Alina's Tempeh Gyros with Tofu Tzatziki

I lived in Chicago one summer, and during that time I consumed an unimaginable amount of gyros. In my mind, gyros equate to summertime which is my favorite season by a landslide. As the snow falls outside (why do I live in Wisconsin again?) I've started to crave this summertime treat. Of course, traditional gyros have a tendency to make your hips expand and your heart chug harder, so my challenge this week was to concoct a healthier version that was equally delicious.

Traditionally gyros are stuffed with lamb meat. I've been wanting to make something with tempeh as of late, and realized that tempeh would be the perfect filling for a gyro. I also wanted a simple and healthy tzatziki sauce, and a quick search yielded a jackpot find from the blogger Vegan Dad. Most tzatziki sauce is yogurt based, which is fine, but I thought this guy's recipe was interesting because he used silken tofu instead. I don't actually like yogurt that much, so I was happy to sub it out. I omitted the parsley because I forgot to pick some up at the store. He also uses tempeh, but he turns the tempeh into patties, so his recipe is more complex. I think my straightforward way is delicious and requires much less effort, but his recipe would be interesting to try sometime too.

The final judgement? It was DELICIOUS! And oh-so-easy too. This is something easy, quick, and cheap enough to make regularly aaaaaand it's healthy, which is a nice diversion from traditional gyros. Score!

Approximate cost: $7.75. Makes 6+ servings. 301 calories per serving.
Prep time: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes
  • 1 8-oz block of tempeh
  • A couple of tablespoons of oil (I used EVOO) for the tempeh
  • A tablespoon of oil for the tzatziki sauce
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (This quantity is for the marinade-- Don't worry! There isn't actually 1/4 cup of soy sauce in this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 medium cucumbers, finely chopped
  • Pitas
Tzatziki sauce
Blend the tofu, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, dill, paprika and cayenne and then, as my brother Dugan would say, "Whip it good." Here it is, waiting to be blended:
Chop the cucumbers and mix them in with the blended sauce:
Stick the tzatziki in the fridge while you prep the tempeh.

My mom informed me that since tempeh is
a slightly fermented soy product
it is already partially broken down
and thus easier for your body to digest
than other soy products.

Tempeh has an unusual texture (kind of chunky and a little crumbly) and when I opened the tempeh package I thought the corner looked like an old man. See him? Hilarious.

I sliced the tempeh into long narrow strips, and then dipped those strips in a bowl of 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 water with a little garlic powder. They don't have to marinate long (30 seconds to 1 minute is sufficient). Heat some oil on the stove over medium-low heat and then fry the tempeh strips. You want the tempeh to brown a little on each side, which should take about 2 minutes per side. See my assembly line with the marinating strips waiting to hit the stove top?
 You can prep some other toppings if you'd like. I thinly sliced some red onion and tomato, and then stuffed my gyros. I used two tempeh strips per gyro.
Adam was getting eager to eat while I finished taking a few pictures.
Adam and I both liked these and they were super easy, so we'll definitely be making these again. The tzatziki sauce recipe made a lot, so you could easily halve it, or make twice the tempeh for lots of leftovers.

Adam’s taste rating: 4 ladles
Brad’s taste rating: 3 ladles
Healthy rating: 4 ladles
Ease of prep rating: 5 ladles
Overall average: 4 ladles


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