grilled-lamb-kebabs-tzatziki Recipes

grilled lamb kebabs + tzatziki

What do you do to prepare for a baby? We’ve talked about it endlessly this summer, and I have no doubt you’re out there thinking, “my goodness, has she still not had that baby yet?” Tell me about it. But really, how do you get ready? Do you try to figure out learn how to cook respectable meals in a minimum of time? Do you cook and freeze weeks worth of lasagna and enchiladas to ensure you don’t go hungry when the baby demands all of your attention? Do you use your remaining unscheduled time in the kitchen to bribe labor and delivery nurses?

rosemarymarinatinggrilling kebabslamb kebabs, grilling

Among the many slightly absurd ways we’ve been getting ourselves ready, we decided that we needed to clear out our DVR queue last week, to make room for all of the shows we’ll likely be missing the first runs of. And what needed clearing out? Episodes and episodes of Barefoot Contessa, it turned out, and it was some dangerous stuff. All of a sudden I was bookmarking recipes in threes, despite knowing that it might take me months or longer to get to them. And I was totally willing to wait until I hit the episode where she goes Greek.

cucumbersshredded cukethe best tzatziki i've ever madegrilled pita wedges, tzaziki

I’ve had the fiercest Greek food cravings since I’ve been pregnant. I started drooling about six months ago somewhere between the grilled haloumi and broiled saganaki and lemon-rosemary grilled lamb chops and the yogurt, my word, the yogurt, and have not been able to stop, thus not four hours after we’d watched the Greek episode, Alex and I were at the market, getting what we needed to recreate these recipes that night. Alas, the photo mojo was not with us that evening, so you’ll have to forgive the less-than-appetizing representations but trust me, these two recipes should be made — at once! hurry! — before you are forced to put your grill away for the season.


P.S. The sunset that night was far prettier than the food so feel free to feast your eyes on this instead, and imagine how lovely it was to watch that while washing down the food with beer, wine and (siiigh) club soda.


One year ago: Eggs in Tomato Sauce
Two years ago: Chocolate Babka
Three years ago: Outrageous Brownies

Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Kebabs
Adapted, barely, from Ina Garten

The yogurt-marinated lamb kebabs were ridiculously juicy and tangy and the tzatziki was, hands down, the best I have ever eaten. Throw in some Mediterranean Pepper Salad, Spanakopita and Homemade Pitas and you will never, ever get rid of me. Thus, you’ve been warned.

1 pound plain yogurt (regular or lowfat)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing grill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
5 tablespoons fresh whole rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds top round lamb
1 red onion

Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cut the lamb in 1 1/2-inch cubes (you’ll have about 20) and add it to the yogurt, making sure it is covered with the marinade. Cover the mixture plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days.

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Spread the coals in one tight layer on the grill. Cut the red onion in 8 pieces and separate each piece into three or four sections. Loosely thread three or four pieces of lamb onto skewers alternately with sections of onion. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning two or three times, until the lamb is medium-rare.

Serve with salad, grilled pitas and tzatziki (below).

Almost exactly as Ina Garten makes it, because it is perfect (even if sour cream and vinegar might make it a tad less traditional)

14 ounces Greek yogurt (Ina recommends Fage Total; I recommend whatever you like best, and yes, I use full fat, always)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Grate the cucumber on a box grater (or in your food processor, if you like to get things done in one hundreth of the time!) and squeeze the grated cucumber with your hand to remove some of the liquid. (Pressing it in mesh sieve with a spoon to extract the extra water or wringing it in cheesecloth also work well.) Add it to the yogurt along with the sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and stir. Serve with grilled pita wedges.

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180 comments on grilled lamb kebabs + tzatziki

  1. Emily

    I just love the Barefoot Contessa. She’s my fave. I should try her tztaziki; I like it sometimes but I’m very picky and haven’t one that is quite perfect.

    Also, every time you go a couple days without a new post, I think “maybe the baby came!!”

  2. amy

    Oh, how I love tzatzki. I could eat it all day long.

    lets face it. nobody is really prepared for a baby. I will say that its suprising how much stuff they DON’T need. a few onesies, lots of burp cloths and swaddling blankets will get you through the first few weeks just fine!

