Weeknight Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Even though I have a tried and true recipe for this family favorite, I couldn’t resist trying another version- especially a Milk Street version. 🙂 It did not disappoint! It was more flavor-packed and spicy than the recipe I’ve used in the past. This shortcut version uses the broiler to cook the chicken and does not require advance preparation or marinating time. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I used the suggested amount of hot paprika but would only use half next time. (It was spicier than I had anticipated!) The delicious yogurt-tahini sauce offset the spiciness nicely. Serving the chicken with rice and warm naan also balanced the meal.

For the Spice Mix:

  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot paprika (or 1 tsp hot paprika with 1 tsp sweet paprika)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T tahini
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 5 large)
  • 1 medium-large red onion

For the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Spice Mix (reserved from above)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek whole milk yogurt)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T tahini
  • grated lemon zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

  • chopped mint, for garnish
  • warm flatbread such as naan or pita, optional
  • rice or rice pilaf (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice)
  • chopped cucumbers (seeded, if desired)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • lemon wedges, optional

To Make the Spice Mix:

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper.
  2. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mix into a medium bowl; set aside. This will be used in the Tahini-Yogurt Sauce.

To Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Trim the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Cut each thigh crosswise into thirds (or fourths if large).
  3. Cut the red onion in half. Slice 1/2-inch thick. (I cut the onion into 12 slices.)
  4. Into the remaining spice mix, whisk the olive oil, 1 T tahini, and 2 T lemon juice.
  5. Add the chicken and onion pieces to the spiced olive oil mixture. Mix until coated evenly. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heating element. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @500 degrees.)
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lightly coat with cooking oil spray. While the broiler preheats, make the yogurt sauce.

To Make the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce:

  1. To the reserved teaspoon of spice mix, add the yogurt, 1 T olive oil, 2 T tahini, lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice, and 2 T fresh mint.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir and set aside.

To Cook the Chicken & To Serve:

  1. Transfer the chicken-onion mixture, along with the marinade, to the prepared baking sheet. Distribute in an even layer.
  2. Broil until the chicken is lightly charred on both sides, 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once about halfway through. (I also rotated the pan halfway through.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice. (I served the chicken over brown Basmati rice.) Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven.
  5. Place the rice in an even layer in a shallow serving dish. Top with chicken and onions; drizzle with pan drippings. Sprinkle with chopped mint.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges, warm flatbread, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and yogurt-tahini sauce.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower & Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce

This is another quick and easy weeknight dinner. I love sheet pan meals! The yogurt sauce was absolutely essential- we all gobbled it up dolloped over both the cauliflower and the chicken. The spice blend, especially the smoked paprika, gave the chicken a great depth of flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yossy Arefi. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and modified the proportions as well as the marinating and cooking times. I served it with roasted potatoes (made simultaneously in the same oven) and crusty sourdough bread.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Roasted Chicken Thighs & Cauliflower:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds) or 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 2-inch florets (about 5 cups)
  • 3 shallots, quartered lengthwise (about 1 heaping cup)

For the Herbed Yogurt Sauce:

  • 10 oz (about 1 1/4 cups) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for serving (I used Meyer lemon juice)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coriander, paprika, Aleppo pepper, and red pepper flakes with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and trim excess fat.
  3. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat in the oil and spices. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. (I marinated the chicken for 2 hours.)
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees and set a rack in the center. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. Arrange the chicken, “skin-side up”, on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  6. Add the cauliflower, shallots, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to the bowl with the residual marinade. Toss to coat, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer surrounding the chicken.
  7. Bake until the chicken is deep golden brown and cooked through and the cauliflower is browned, tossing the vegetables once or twice, about 20 to 25 minutes for boneless and up to 40 minutes for bone-in. The internal temperature should read 165 degrees on instant read thermometer. (If the chicken is done before the cauliflower, transfer the thighs to a plate, cover, and continue cooking the cauliflower until golden brown.)
  8. While the chicken bakes, prepare the yogurt sauce: Whisk the yogurt, parsley or mint, cilantro, lemon juice and grated garlic with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (I made the sauce after making the chicken marinade and let it sit in the refrigerator during the marinating time as well.)
  9. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter and top with any juices left on the sheet pan and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  10. Serve with yogurt sauce on the side, sprinkled with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Vegetable Baked Rice with White Beans & Leeks

