Two More Mediterranean Mains

How did you like that spaghetti squash mac and cheese? I ate on it for a few days, and each time, I was stunned at how “clean” I felt, despite the dairy content. Pasta just weighs me down. This week, we continue with our tasty Mediterranean fare. Two more classics for you, prepared easily in your kitchen.

Gyros and minestrone, classics. There is still a chill in the air, so don’t write off hearty soups just yet. The gyros (pronounced YEE-row) feature healthy chicken breast instead of the traditional pork/beef/lamb mixture turned on a vertical spit. Try using whole wheat pita instead of white. And the minestrone takes a delicious turn with Italian sausage, chickpeas, and artichoke hearts.


They are both pretty involved, with several steps. But hang in there, it’s worth it! And both recipes get better each day as flavors get locked in. 


Chicken Gyros


Serves 6





2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to 1/2" thickness

1/3 cup olive oil

6 garlic cloves minced

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon each cumin, dried basil, onion powder, sugar, salt

1/2 teaspoon each pepper, paprika



4-6 flatbreads/pitas

3 Roma tomatoes sliced

1/2 cucumber peeled, sliced, halved

1/4 red onion thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

feta to taste

Tzatziki Sauce (one large cucumber, grated and squeezed dry, cup Greek yogurt, juice of half a lemon, 3 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper)




Whisk together all of the Greek Marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl or large freezer bag and add chicken. Marinate 4-8 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove chicken from fridge and let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes before cooking.



Prepare Tzatziki sauce while the chicken marinates. Tzatziki is best made in advance and allowed to chill at least one hour in the refrigerator.



Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, drain chicken from marinade, pat dry and add to skillet (work in batches if needed).

Cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 4-6 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.



Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.

Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.) Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.



Top pitas with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, chicken and tzatziki sauce.


-adapted from Carlsbad Cravings



Italian Sausage Minestrone


Serves 6




1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed

Olive oil or vegetable oil

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

8 ounces French green beans, trimmed and cut

12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt & pepper (small dash to taste)

6 cups low-sodium beef broth

½ cup small pasta such as elbow macaroni

1 15-ounce can chickpeas

1 cup chopped parsley leaves

7 large fresh basil leaves, torn

¼ cup grated Parmesan




Spray a non-stick pan with very little oil. Heat the pan on medium-high and brown the sausage until it is fully cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of oil and saute the chopped onion and celery for a brief 2-3 minutes or so. Now toss in the chopped garlic; saute for a few more seconds then add the green beans, artichoke hearts, canned tomatoes, dried oregano and a small dash of salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. 


Now add the cooked sausage and broth; stir to combine. Continue to cook on medium-high heat for another 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low; cover and let simmer for another 15 minutes.


Uncover to add the pasta, chickpeas, and parsley. Raise the heat back to high and cook uncovered for another 8-9 minutes (pasta should cook to al dente).

Remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil.


Transfer to serving bowls and garnish each with a little Parmesan!