These spring gyros are topped with a sweet and refreshing apricot salsa, quick yogurt sauce and fresh pea sprouts. They’re definitely not your average gyro!
I hope you’re reading that title as “yee-ro” and not the butchered American pronunciation. Much like “motts-a-rella” instead of “mot-suh-rel-luh” grates at my nerves, gy-ro instead of yee-ro causes the same reaction. Although, coming from an Italian family versus marrying into a Greek one, the cheese butchering will always be considered a higher offense.
This post is sponsored by RTTK partner, the American Lamb Board.
Italians and Greeks as a culture definitely have their differences, but one of the very obvious commonalities is the food. From the importance of olives/olive oil to the classic dishes (you can’t deny the similarity between lasagna and pastitsio) down to the holiday traditions like lamb at Easter.
As a kid, I distinctly remember trips to Little Italy in the Bronx around Easter time with almost every butcher shop proudly displaying an entire lamb in their store front window. There was no question what would be served for Easter dinner, a lamb roast was always on the table.
Fast forward years later to when I met my husband, all his Greek friends and slowly got introduced to the Greek culture and came to find out, Easter, while celebrated on a different day, pretty much meant the same thing when it came to the food.
I asked my mother in law a few weeks ago when we were in Florida visiting what the significance of lamb in the spring was to Greeks assuming there would be some well known piece of Greek history I didn’t know about that would explain this cultural obsession (for lack of a better word).
Her answer: I really don’t know, Gina (with a completely baffled look on her face letting me know she never really stopped to think about it before).
So, I did a little digging.
Turns out (or at least Google says so), it really all goes back to the bible. Lamb is referenced in the Old Testament as a sacrifice to God to atone for sins and of course, it’s referenced in the Gospels when John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God.
The fact that I sat through 14 years of CCD (religious school) and uncountable masses as a kid where each and every gospel said this, yet I couldn’t put two and two together without googling is really quite indicative of where I stand on the religious front.
Religion aside, I also, from a more practical mindset, think the whole lamb + spring thing has to do with the time of year they’re born and ready to eat based on some additional conversation with my mother in law who grew up in a small mountainous farming village in Greece.
So here we are with orthodox Easter this coming Sunday and what better way to celebrate than with the quintessential Greek food, “yee-ros”.
The American Lamb Board graciously sent me a gorgeous boneless American leg of lamb to help celebrate spring and I decided to serve it gyro style but with a spring twist including a sweet and refreshing apricot salsa, a quick tart yogurt sauce and some fresh pea shoots for garnish. Served in a toasted pita, these spring gyros make for a fun, updated way to do a holiday spread.
Be sure to check out the American Lamb Board’s site solely dedicated to spring for recipes | roasting time and tips | how tos and pretty hysterical infographics like this “No More Mint Jelly” (<–can I get an amen?!)
For the lamb
- 3-5 pounds boneless leg of American lamb
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
For the apricot salsa
- 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- salt and pepper
For the yogurt sauce
- 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- salt and pepper
- pea shoots
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine shallot, garlic, dill, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Rub the mixture over the entire surface of the leg of lamb, place in a roasting dish and roast until thermometer reads 135-140 degrees for medium rare, cooking time will depend on size of your lamb. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing (meat will continue to cook a little once removed from oven).
- Make the apricot salsa by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing together.
- Make the yogurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in another small bowl.
- To serve, toast pitas on a grill or greased skillet until golden brown.
- Add lamb to the pitas, top with yogurt sauce, apricot salsa and garnish with fresh pea shoots.