Greek food is one of my favorite cuisines because the ingredients are simple, fresh and you can find a lot of healthy options. I always marinate the meat before I cook it to infuse some flavor; typically with fresh herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Hummus is one of my favorite dips because you can add extra flavors you enjoy like roasted red pepper, garlic, avocado, or just keep it classic. For a light and quick meal, I created Greek style chicken skewers and hummus with a fresh heirloom tomato salad.
When I go grocery shopping every weekend to prepare meals for the week, I like to find ways to plan ahead so that when monday hits, cooking can be nearly effortless. I decided to marinate a few chicken breasts for a few days in olive oil, whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, one whole juiced lemon with the lemon rinds kept in the bag for the lemon oil in the skin, rough chopped garlic and salt and pepper. I place these ingredients in a reclosable bag, and turned the bag over each day to make sure the chicken is evenly marinated. I then sliced the chicken breast into strips and placed them on skewers, poured some marinade from the bag over each skewer and added more salt and pepper. I didn’t have time to grill, so I just broiled the chicken in the oven and I still had tender chicken that was golden brown in color.
Who knew pureed chickpeas aka. garbanzo beans could be so delicious!? I like to add a good amount of lemon juice to keep it bright and fresh with the creamy garbanzo beans and rich toasted sesame paste (tahini). Hummus actually originates from Middle Eastern cuisine and has become a very popular dip featured in Greek restaurants. However, don’t be surprised if you can’t find a lot of hummus in your next trip to Greece! I like to make a little pocket in the hummus for high quality olive oil and then I sprinkle of paprika to garnish the hummus.
Every time we dine at our favorite greek restaurant in Costa Mesa, California (Thasos Greek Island Grille), we are served a fresh salad with crisp romaine, ripe tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, olives, red onions, walnuts, lots of feta and a balsamic vinaigrette. For my salad, I used wild rocket (arugula), baby heirlooms tomatoes from the farmers market (Future Foods Farms, Brea CA), diced red onions, feta and an easy homemade balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette.
This Greek inspired platter was the perfect balance of healthy offerings; a savory herbed chicken, creamy hummus and fresh tomato salad. If you are looking for something light, easy to prepare, and want some island comfort food, give these recipes a try!
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 lemon, halved
- 4 garlic cloves rough chopped
- 4 springs or rosemary
- 6 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper, as needed
- Olive oil, enough to coat the chicken breasts
- Wooden skewers
- 2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked, drained and rinsed if canned
- ⅓ cup roasted sesame paste (tahini)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt, to taste
- Water, as needed
- Olive oil, as needed for serving
- Paprika, as needed
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup tomatoes
- ¼ cup red onion
- 4 basil leaves, chiffonade
- Feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to season
- Marinate the chicken breast in a resealable plastic bag with rosemary, thyme, lemon juice of 1 lemon, lemon rinds, a few pinches of salt and pepper, chopped garlic and enough olive oil to coat the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate at least one day, and turn over the bag to make sure the flavors are infused on both sides.
- Cut each chicken breast into 4 large strips, then place on a skewer. To prevent the skewer from burning too quickly on the grill or in the broiler you can do the following; 1) soak the skewers in water, 2) wrap the ends in foil, 3) place foil down on a small area of the grill and have the skewers lay over the foil, 4) in the oven cover the skewer ends with one large piece foil laid over the skewers and leave the chicken exposed to the broiler.
- To grill, on medium high heat, grill each side for a few minutes until cooked through. To cook in the broiler, place the chicken skewers on a sheet tray lined with foil. Cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side, the closer to the broiler source, the more browning you will achieve on the chicken, however keep a close eye on the chicken because it cooks very quickly.
- Combine garbanzo beans, tahini, ½ cup of the lemon juice, and garlic; puree until smooth. Season with more lemon juice as desired, and salt. If the consistency is too thick, add water.
- Wash the arugula and dry. Cut tomatoes into small chunks. Cut the onions into very small dices ⅛". Chiffonade basil.
- In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon of honey and 4 tablespoons olive until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine tomatoes, onion and basil. Add balsamic dressing to coat the vegetables.
- Add 1 cup of arugula in a small nest on the far side of the plate; top with dressed tomato mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
- Season the chicken skewers with salt and pepper if desired. Place 3-4 chicken skewers in the center of the plate.
- Add at least ¼ cup of the hummus to the other side of the chicken skewers on the plate. Make an indentation in the hummus, add olive oil to fill and sprinkle with paprika.