We kicked off the summer this holiday weekend by having my parents over to help my cousin’s family get their first backyard garden started (my husband and I share a multi-family home with them). I am not much of a green thumb or one for manual labor, so naturally I volunteered to cook lunch. My mom and dad started their garden a few years ago and over time it has really flourished. It’s great not only for the fresh food rewards, but it keeps you active, outdoors, and is very good for our friend mother Earth. I was at Yoga when they arrived, so it was such a pleasure to see everyone already in action when I came home – three generations working harmoniously together. The little record player in my mind started spinning around and Ricky Nelson’s Garden Party started playing full blast.
People came from miles around, everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air
Ricky’s song tells the story of a concert at Madison Square Garden gone awry, where older fans were disappointed by his “modern” 70s look and new country swing – ending with him abruptly walking off stage in the middle of the set. When I was planning the menu, I wanted to keep with the healthy theme of the task at hand. At first I was worried my family might groan over my alternative choice to the usual BBQ fare, but I stuck to my guns and chose a recipe I saw on the Rachael Ray show for grilled Greek chicken.
Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came
No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same
I said hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave
There was the usual excitement over firing up the grill as the aroma spread through the yard. When the dinner bell rang, I got a few stares and a “what is THAT?!” from a couple of the diners. After a little nudging they gobbled everything down with delight. It was a light yet filling compliment to a long day of working in the sun. I had my Ricky-style “you can’t please everyone” defense planned, but luckily for me our little garden party ended on a much higher note.
If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck
It’s all right now, learned my lesson well
You see you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself
The chicken marinade was incredibly easy and packed with flavor. It is served on grilled Naan bread with fresh chopped veggies and a homemade tzatziki (pronouced “tsah-zee-kee”) sauce. The best part was not having to turn the oven on in my tiny little AC-free kitchen! Perhaps the dish might make a repeat appearance at the end of the summer when we can use our own garden fresh veggies ripe for the picking!
Until we beat again… Kasey
Grilled Greek Chicken with Feta Tzatziki Sauce (Adapted from the Rachael Ray Show)
Serves 4 to 6
4 chicken breasts
3 lemons, 1 sliced and 2 cut in half
3 cloves garlic, grated, pressed, or finely chopped
1 Fresno chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 tbsp dried orgegno
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber, 1 half peeled, seeded and shredded, the other cut in half lengthwise, then sliced about 1/4″ thick
1 6 oz. container plain, Greek style yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/2 cup crumbled feta, plus more for the table
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and sliced into 1″ strips
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1″ strips
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
4 to 6 pieces Naan or pita bread, grilled
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Chicken:
- Sprinkle poultry seasoning on both sides of chicken. Transfer to a large, resealable bag.
- To the chicken, add the sliced lemon, 2 cloves garlic, chili pepper, oregano, rosemary, and olive oil.
- Seal and marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Before grilling, bring chicken to room temperature. Grill on medium-high heat for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through or internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice on an angle and top with juice of one of the halved lemons.
For the Tzatziki:
- Peel, seed and shred half of the cucumber. Transfer to strainer, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pat dry/let drain for about 20 minutes.
- Combine shredded cucumber, juice of remaining lemon, remaining clove garlic, yogurt, feta, dill, and parsley in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Keep chilled.
- Chop remaining half of cucumber and veggies.
- Grill Naan or pita bread, about 2 minutes on each side.
- Top each piece of bread with generous amount of tzatziki, a handful of veggies, chicken, olives, and extra feta (if desired).
- For the poultry seasoning, I used Weber Beer Can Chicken Seasoning - available at most grocery stores in the spice aisle.
- I used the shredder attachment for my food processor to shred the cucumber and it worked really well.
- Given the lemony flavor, the marinade would also work well with a white fish.
- Make the tzatziki anytime for a light and creamy dressing!
- Save time the day of your BBQ – Everything can be prepped the night before serving.
Grab a beer and relax with Garden Party, by Ricky Nelson: