Thursday, February 3, 2011

Greek Gyro, Vegan Style

We love to go to the Texas Renaissance Festival. There is always something new to see there. It's also the place where my husband and I have tried new foods for the first time. One of those foods was a Greek sandwich called a gyro (yeer-ro). It was difficult at the time to find a local place that made them, so we were limited to the Renfest to indulge our taste buds. Now you can buy one at the mall food court. When I went vegan, it was one food that no longer graced my menu.

Until now.

Greek Gyro, Vegan Style

Dry ingredients:
1-1/2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/4 c. tapioca flour
2 T. chickpea flour
2 T.nutritional yeast
1 t. onion powder
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. rosemary
1/2 t. parsley
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper
Wet ingredients:
1 c. vegetable broth
1-1/2 T. tahini
1 T. dry white wine
1/2 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper

Tzaziki Sauce (recipe follows)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. Knead mixture for a few minutes.  On a large sheet of foil, shape seitan to fit inside a steamer. Wrap in foil, but not too tightly. Place the foil packet in the steamer and steam for 55 minutes.
In a shallow container, combine the marinade ingredients. Slice the seitan as thinly as possible and add to marinade. Coat the seitan well, cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Make Tzaziki Sauce.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium. Add the seitan and any marinade and cook until hot.
Serve in pita bread or flour tortillas, with some chopped red onion, peeled and chopped cucumber, chopped tomato and shredded lettuce. Drizzle on some Tzaziki Sauce.

Tzaziki Sauce

1/2 c. vegan yogurt
3/4 t. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 T. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c. peeled and chopped cucumber
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
2 green onions, minced
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. dill
pinch cayenne and black pepper
1/8 t. salt

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Gyros are an American-Greek sandwich. Most food historians generally agree the name "gyro" and the current sandwich are both recent inventions originating in New York during the early 1970s. Gyros are believed to have originated in Greece. (They’re similar to the döner kebabs of Turkey and shawarma of the Middle East, which are slices of meat, rather than a minced loaf.) The process starts with boxes of raw beef and lamb trimmings, and ends with what looks like oversized Popsicles the shade of a Band-Aid. In between, the meat is run through a four-ton grinder, where bread crumbs, water, oregano and other seasonings are added. A clumpy paste emerges and is squeezed into a machine that checks for metal and bone. Sounds disgusting, doesn't it? It still amazes me what people will eat, especially when they don't know what it is exactly. And yeah, I was one of the guilty. But then, I used to eat at McDonalds, too. Hydraulic pressure — 60 pounds per square inch — is used to fuse the meat into cylinders.

A proper American-Greek Gyro gyro is made with meat cut off a big cylinder. This meat is cooked on a slowly rotating vertical spit or gyro, implying the circular spinning motion of a gyroscope. The sandwich maker slices off strips of the warm meat when the sandwich is ordered, heats pita bread on a griddle or grill, and then serves the meat on the bread, topped with the sauce which is usually garnished with lettuce and tomato.

It is similar to a Turkish Doner Kebab: Slices of marinated lamb, mutton, beef, veal, or chicken which are stacked on a vertical spit and roasted at a vertical grill. It is served as a type of sandwich stuffed into Turkish bread, rolled into flat bread, or laid atop diced flat bread and topped with sauces.

This type of sandwich has been known, and sold on the streets, by the people of Greece, the Middle East, and Turkey for hundreds of years. Greek historians believe that the dish originated during Alexander The Great’s time, when his soldiers used their long knives to skewer meat and kept turning the meat over fires.

Gyro is probably the most often mispronounced food name. Even its fans usually do not get the pronounced correctly - whether it is mispronounced as "jee-rohs," "jai-rohs," "gee-rohs," The correct Greek pronunciation is “yee-rohs.” The varied names have geographical origins from different peoples’ languages.

However it is made or sold, I'd much rather have the cruelty-free version. It is tasty and filling and I know exactly what is in it! Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients. It is really quick and simple to whip up, the steaming time is the kicker. But you can make this a day ahead, let it sit in the refrigerator until ready to cook and your family will love you for it!

Seitan on FoodistaSeitan

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