Cooking with Caitlin: Try combining tzatziki and mushrooms for a summer twist on the classic gyro

CINCINNATI - WCPO is pleased to bring you food blogger Caitlin MacEachen Steininger, of Cooking with Caitlin,  as a contributor. She has been tickling the food fancy of her family and friends since third grade. Check back next Monday for a new recipe!

I collect cucumbers from every market stand and am always looking for ways to play with the rest of the flavors. I start with the template below and go from there; slow-roasted garlic, parsley, green onions, chives, and caramelized, raw, and pickled red onions or shallots are easy and delicious additions or substitutions.

Almost every day of the week, then, I use my homemade tzatziki as the (sometimes secret) finishing touch to a variety of meals. It is the ultimate accompaniment to buffalo-flavored anything, and makes for a simple dip with crunchy crudité and toasted pita chips.

Tzatziki melts beautifully into a pound of hot orzo, ditalini, or penne that becomes a full-fledged pasta salad with handfuls of cubed cucumber and quartered cherry tomatoes thrown in as well. Tossed with boiled potatoes, or into a bowl of seasoned and grilled hunks of eggplant, zucchini, and squash, it is an easy roasted salad. And a drizzle over a spread of thickly sliced tomatoes and leafy greens is downright divine.

My favorite canvas for a schmear of tzatziki, however, taps into its very roots with a unique spin on a classic gyro sandwich. Below, I swap mushrooms for the beef traditionally used in gyros, and bake them into small burgers for extra juicy, and especially nutritious results. Stuffed into a pita with fresh tomatoes and onion, the superfresh experience is completed with a healthy spoonful of tzatziki.

Enjoy, my fresh-seeking friends!

Gyro Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Ground Lamb
  • 12 oz. (approximately 4 tops) Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt

Homemade Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Cucumber, medium
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Dill

 

Assemble:

6 Pita Pockets
2 Roma Tomatoes
1 Red Onion, small

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Finely dice your mushrooms; combine in a mixing bowl with the ground lamb, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Mix together until evenly combined.
  3. Form into 2-3-ounce patties -- just a little bigger than golf balls -- and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake the burgers 12-15 minutes, until firm and cooked throughout.
  5. While the burgers are cooking, make the tzatziki: Halve and remove the seeds of the cucumber; grate with a box grater or by feeding through a food processor. Stir together all of the ingredients and refrigerate until assembly.
  6. Thinly slice the tomatoes and onions, and cut the pitas in half.
  7. When the burgers are finished cooking, remove from the oven and let cool a couple minutes.
  8. Just before service, place 2 burgers in each pita half, a slice of tomato, a few slices of onion, and a spoonful of tzatziki sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:
Save time by finely chopping the mushrooms in a food processor. Make the burger patties ahead and bake them just before service. Stir together the tzatziki up to 2 days in advance.

I use portabella mushrooms because I love their naturally meaty flavor, but you can substitute whatever mushroom you have on hand or prefer to eat.

Prep Time: 10-20 Minutes Cook Time: 12-15 Minutes Yields: 12 Portions

(Photos by Cara Hummel Photography)

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