A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Greek Grilled Chicken Appetizer with Tzatziki & Red Pepper Pesto

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Greek Grilled Chicken Appetizer with Tzatziki & Red Pepper Pesto

I wanted to share a really fun and versatile recipe or series of recipes with you for What's For Dinner Wednesday today.  I made this dish to take to my friend Kerri's place for a relaxed New Year's Eve celebration.  She was making a Mediterranean pasta so I wanted to bring something complimentary and came up with a souvlaki-style chicken appetizer and then spiraled a little out of control.  :)

This may be more of an appetizer than a dinner, but there are enough components here that you could serve this as a fun light dinner.  The grilled chicken and tzatziki is a pretty traditional flavor combination, but I wanted to add a nondairy component and created a roasted red pepper pesto to go along with it.  Rounded out with some raw vegetables, pita chips, and olives this made for a pretty healthy and delicious party appetizer.


For the chicken--
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Cooking spray
Whisk lemon juice and next 8 ingredients in a medium glass or ceramic bowl.  Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. 
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Discard excess marinade and cook chicken pieces in small batches on a grill pan coated with cooking spray until well browned and cooked all the way through, 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve skewered or with toothpicks along with the dipping sauces below.

For the tzatziki--
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and cut in a 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place diced cucumbers in a small strainer or colander over a bowl or in the sink. Toss well with salt and drain for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Pat cucumbers well with paper towel until thoroughly dried and place in a small bowl.  Stir in garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, stir well as the liquid will often separate from the rest of the yogurt when refrigerated.

For the red pepper pesto-- 
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted sunflower kernels
  • 5 roasted red bell peppers
  • 1/2 c. fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 Tbs. fresh oregano
  • Pinch of granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add first 6 ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth and combined.  Stream in olive oil and pulse until pesto reaches desired consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

I made this pesto with sunflower seeds since my husband is allergic to pine nuts and almonds, which you'd usually use in a pesto.  I also didn't include any cheese since our hostess is lactose intolerant, but you could add crumbled feta or grated parmesan to this recipe if you wanted.  You could use this pesto as a dip like I did here, on sandwiches, along with grilled meats, or on pasta.

For serving--
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Red bell pepper strips
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Pitted kalamata olives
  • Pita chips 
  • Cubed feta, peperoncini, hummus, marinated artichoke hearts, grilled shrimp, grilled eggplant cubes *I didn't serve these with mine, but I think they would be a nice addition

Chicken and tzatziki recipes inspired by Serious Eats.

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