Shawarma & Salsa


Shawarma, sauce and salsa. They’re all you need for a complete and completely delicious Mediterranean meal. This famous Middle Eastern street food is basically heavily-marinated beef (or chicken), layered on a vertical rotisserie or spit where it is slow-roasted for days until perfectly tender and super flavorful. To serve it, thin layers of meat are shaved off the spit and piled up into a warm pita pocket with heaps of fresh toppings and a good drizzle of tahini sauce.

Well, I don’t have a spit in my kitchen, do you? But you can still achieve the shawarma experience in a deep skillet or Instant Pot. The tahini sauce is a tasty alternative to traditional tzatziki sauce; it’s also dairy-free.


This chunky salsa only requires your knife. Add a tangy kick with sumac. And the spicy kick with pickled or fresh jalapenos. Use whole wheat pita chips for dipping, or top blanched asparagus with the salsa to stay gluten-free. Enjoy. Any way you eat these, it’s all good.



Beef Shawarma


Serves 8




1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon paprika 

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup white wine vinegar 

1 lemon 

1 ½ pound beef flap steak or flank steak, cut very thinly against the grain into bite size pieces 

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced 

1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced




In the bottom of large mixing bowl, add the shawarma spices. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and zest and juice of one lemon. Using a spoon, mix to combine. 


Using a chef’s knife, cut the flap steak against the grain into thin bite-size slices (no more than ¼-inch in thickness).


Add the sliced meat to the bowl. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and onions. Using a pair of tongs, toss very well to make sure the meat is well-coated with the marinade. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for a few minutes (or, if you have the time, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours). 


Heat a large cast iron grill pan or skillet over high heat. Using a pair of tongs, add the meat pieces, spreading them as much as you are able. Cook over high heat for anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked. (If you like less liquid in your pan and extra char on the meat, you'll likely cook it for about 15 minutes. And if your pan is not large enough, cook the meat in batches). Alternatively, you could use the Instant Pot for 12 minutes.


While the meat is cooking, prepare some pita pockets and fixings such as chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley, or Mediterranean salsa. Make the tahini sauce. Assemble sandwiches or eat everything out of a bowl without pita for a low-carb gluten-free dish. 



Tahini Sauce


Serves 5




1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup tahini paste

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice

¼ cup cold water, more if needed

1 cup fresh chopped parsley leaves, stems removed first (optional)




Add the garlic, tahini paste and juice to the bowl of a food processor and blend (it will be thick as it emulsifies.) Add a little bit of water and blend again until you reach the desired consistency. Transfer the tahini to a serving bowl, and if you like stir in fresh chopped parsley. 



Mediterranean Salsa


Serves 5 or more




12 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 to 2 shallots or red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped fresh mint

6 to 7 pitted kalamata olives, chopped 

1 jalapeno pepper, fresh or pickled, finely chopped 

Kosher salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sumac

3 teaspoons lemon juice

Olive oil 




Place quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped shallots, minced garlic, chopped fresh herbs, chopped kalamata olives, and chopped jalapeno in a mixing bowl. Season with kosher salt, pepper, and sumac). Toss gently.


Add lemon juice and a generous drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine. Set aside for a few minutes to let the flavors marry. Serve with pita chips or chips of your choice. 


-all recipes adapted from