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!
- 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
- 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
6 Pita Pockets
2 Roma Tomatoes
1 Red Onion, small
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- 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.
- Form into 2-3-ounce patties -- just a little bigger than golf balls -- and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake the burgers 12-15 minutes, until firm and cooked throughout.
- 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.
- Thinly slice the tomatoes and onions, and cut the pitas in half.
- When the burgers are finished cooking, remove from the oven and let cool a couple minutes.
- 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)