No mystery meat here! Instead, you’ve got 100% real eggplant with charry grilled goodness as the star of this super flavorful, super saucy gyro for vegetarians—or part-time vegetarians! One of the secrets to its scrumptiousness is the homemade gyro seasoning. Make several batches of it in advance so you have it on hand any time you plan to cookout! You’ll get plenty of fresh tzatziki sauce here, too. I absolutely don’t believe in skimping on that. This inspired gyro will surely become a new favorite at your backyard BBQ! Or whip out a grill pan and make this for a meat-free fix anytime. Hint: It’ll absolutely make a memorable Meatless Monday!
Calories saved: 270 calories
Why it’s better for you: Lots more fiber; lots less “bad” fats
- 1 large (1 1/4 pound) eggplant, cut into 12 rounds
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 recipe Jackie’s Greek Gyro Seasoning (see below)
- 1 1/3 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt or vegan alternative
- Juice of 1/2 small lemon (1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup finely diced unpeeled English cucumber
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 4 whole grain pocketless pitas, lightly grilled
- 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Preheat a grill or grill pan. Very lightly brush both sides of the eggplant rounds with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season one side of the eggplant rounds with the gyro seasoning. Grill eggplant (seasoned side up first) over direct medium-high heat until cooked through and rich grill marks form, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, make the tzatziki sauce by adding the yogurt, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper to a medium bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. (Hint: The thicker the yogurt, the better!) Add the cucumber, garlic, mint, and dill and stir to evenly combine. Adjust seasoning. (Makes 1 2/3 cups tzatziki.)*
- Top each pita with about 3 tablespoons each tzatziki. Arrange the grilled eggplant on the pita. Top with tomatoes and onion and fold. Serve with remaining tzatziki on the side. If desired, garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Per serving (based on 2.25oz pitas): 360 calories, 13g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol., 900mg sodium, 54g total carbohydrate, 9g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 15g protein
(NOTE: if using 3 oz. pitas = 420 calories, 13g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 990mg sodium, 65g total carbohydrate, 10g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 17g protein)
JACKIE’S GREEK GYRO SEASONING: Mix together 3/4 teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon each dried dill, crushed dried rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Makes 1 recipe (4 servings). Hint: Make in advance and store in sealed, labeled jar. To make a milder version of this seasoning, replace the 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
*If desired, these gyros can be drizzled with a tahini dressing in place of tzatziki: Whisk together 1/3 cup each tahini and unsweetened green tea, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, and pinch of ground cumin.
The “Before” Version
Inspired by Greek-American Lamb Gyros
Per serving: 630 calories, 38g total fat, 15g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 100mg cholesterol, 1570mg sodium, 42g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 6g sugars, 29g protein
- When you can swap a veggie for a meat, do it! Grill the veggie, like eggplant, for extra smoky flavor. And make sure the meal still has plenty of protein otherwise.
- Play up spices! It’s no time to be shy when making a recipe healthier. Besides, spices help pump up plant-based nutrients to provide health protective properties, too.
- Be generous with healthful sauces, like tzatziki. (Hello, probiotics!)