Monday, September 2, 2013

Greek Tacos & Tahini Pesto

I hope you all had a great labor day weekend!  One of the highlights of the past few weeks was scrounging together a recipe that turned out to be really tasty - Greek tacos with tahini pesto.  I know it's silly, but it's the little things that can make a big difference :)

On this particular day, I think life was starting to get to me and affect my mental state.  The day started with Kora (my elderly dog) having a not-so-little "accident" all over the living room 5 minutes before I was supposed to leave for work.  Not her fault, and I love her to pieces, so I cleaned it up and moved on.  When I was walking into my elevator to head to work, I felt an itch in my shirt.  Out flew a moth (GROSS!), which left me feeling itchy and icky all day long.  Which resulted in me spilling some of my breakfast on myself when I got to work.  Fast forward through a pretty rough day of "ugh's" "oh crap's" and discouraging emails, I am finally in the kitchen ready to make this thing that I wasn't totally sure about.  All I knew was that if my senses were correct, it would probably taste pretty darn good.

Your basic pesto is made of some kind of herb, some kind of cheese, some kind of nut, and small amounts of garlic, lemon juice, and not-so-small amounts of some kind of oil - usually olive oil.  I had everything but the nuts.  For the herbs, I pretty much killed what was an already ill basil plant by using all of its remaining leaves.  Tahini was the only thing we had that came to mind to sub for nuts because it is kind of peanut buttery.  It is also kind of a stretch for pesto, but I went for it anyway.  It was a brand spanking new jar so when I struggled to open it (and finally succeeded, ah-HA!) the top layer of oil flew all over.  Right on schedule for that day.

Up until now I was still thinking this would be a "pasta pesto" but when I tasted it I knew I had to think of something else.  The tahini was the abundant flavor, rather than the basil, and I started to think Greek, hummus-like spreads.  I could picture it more on a sandwich-Gyro-type-thing rather than mixed in with any type of noodle.

So, looking at my other dying herb plants (I blame my lack of a green thumb on the fact that I have only been able to garden in pots and on patios, and not at all on the fact that I have gotten really bored with watering lately) I thought of one of my favorite marinades which just so happens to be a Greek one.  This used up some of my dying rosemary and parsley.  Win-win.  Rummaging through the fridge resulted in finding corn tortillas, 1/2 of a yellow squash donated by a co-worker (thanks Ivy!), a bell pepper and some goat cheese.  We usually have some kind of meat in the freezer, so I thawed some chicken.  Boom.  Greek Tacos.

This was definitely a "clean out the fridge" sort of meal, but it was probably the best of the sort that I have ever made.  We ended the night with full, happy bellies; major garlic breath (you have been warned); and a couple of beers under our belts.  All was good by the end of the day.

Tahini Pesto
3tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4c olive oil
3/4c basil leaves
2tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic (you could go with less if you don't want it to be too overpowering)
1/2tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.  You can make this the day before and keep in the fridge.

Greek Marinade
2 chicken breasts, chopped into about 4-5 large chunks

1/2 Large yellow squash, seeded and cut into 1/4" thick strips (or about 3 small yellow squash, halved)
1 Green bell pepper cut into 1/4" strips

1c olive oil
1/4c lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
2tbsp dijon mustard
2tbsp dried oregano
1tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1tsp dried thyme)
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1tsp dried rosemary)
1tsp pepper

Wisk all ingredients (other than veggies and chicken) together in a bowl.  Place chicken and veggies in a large ziploc baggie and pour marinade over the top.  Zip the bag and work the mixture throughout so everything is covered.  Put in the fridge for a minimum of 1hr, but can stay in the fridge for up to a day.

Grill chicken and veggies until tender/cooked through.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes, and chop into 1/2" pieces.  Set aside.

Cucumber and red onion for garnish
Goat cheese (optional)
Corn tortillas

After cooking the chicken, place corn tortillas on the grill.  Only a minute or so on each side, watching carefully.

Spread a little (or a lot) of pesto on each tortilla to your liking, pile on some chicken and veggies, and top with cucumber, onion and a sprinkle of goat cheese.  We served ours with some couscous :)

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