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Lamb Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

December 3, 2009

It probably would not surprise you to learn that SoupAddict has food obsessions (and it shouldn’t. I mean, really, you didn’t even suspect?). And when I say “obsessions,” I mean that something has gone way beyond mere cravings. I love chocolate. I crave chocolate. But, I can think about chocolate without setting my nerve endings on fire. There are some foods, however, whose mere visual image triggers a junkie’s reaction. As in, SoupAddict must have this now or swoon indelicately to the floor.

Mulligatawny soup does that to SoupAddict. As does Chicken Tikka Masala. But one of her fiercest obsessions is tzatziki sauce (or “tsatsiki,” depending on how stubborn you are about your “z’s.” SoupAddict is stubborn, so she goes with the z’s). In fact, SoupAddict is in quite the pretty pickle right now, because it’s after midnight, there is no tzatziki in the house (she used the last of the weekend’s batch on her Burrito Bowl dinner from Chipotle), and she has that visual image burning in her brain. There’s nothing to do for it but try to write it out of her system and hope her central nervous system settles down so she can get some sleep.

This creamy Greek-inspired concoction is wickedly delicious. It goes with everything. Don’t like lamb for your gyros? That’s cool. Use chicken. Or steak. Tzatziki is flexible. (It told SoupAddict so, when she was reaching for the low-fat sour cream to top her pseudo-Mexican Burrito Bowl. “Try me with salsa … I’m irrrrresistable.” And so it was.

The recipe as written makes a lot of sauce, so your tzatziki can do double-duty as both a sauce and a dip. Try it with toasted pita wedges. But don’t blame SoupAddict if you come down with the shakes the next day at the memory of the meal. You were warned.

SoupAddict loves the Greek yogurt. So rich and creamy, with the perfect hint of tang.
SoupAddict recommends seeding your cucumber. The secret sauce in the sauce is getting out the excess cucumber moisture: as lovely as the seeds are, the membranes surrounding them just contain too much liquid. Use a spoon to scrape out whatever easily scrapes out (don’t get too excited and dig).
Grate your cucumbers on a box grater, or toss them in the food processor for a few pulses. SoupAddict loves da action photos and was hoping to catch a glimpse of the whirring blades, but, they’ve covered themselves in cucumber goodness. Can you blame them?
Out, moisture, out! You can squeeze the livin’ bejeezus out of the cukes in several layers of paper towels, or, put them in a strainer and smoosh smoosh smoosh until the liquid stops dripping. You can also lightly salt the grates and leave them set in a bowl for about 30 minutes. This really extracts the moisture, but, honestly, SoupAddict has enough trouble waiting through the refrigeration process. This extra delay is just plain mean.
Mmmm, garlic. SoupAddict loves garlic. In fact, she has 76 garlic cloves planted and overwintering in her gardens right now, hoping to produce 76 huge garlic heads next summer. There’s nothing like home-grown garlic.
And the dill. Oh, how SoupAddict loves mid-summer fresh dill. Her dill garden is long gone, but, any dill in a storm, right? (Even if it comes in a plastic box from the big box grocer.) For you dill lovers, your eyes are going to roll up into their sockets when you sample the dill flavor in this sauce. Just don’t let your mother see you do that because, you know, they might stay that way.
Cukes and all of the seasonings are in—a few squeezes of fresh lemon seals the deal. Although, now SoupAddict has to stop and dig out the 3 lemon seeds that plopped into the mixture. [Drat!] Further delay of her gratification. When it comes to this sauce, seconds count.
Ooohhhhhh. Tzatziki sauce. I’ve got the shakes again just looking at this picture.
Now on to the gyros. And the rosemary. There’s a reason that every other Aveda product has a rosemary scent. You know what I’m talkin’ about. SoupAddict has multiple rosemary gardens, and loves each and every one of them, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they will survive through the 2nd or 3rd hard winter frost (sometimes well into January), and also that they will usually survive a transplant to a pot for overwintering—and yummy cooking goodness—indoors.
Chop up the rosemary and add it to the yogurt marinade. Rosemary is such a lovely complement to lamb. SoupAddict cannot recommend it highly enough.
Add the lamb strips to the sauce and very lightly salt and pepper the lamb before stirring it in fully. After mixing, you can cover and store the marinated lamb in the fridge overnight, making it a fantastic meal for a party: prepare the tzatziki sauce and gyro meat the day before. The meat only takes 10 to 15 minutes under the broiler, and from there, it’s just you and your peeps stuffin’ the pita pockets, spooning tzatziki crack on top, and shoving it all into your maws.
Juicy, tender, marinated lamb strips. So delicious and rosemary-ey.
Gyro condiments can be as simple as lettuce, red onions and tomatoes. Really, the stars of the show are the rosemary lamb and the tzatziki. K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple, SoupAddict, is SoupAddict’s philosophy.
Oohhhhhh. Just look at that. SoupAddict is glad that this post is nearly over, not only because she can stop looking at these tortuous pictures (especially this one of her hand seemingly raising the gyro to her lips), but also because “tzatziki” is so damn hard to type.
Tzatziki Sauce
Ina Garten, Food Network
  2 (7-ounce) containers Greek yogurt
  1 hothouse or English cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
  1/4 cup sour cream
  2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
  1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Grate the cucumber on a box grater and squeeze the grated cucumber with your hand to remove some of the liquid. Add it to the yogurt along with the sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir.

