this beautiful Italian make it instead:
(We only disagree in that I’d rather use “too much” garlic…
Oh, and she made this in 5 minutes and it took me half an hour. :-)

Hmm, can I count the mortar and pestle effort as my second workout today?

Thyme & Anise Farfalle

Thyme & Anise Farfalle

When you have thyme but not much time, try this simple pasta dish with two of my favorite flavors. If you don’t like anise (a licorice-like flavor), omit the liquor.

Prepare farfalle or any pasta. When pasta has just a few minutes left, lightly saute sliced sweet plum tomatoes and sliced green olives in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, with fresh garlic, fresh thyme, oregano, and black pepper. Add a splash (i.e., just a fraction of a teaspoon) of an anise-flavored liquor such as Pastis (French, that I had on hand), Ouzo (Greek), or Sambuca (Italian). When the pasta is done, add diced fresh mozzarella to saute so that it just begins to melt and the garlic and herbs cling to it. Drain pasta and serve topped with the oil and sauteed ingredients.

Pita Pizza

Pita Pizzas

I’m temporarily drinking fake (non-alcoholic) beer, so perhaps some ersatz pizzas are in order!  These two were prepared in a toaster oven on pita bread brushed with olive oil:

  • BBQ sauce, garlic, swiss and Gruyère cheeses, applewood smoked bacon, white button mushroom, red onion, and jalapeno.
  • Kyopoolu (sauce), swiss and Gruyère, bacon, mushrooms, red onion, oregano, and fennel seed.
Which was better?  Hmm, both were awesome, it’s a tie.
An aside: I find Clausthaler Golden Amber and O’Doul’s Amber to be the most palatable of non-alcholic beers that are widely available in the states.

Mediterranean Beef with Hummus

Meditterranean Beef with Hummus

ingredients: beef, e.g., lean ground, top sirloin (shown here), or top round sliced against grain (if possible), hummus, slivered almonds, garlic, oregano, paprika, tomatoes [, green and kalamata olives, onion, pepper.] sauce: goat’s milk or greek style yogurt, cucumber, dill, minced garlic [, vinegar]. directions: prepare yogurt sauce a day in advance if possible (quartered and sliced cucumber, peeled if you wish). sauté beef with garlic, spicy or smoked paprika, black pepper, hot sauce, e.g., Cholula [, add sliced green olives, serano peppers]; serve over warm hummus, top with toasted slivered almonds, garnish with tomatoes and/or kalamata olives, yogurt sauce and warm pita bread on the side; enjoy.

(This is also great made with lamb; that’s the dish that inspired it from a local restaurant.)