The topic of conversation in DC is still the shutdown. Why is the government still shut down? When will people be able to go back to work? When will “nonessential” services be available again? I could talk about it for hours and still not have answers, but what I do have is a delicious, cost-effective dinner that just might make some of your shutdown blues disappear…if only for a little while!
One of my favorite quick-dinner restaurants in DC is Zorba’s in Dupont. Never been there? Go. Go now. Order anything. You will LOVE it. My favorite is the lamb gyro sandwich – perfect combination of tasty meat, tzatziki, and a warm, soft pita bread. I had some pitas of my own leftover from lunches this week, and a little birdie suggested I make greek pita sandwiches for dinner. And voila. The Shutdown Special was born.
I’m trying to incorporate more veggies than ever before into my diet, which is why this sandwich is not only topped with arugula and tomatoes, but is served alongside roasted butternut squash and broccoli. Have you ever roasted broccoli before? I hadn’t until this meal. But it. is. amazing. I don’t think I’ll cook broccoli any other way now! Roasting broccoli brings out the nuttiness, and the crispy bits just melt in your mouth. Seriously, make this dinner. NOW!
Chicken Souvlaki Sandwich
1 lb chicken breasts or cutlets. If whole breasts, cut in half so they are half as thick.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 single-serving container plain greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
arugula, or whatever lettuce you prefer
cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small shallot, finely sliced
6 large pitas, warmed in the microwave with a wet paper towel
6 squares of tin foil, just a bit larger than the pitas laid flat
In a wide tupperware, stir together the zest and juice of one lemon, minced garlic, 2-4 tablespoons dried oregano (I didn’t measure; you don’t have to either!), a pinch each of salt and pepper, and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Place the chicken in the tupperware, coat with the mixture, and let marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes, but ideally overnight.
Prior to cooking the chicken, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. In two batches, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the outside is carmelized and golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes, then cut in to bite-size chunks.
To prepare the tzatziki, stir together in a bowl the greek yogurt, cucumber, juice of half a lemon, about 2 teaspoons dried dill (to your taste), and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated if you’re not using immediately.
To assemble the sandwiches, place a warmed pita on a square of tin foil. Top with diced chicken, arugula, tzatziki, tomatoes, shallots, and feta. Fold the sides of the pita up, and using the foil, wrap the sandwich into a roll. To serve, tear one end of the tin foil partially off.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1″ pieces (or buy it pre-diced)
2 heads broccoli, florets cut into 1″-2′”pieces
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425. Meanwhile, on a large baking sheet (or two), toss the butternut squash in a light coating of olive oil, a healthy pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Let your spicy tolerance dictate the amount of red pepper flakes, or omit them completely if you can’t stand spice. Be sure that the squash is in a single layer on each baking sheet. You’ll need more room for the broccoli, eventually.
Once the oven is preheated, roast the butternut squash for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the broccoli and a little more olive oil (if necessary) and toss. Try to flip each piece of squash so it cooks evenly.
Roast the vegetables for another 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is showing golden brown bits and the butternut squash is cooked through. Serve immediately.