SoupAddict’s note: This makes a lot of sauce, enough for a party. I usually use only 1 small container of Greek yogurt, but keep the remaining ingredient amounts more or less the same (except for the salt and garlic — cut those in half). I like love am googley-eyed over the flavors in this sauce. Also, feel free to substitute low fat sour cream and Greek yogurt (a variety should be readily available now — check the organic dairy section of your grocer if you can’t find it in the regular yogurt aisle). Pair the lower-fat sauce with whole-wheat pitas, and you’ve got yourself a pretty healthy meal.

Gyros with Rosemary Lamb
  1 (7-ounce) container plain or Greek yogurt (regular or lowfat)
  2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  3 Tablespoons fresh whole rosemary leaves, crushed and chopped
  1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more for seasoning the meat)
  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more for seasoning the meat)
  2 pounds top round lamb
  1 head romaine lettuce
  1 red onion, finely chopped
  1 cup diced tomatoes, optional (in the winter non-growing season, try grape tomatoes sliced into quarters or eighths)
  4   pita breads, sliced in half (to make two pockets)

Season the lamb lightly with salt and pepper; set aside. Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl. Add the lamb, making sure it is covered with the marinade. You don’t need to let it set, but you certainly can: cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. The yogurt marinade is as much for protection under the broiler as it is for flavor.

Spread the marinated lamb in a single layer on a foil-covered broiler pan. Place under a broiler set to High. Cook until small brown spots begin to appear in the yogurt-covered slices. Remove from oven and flip the pieces over as best you can. Sometimes just stirring is pretty effective. Return to pan broiler and continue cooking until the marinade has somewhat disappeared and the lamb strips have browned.

Assemble the gyro by adding lettuce, onions and tomatoes to the pita pocket. Spoon in lamb strips. Top with tzatziki sauce. Lots of tzatziki sauce. Try not to shove the entire thing in your mouth at once; it’s bad form.

  1. December 4, 2009 1:33 pm

    Can I come over and eat????

    • SoupAddict permalink
      December 4, 2009 11:04 pm


  2. December 9, 2009 9:57 pm

    I had my first Lamb Gyro in NYC (Manhattan, Times Square. One of those Halal Carts). And it was FANTASTIC!! My wife, whose almost a vegetarian, took one bite and wouldn’t let me have it back!! I can’t wait to try this!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      December 13, 2009 11:02 am

      It’s one of those foods that you can eat until it’s too late to realize that you’re overstuffed beyond gluttony. Not that SoupAddict does that. No, sir.

  3. sherry permalink
    October 19, 2010 7:04 pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe, we love gyros; If you have the recipe for the real greek flat bread, let me know. Maybe nanbread would work with this; It’s easy to make and it also has yogurt in it; I fry the flat bread in olive oil; Never tried it as a gyro bread, but very much the same consistency and texture. You do have great recipes. 🙂

  4. julie permalink
    March 22, 2011 1:45 pm

    MY CRAVING HAS BEGUN!! We have on local spot here that sells gyros through the drive through.. I might stop on the way to pick the kids up from school!!

    I am making the sauce this week to put over pasta for a Boy Scouts banquet!!

    Thank you for sharing!!

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