This recipe is one of my most popular ever. I first made it around 8 or 9 years ago, when I was brand-new at my post as a Spanish Bar Chef.
My blackboard menu was my own design every night. It was a short while before I had this post down, inspiration always flowed, and I hit my stride. Before all that happened, sometimes I was less than the quintessential Idea Girl … so I remember the exact moment this one hit.
One day, watching Food TV – which I rarely ever do, I promise – Chef Michael Symon (who is of Greek, Sicilian, and Eastern European descent which meant I could trust his food savvy), prepared something like this recipe, in minutes.
I took the idea and ran with it. My rendition probably only mildly matches his, since I only took mental notes to inspire my own version. It was immediately a huge hit at the Bar, and with everyone to whom I’ve served it ever since.
It may be served either as a wrap sandwich, or deconstructed (in pieces) which was actually more popular at the Bar, because it could be shared more easily. Leftovers are delicious, since the julienned vegetables are marinated and the seasoned ground meat tastes even better the next day.
This prep is a lot less daunting than it appears! These components are easily prepared for a weeknight meal – dinner is served in no time. I hope you enjoy it.
Mediterranean Street Food
To begin, warm pita bread:
8 pieces of pita bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Brush both sides of pita bread with a little olive oil, stack pieces. In large piece of foil, wrap stack of pita tightly, to warm in low 300F oven. (Please do not microwave pita to heat.)
Prepare seasoned ground meat:
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
I lb. ground chicken, beef, lamb, or combination (I personally prefer chicken)
1 generous teaspoon cumin powder
1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked or hot paprika
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in large skillet and crumble meat into pan. Add cumin, cinnamon, paprika. Break meat into smallest pieces possible. When meat is just about cooked through, add cilantro, parsley, and mint. Continue cooking until meat is lightly browned. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. When you like the flavor, it’s done. Transfer from skillet to serving bowl, keep warm.
Prepare marinated vegetables:
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup julienned carrots
2 Persian cucumbers, julienned
1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, julienned
½ cup thinly sliced red onion, or pickled onions (recipe here)
Red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Combine cabbage, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, and onion in serving bowl. Splash with red wine vinegar (maybe 1/2 cup, or more – enough to coat mixture well). Stir through. Generously drizzle mix with olive oil to coat mixture again, stir through. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until serving. Store remaining portion (preferably in glass bowl) for up to 3 days.
Prepare Yogurt dip/sauce:
2 cups Greek-style (or other favorite) plain yogurt
Juice of two fresh limes
Honey to taste
Pinch of salt
Whisk yogurt and lime juice in medium bowl. Drizzle in honey to taste, for desired sweetness; stir in salt. Keep remaining portion refrigerated for up to 2 weeks (use for smoothies – delicious!).
Serve Street Food:
For wrap sandwich:
Lay pita on piece of sandwich paper for wrapping (optional). Place some ground meat down the middle of round. Top with some marinated vegetables, and drizzle with yogurt sauce. Roll sandwich as tightly as possible. Cut with sharp knife to halve diagonally. Serve immediately.
For Deconstructed Platter:
Cut pita rounds into triangles (4, 6, or 8 pieces). Place pita pieces, bowl of meat, vegetables, and yogurt sauce on plate / platter, and allow guests to serve themselves as desired.
Yields about 4 servings.