spicy shawarma chicken pitas

spicy shawarma chicken pitas [ inthiskitchen.com ]

After a nice, sunny vacation home to see family, I’m back on the East Coast, with it’s characteristic winter light (or lack thereof), bare bones trees devoid of their leaves, and wind that makes even slightly cold weather all the more chilly. It’s actually a mild winter (so far – knock on wood – cross your fingers), but I can’t help but miss the green trees and longer days.

It hasn’t been hard to keep busy though, with going back to work full-time and getting to cook a lot at home, while listening to old Rolling Stones tunes or newer ones from Courtney Barnett (who I have fallen in love with!). It has felt good to get back to a routine of sorts – even if a small part of that routine is daydreaming about moving back to the West Coast in the next couple years. For now though, I’m happy, and have returned to the kitchen with a few new fun cooking gadgets and ingredients as well.

Even though I love cooking, as I’m sure most people reading food blogs do, it doesn’t mean always wanting to make complex recipes. This recipe for shawarma-like chicken pita sandwiches can come together with chicken that’s hanging around in your freezer, spices that are probably in your cabinet, and some crunchy veggies and pita. It’s easy, adaptable to all kinds of meats, and I’m sure would be great even on breads other than pita. The flavors of the chicken shawarma spices really shine through, with bright ginger and coriander and warming cumin. The sauce is very simple, a mixture of mostly tahini and plain yogurt, and makes a nutty backdrop for the spiced chicken.

spicy shawarma chicken pitas [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Spicy Shawarma Chicken Pitas
from Cooking Light
Makes 6-8 pita halves (3-4 whole pitas)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
5 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
4 (6-inch) pitas, halved
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup prechopped red onion

In a large bowl, combine the chopped parsley, salt, red pepper, ginger, cumin, and coriander. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and 2 of the minced garlic cloves. Then add in the chicken and stir so that the spice and yogurt mixture completely covers the chicken pieces.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the chicken and let sear on one side until nicely golden brown on the bottom, probably about 5-6 minutes (check as you go and see when the bottom is well cooked). Then flip chicken pieces and make sure they get nicely seared and golden on the other side as well. Cook until chicken is fully cooked through, stirring as needed.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce. Combine the remaining 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of plain yogurt, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining garlic clove, and the tahini. Stir the mixture well.

To serve, spread some yogurt-tahini sauce into each pita half and divide chicken among pita halves. Fill each pita with as much cucumber, tomato, and red onion as desired. Sprinkle with parsley and squeeze a little more lemon juice if desired.

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