Souvlakis (meaning ‘small skewers’) are considered the hamburgers of Greece. Souvlaki shops and stands can be found on nearly every corner of Greece as it is the best-known Greek food. Souvlaki is considered fast food and is served in souvlaki shops called “souvladzidika”,These are small eateries or stands that typically serves gyros and other grilled meat dishes as well. You can buy one to-go and eat on the street or sit in the shop and enjoy it at your leisure. If Greece is not on your itinerary or if your local town does not have a great supply of Greek restaurants, this homemade version is a wonderful alternative. Souvlaki does not necessarily have to be pork. Lamb, chicken, beef, and seafood can also be marinated and used as well. We used steak this time as we had it on hand.
This is a wonderful treat. From the tangy and creamy tzatziki to the freshness of the dill and mint, this meal is perfect as the days are getting longer and grilling season is sneaking up on us! Don’t let the dried mint in the marinade throw you off, the dried herb in this case provides a great impact of flavor.
3 sweet (bell) peppers
8 flatbreads, to serve
4 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
medium bunch of fresh dill, chopped (stalks and all)
red wine vinegar
Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, to serve
1 ½ lbs leg of pork (or beef), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tbs dried mint
1 tbs dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c good-quality olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated
1 tbs red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
½ lg cucumber
1 c natural yogurt
1 small clove of garlic, peeled
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp red wine vinegar
If using wooden skewers, soak them in a tray of water so they won’t burn on the grill. Put all the kebab ingredients into a bowl and mix everything together really well. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. The longer the meat marinades, the better the flavors will meld into the meat.
Meanwhile, blacken the peppers directly over the flame on your stove or under a broiler. Turn them every so often and when they look charred and almost burnt, place them into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam for 15 minutes. Once they are cool to touch, peel and deseed your blackened peppers, then tear them into strips and put them into a bowl. Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the roughly chopped dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Cut your lemon into wedges.
Make your tzatziki by coarsely grating the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt, then squeeze out as much water as you can, using your hands. Put the squeezed cucumber in a bowl and add the yogurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste, and add it to the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The tzatziki can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Again, the longer it sits, the better the flavors will be.
Preheat the grill on a high heat. Thread the skewers through the marinated steak pieces, leaving little spaces between them so that the heat cooks everything evenly. Cook the skewers on grill for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides. Warm your flatbreads in the oven or in a hot dry pan while your skewers are cooking. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for a couple of minutes.
Put a dollop of tzatziki and the meat from one skewer on each warmed flatbread. Top with some of your pepper mixture, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice.