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Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Classic Gyros and Pitas

Gyros and pita sandwiches are common casual foods in the Mediterranean. Just like pizza and other Mediterranean sandwiches, many different versions of pita sandwiches and gyros exist today.

Pitas are round breads with a pouch in the center created by steam. You can cut them in half and fill them with any type of sandwich fixings or use them whole as a wrap.

Gyros, popular in Greece and Cyprus, refer to a specific pita-style sandwich with lamb, chicken, or veal broiled on a vertical spit. The gyro meat is then wrapped in the pita with tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Because most people don’t have a vertical spit lying around, the recipes here show you different ways to cook your gyro meats.

Char-Grilled Pork Loin Pita with Tomatoes and Onions

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time

Cook time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

8 cloves garlic, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 pound pork tenderloin

6 pita pockets or flatbreads

3 Roma or plum tomatoes, diced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

6 lemon wedges

  1. Combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander, and oregano in a bowl and add the pork. Cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour and then remove it from the refrigerator and marinate 15 minutes more.

  2. Heat the grill to medium-high for 10 minutes. Cook the tenderloin for 15 to 20 minutes or until the meat reaches 145 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer.

  3. Remove the meat from the grill, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Slice the meat in 1/2-inch slices.

  4. Heat the pitas or flatbreads on a hot griddle or in a cast-iron skillet for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot.

  5. Fill each sandwich with 2 to 3 ounces of meat and top with the tomatoes, red onion, and crumbled feta. Serve each pita with a lemon wedge to be squeezed over the filling before enjoying.

Per serving: Calories 334 (From Fat 125); Fat 14g (Saturated 4g); Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 424mg; Carbohydrate 29g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 22g.

Roasted Vegetables with Feta Cheese Pita

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large tomato, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

One 14.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 pita pockets or flatbreads

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

  1. In a broiler-safe baking dish, toss together the peppers, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Drizzle with the olive oil and broil 5 to 7 inches from the heating element for 5 to 8 minutes or until slightly blackened.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, garlic, parsley, cumin, and salt. After the veggies are broiled, immediately toss them in the vinaigrette.

  3. Heat the pitas or flatbreads on a hot griddle or in a cast-iron skillet for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot. Fill each sandwich with vegetables and top with 2 tablespoons of feta. Serve immediately.

Per serving: Calories 397 (From Fat 175); Fat 19g (Saturated 5g); Cholesterol 17mg; Sodium 841mg; Carbohydrate 46g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Protein 12g.

Beef Gyros

Prep time: 8 minutes, plus marinating time

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

1 cup red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon, divided

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cardamom

1 tablespoon plus 1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds sirloin steak

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon tahini sauce

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

6 pita pockets or flatbreads

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, half the lemon juice, the allspice, paprika, cardamom, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, and the sea salt. Add the meat to the mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the parsley, onion, tahini, yogurt, and the remaining lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.

  3. Place the meat on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until well done (170 degrees). Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and then slice into 1/2-inch slices against the grain.

  4. Heat the pitas or flatbreads on a hot griddle or in a cast-iron skillet for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot. Evenly divide the meat among the 6 sandwiches and serve with the yogurt sauce.

Per serving: Calories 547 (From Fat 197); Fat 22g (Saturated 8g); Cholesterol 101mg; Sodium 565mg; Carbohydrate 29g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 54g.

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