When I was sixteen, I went on a school trip to Europe. The highlight of that trip was our time in Greece. I remember being amazed by the beauty of the white buildings against the backdrop of the impossibly blue sea, by the sandy beaches and the ancient ruins. I also remember my introduction to the cuisine, and how spectacular and tasty the food was. I had never tasted anything like it before: creamy tzatiki drizzled on warm pita bread, alongside the freshest of vegetables. It was the start of a love affair with Greek cuisine that is still torridly alive to this day.
Mediterranean cuisine is among the healthiest in the world — and it is also incredibly delicious. This recipe is modelled after the Greek classic lemon chicken; I just love how the flavours of lemon and garlic work together to meld with crisp, fresh vegetables and chewy, soft pita. One bite of this and you'll be saying "Opa!"
It might just be the start of a love affair for you too.
The coconut milk is chilled in order to separate the liquid from the solid cream. Turn the can upside down, open it, and pour off the liquid (reserve for a smoothie). Scoop out the solid cream and place in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt; allow to sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours. *SHORTCUT* Skip this step and instead use 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt.
Grate the cucumber and set on a paper or absorbent cloth towel. Sprinkle with salt, allow to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze off excess liquid and add the cucumber to the coconut milk mixture.
Stir in the olive oil and garlic. *NOTE* This tzatiki is best if made the day before; the flavours meld together over time. Store in refrigerator until needed.
Greek Lemon Mushroom
Arrange mushroom slices in one layer in a baking pan or casserole dish.
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour over mushroom slices and allow to marinate 1-2 hours.
Saute mushrooms, along with the marinade, in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. *GRILL OPTION* Using a barbeque-safe griddle, cook on the barbeque over medium-high for about 20 minutes.
Arrange cooked mushrooms onto a warm pita, top with sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, and drizzle with the tzatiki sauce. Opa!
Yield: 4 servings