Be your family’s ‘gyro’ at dinner time

Tzatziki (pronounced zat-zickee) was not a term in my vocabulary until recently.

I was scrolling through Pinterest, as I tend to do in my moments of spare time, and I stumbled on a picture of something that looked delicious.

It was a recipe for Greek turkey meatball gyros (pronounced yee-rows) with tzatziki sauce. I’ve heard of gyros, but tzatziki was a new one.

Apparently, I’m late to that party, because the sauce has been around for centuries. Tony Kavalieros wrote on “The Greek Chef” website that “Tzatziki is Greek, it will stay Greek, and it is the most famous Greek food in the world.”

I couldn’t find an official origin story, but “The Apprentice Chef” claims that tzatziki was created sometime during the Mughal Empire, which controlled India from 1526 to 1827. The rulers had Indian people cooking for them, and when they couldn’t handle Indian spices, the cooks made tzatziki to help cool things down for them, since its main ingredients are cucumbers and Greek yogurt.

Regardless of the history, the version of tzatziki I made the other day turned out well, and I enjoyed it.

The recipe I used was from the blog “Joyful Healthy Eats with a Side of Sweets.” You can find the original at I increased the amount of garlic in my version.

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Greek Turkey Meatball Gyro

with Tzatziki


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup red onion, diced finely

6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup cucumber, grated

2 scant tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

salt to taste

the remainder of the red onion, thinly sliced

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 cup diced cucumber

4 flatbreads (pita)


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

In a bowl, combine the turkey, diced onion, garlic cloves, chopped spinach, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until it’s well combined.

Roll the mixture into one-inch balls, and sauté them in the heated pan for about three minutes on each side until they’re done (if you want to use a meat thermometer, turkey should be cooked to an internal temp of 165).

Set the meatballs aside.

In another bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, lemon juice, dill, garlic powder and salt to taste and stir to combine.

Serve the meatballs on the flatbread, topped with tzatziki, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion.

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I really liked this. Joey wasn’t sure about the sauce, but he was a big fan of the meatballs, which you could totally serve with spaghetti if you wanted to.

I also found tiny flatbreads that I served our gyros on, which didn’t work as well as I hoped, but my local grocery store was out of pita bread, so I improvised. Sometimes that’s just how it works out.

And now I can sound super smart if I’m ever in a restaurant that has tzatziki on the menu. Although, considering the many, many years of history, I may quite literally be the last person who discovered this delicious sauce.

Lindsey Young is managing editor of The Clarion, the Kansas Publishing Ventures newspaper in Andale. She can be reached at