Greek Nachos is not a tragedy

Greek Nachos: food fusion at its best

I am not a fan of the trend of blending food cultures into new improved creations. Fancy foodies call it fusion; I call it a hot mess. For example, Mexican Lasagna may be delicious but to my mind it’s an odd oxymoron. I’ve been called rigid, inflexible and close-minded. Personally I believe it’s a food travesty to serve a bright and fruity Spanish Rosado with bratwurst and kraut. I consider oddities like cheeseburger egg-rolls and Tex-Mex curry to be nothing short of a culinary crime.

Y’all, I’ve been so wrong.

Scorn was my first emotion when I first stumbled upon Greek Nachos. But I was looking for a good way to use a pound of ground lamb, and I had a few picky eaters to please. Since scooping food onto a chip and into your mouth always pleases my picky eaters I decided that maybe, just this once, I could fuse Tex-Mex Nachos with traditional Greek Flavors. I think it’s safe to say, Greek Nachos officially killed the food snob in me.

Traditionally Greek food is simple. Greeks don’t eat spicy food and don’t season heavily. They rely on fresh, simple ingredients and most Greek recipes strive to bring out the natural flavor of food rather than hide or disguise it with spices.

Lamb is a very common source of protein in Greece; Greeks rarely eat beef. However, ground beef makes a fine substitute for lamb in this dish. Grilled chicken would work well too.

Greek Nachos

Yield: 6-8 servings

2 Tablespoons of high quality olive oil

2/3 cup of finely chopped red onion (about half a medium sized red onion)

1-pound ground lamb (beef may be substituted)

Salt to taste

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed well

Toppings

4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese

¾ cup of chopped cucumber

¾ cup chopped fresh tomato

¾ cup chopped yellow bell pepper

a few tablespoons of chopped red onion

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the lamb, salt and oregano; cook until the meat is brown; add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from the heat and fold in the olives. Keep warm.

To assemble:

Arrange the pita chips (recipe below) on a large serving platter. Top with the meat mixture and dollop tzatziki over the top of the meat and sprinkle with feta cheese. Add the remaining toppings as desired. Serve immediately.

Don’t skip making the Tzatziki from scratch. It takes a bit of planning; this is not a quick recipe. Taking the time to drain the dairy and cucumber means your sauce is creamier, thicker and so much more delicious.

I go all “high tech” when I drain; a coffee filter in a colander works for me. Additionally, take the time to remove all the seeds from the cucumber before draining. No one wants seedy tzatziki.

Tzatziki

Yield: 6-8 servings

1 cup of full fat plain Green yogurt

¼ sour cream

1 cucumber

¼ teaspoon of salt

½ Tablespoon of white balsamic vi negar

1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

½ Tablespoon high quality olive oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

Freshly ground black pepper

To strain the yogurt and sour cream:

Place a fine mesh strainer on top of a smaller bowl (to catch the fluid). Be sure the strainer does NOT touch the bottom of the bowl and there is at least 1-2 inches of space between the bottom of the strainer and the bowl. Place a coffee filter in the bottom of the strainer.

Mix 1 cup of Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of sour cream together. Place the yogurt mixture into the prepared strainer and place it in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.

To prepare the cucumber:

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise (do not peel). Use a small spoon to carefully scoop the seeds from each cucumber half. Using a box grater, grate the cucumber; place it in a colander set over a smaller bowl (see above for spacing). Sprinkle the grated cucumber with salt. Let the cucumber strain at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Occasionally press the cucumbers to help release the liquid.

Putting it together:

Squeeze all the excess water from the cucumber with paper towels. Put the yogurt mixture in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. Add all the ingredients, except for the cucumber. Once thoroughly mixed, fold in the cucumber, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors blend.

You can certainly buy pita chips for this recipe; making your own is not a requirement for delicious Greek Nachos. However, making your own pita chips is so easy. You can easily customize flavors, substitute whole wheat or gluten free pita rounds. If you prefer thinner, crispier chips simply split the rounds before cutting and brushing with oil and seasoning.

Homemade Pita Chips

Yield: 6-8 servings

6 pita rounds

3 Tablespoons of high quality olive oil

Salt and Freshly Ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Brush the pitas with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut each round into 6 wedges. Arrange the wedges on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Turn the baking sheet halfway during the cooking time to ensure even browning.