Baked rice is quick and easy to prepare and is really delicious. This baked rice dish was inspired by prasorizo, the classic Greek rice-and-leek dish. It makes a great vegetarian main dish or a phenomenal side. We ate it as a main dish with rotisserie chicken on the side. 😉 The freshly grated Parmesan really added richness to the meal.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Almost any vegetable can be incorporated into the dish.  I added my beautiful CSA Romanesco cauliflower (with its greens) as well as baby spinach. The original recipe suggests alternatively adding tomatoes, zucchini, and/or broccoli with the leeks, or arugula and/or sliced sugar snap peas after the dish is removed from the oven.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 to 5 leeks (about 2 pounds), trimmed, white and pale green parts, cut lengthwise & sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lemon
  • chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli florets, and/or cauliflower florets, optional (I used Romanesco cauliflower florets)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (I used raw slivered almonds), or more, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white basmati rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (such as cannellini or great Northern), drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water or stock
  • coarsely chopped spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas (I used 2 cups chopped baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or chopped basil, chives, mint or fennel fronds, plus more for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Soak sliced leeks in a bowl of water, remove with a slotted spoon or spider, then shake or pat dry.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 1-inch-thick strips of lemon zest, then cut the lemon in half. Cut one half into four wedges and reserve the other half.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, combine the leeks, lemon zest strips, almonds, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. (I used an enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  5. If adding chopped tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, and/or cauliflower, add to the pan with the leeks. (I added Romanesco cauliflower florets.)
  6. Season generously with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer. Roast until the leeks start to caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove and finely chop the lemon zest strips, then stir the zest back into the leek mixture. Arrange in an even layer.
  8. Sprinkle the rice evenly over the leeks, then top with the beans and 1 teaspoon salt.
  9. Add the boiling water or stock, then seal the pan tightly with foil.
  10. Bake until the rice is tender, 20 to 22 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven, and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  12. If adding spinach and/or arugula, or sliced sugar snap peas, add them in at this time. (I added the Romanesco cauliflower greens, ribs removed and finely sliced, as well as 2 cups of baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped.)
  13. Squeeze the lemon half over the rice, then stir in Parmesan and herbs.
  14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Serve with lemon wedges, and more Parmesan and herbs, as desired.

Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut Milk & Turmeric

This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
  • yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
  • Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
  5. Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
  6. Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.

Cream of Fresh Pea Soup

I have one more green soup to share. This bright green soup screams “springtime” to me but it can be a wonderful summertime soup because it is also delicious served chilled. It is a classic soup in my house- I have made it for years using both fresh or frozen peas.

The fresh herbs provide the bright flavor in the finished soup. I have always incorporated fresh dill but I can imagine that it would also be delicious with basil or a combination of fresh herbs.

This recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Fast, healthy, and delicious.

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
  • 4 cups peas, fresh (about 20 oz) or frozen
  • 1 cup milk (low-fat or soy okay)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T minced fresh dill, mint, basil, tarragon, parsley, and/or chives
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and salt, and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock/water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the peas, cover again, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until the peas are tender.
  4. Purée the soup with the milk using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, then return the purée to the pot.
  5. Reheat the soup very gently. Add the minced fresh herbs just prior to serving.

Note: This soup also tastes wonderful served at room temperature or chilled.

Kofta Sandwiches with Tomatoes & Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.

After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 small naan or pitas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
  • sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
  5. Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
  6. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
  7. Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.

Farro & Arugula Salad with Herbs

I made this wonderful salad for my birthday dinner celebration at home. This salad was not only published by Melissa Clark in The New York Times, Ina Garten also shared it in her book, Cook Like a Pro. What endorsements!

The original recipe is from Charlie Bird in NYC. It is a signature dish on the menu. The New York Times article stated,

 “There are two essential steps to a stellar farro salad. The first is cooking the farro with enough salt and aromatics so that it delicious before you combine it with the rest of the ingredients. The second is to use very good olive oil in the dressing. This farro salad, from the restaurant Charlie Bird in SoHo, hits both these marks. The chef Ryan Hardy cooks the farro in apple cider seasoned with bay leaves and plenty of salt, which renders it good enough to eat on its own. But it’s even better after he adds loads of olive oil, plus pistachio nuts and Parmesan cheese to make it even richer. Then, before serving, he folds in fresh vegetables to brighten it up: juicy tomatoes, radishes, arugula and plenty of herbs. There are many farro salads of this ilk out there. This is one of the best.”

I had to make it- it sounded incredible! It was loaded with so many of my favorite ingredients.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of arugula in the salad and served it over a bed of arugula. It was for my birthday. 😉 I also incorporated my CSA cilantro and modified the proportions in the dressing. Next time, I would reduce the amount of salt in the farro, noted below.

I served it with rotisserie chicken to make it a complete meal for my crowd. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 for lunch/side dish or 4 as a main course

  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup), divided
  • 70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (1/2 cup) (I used salt & pepper pistachios)
  • 2 cups (2 large handfuls) arugula leaves, plus more for serving, as desired
  • 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  • 1 cup mint or cilantro leaves
  • cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced radishes (I used my CSA French breakfast radishes)
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 1 cup water to a simmer.
  2. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 20 to 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. (If using regular pearled farro, increase the water to 2 cups.)
  3. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
  4. In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Add farro, 2/3 of the shaved cheese and pistachio nuts. Mix well. (This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving.)
  6. Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with remaining shaved cheese.
  8. Serve over additional arugula, if desired.

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