  3. Dancer who eats

    You are heavenly. No really… heavenly. I went to Greece for the first time this year. I ate this every day in Athens. I think I just started crying out of joy. Maybe it will be warm enough to grill this weekend in good ole New England.

  4. MBT

    your pictures, especially the first one and the one of pita + tzatziki, remind me of my favorite time of day and the warm light it shines on everything :-)

    also this reminds me that I STILL need to make your kefta and zucchini kabobs, eesh.

  5. Amy

    Looks awesome! I’m scared of lamb though. I prepared by reading everything I could get my hands on, but I suggest you prepare by resting. Someday baby will be 2 and you’ll never rest (or have 2 freaking seconds to comment on a blog) again.

  6. Funny thing about blog photos – they tend to seem a lot worse to the blogger than to the reader. Even after going back and looking at them after you said you didn’t like them, they look fine to me. I especially like the first one, of the cooked meat on the plate. And, yes, the two of the skyline are fantastic.

  7. I was telling a friend yesterday how I watched Barefoot Contessa and wanted to make the lamb and tzatziki! Yours looks awesome. I have my lamb in the fridge waiting to be marinated tomorrow.

  8. There is no proper way to prepare for a baby, only your own way. You will be astonished afterwards how overly prepared you for some things and how utterly unprepared you are for others. But the time goes by SO QUICKLY. Focus on your little family and let other people do for you. Mine are now at college and in medical school and it seems like yesterday my husband and I were greeting the diaper-service man at 4 in the afternoon in our bathrobes on day 2 home, wondering how it was that neither of us had managed to shower yet.

    We are all looking forward to pictures!!

  9. brista

    We’ve talked about it endlessly this summer, and I have no doubt you’re out there thinking, “my goodness, has she still not had that baby yet?” Tell me about it.

    Hahaha, actually I was thinking that very thing. You read my mind!

  10. Ok gawd—I have a chicken roasting in the oven for enchiladas tonight, and now you’ve got me all messed up! ugh…I’m torn…
    maybe Greek tomorrow.
    I will eat all the tzatziki by myself anyway….

    oh, prepare for the baby? I think you’ve got it all covered. Let people cook for you the first couple of weeks, and enjoy bonding with the little squeak.

  11. The woman puts sour cream in EVERYTHING! I got a book of hers from the library, and I have to say, I have a new found appreciation for her. The recipes were straightforward and really tasty looking. And I appreciate a woman who just goes for the full fat version. Might as well enjoy the best! Best of luck with the baby!

  12. This is how the Food Network should be–making you want to jump up and cook NOW. Though I suppose it’s better for my rapidly spreading hips that its not. Your lack of pictures made me laugh. I did this same thing last week, as I felt no late summer meal should be without roasted corn relish, and posted it despite not having the pictures. Sometimes, things are just that good.

  13. I have not watched so much television in my life as I did the first 2-3 months of the Nuni’s life. Because your hands aren’t free to read, so if you want something entertaining it ends up being TV. Actually, I would say #1 parenting skill in the kitchen is learning to cook 1 handed.

    This looks fantastic though, sour cream and vinegar are always a great combination.

  14. Maya Perelman

    Your father-in-law just said that you don’t have too many meat recipes (the meat eater that he is). And you proved him wrong with this beatiful lamb kebab!

  15. monica

    I had a baby 10 years ago- and I honestly can remember why – cause it seems so nuts now – but I recall eating an awful lot of plain yogurt directly out of the container, with one hand, while holding baby in another and standing at the kitchen counter. My sister, who had a baby at the same time, claims she survived the first week by eating nothing but a cheesecake that someone had made for her- also with one hand while standing at the counter. So, I’d say stock up on one hand-able, directly out of the fridge type foods! Good luck!

  16. Cam

    Have you been craving Afgan by any chance? I love kebab with a side of this delicious chickpea concoction over rice. It is divine but I have no idea how to make it. Well, I know it has Tahini in it. Do you know how to make chickpea stuff? Do you want me to FedEx it to you from Arlington VA so you can enjoy the deliciousness and deconstruct it?

    ps, Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks for all the great ones Deb!

  17. Angela

    I’m not a big fan of lamb but will try the marinade on pork or chicken…it sounds really good! Prepare for a baby by buying some cute loose-fitting pajamas or comfortable clothes, because most of your laundry will involve baby stuff and you don’t want to run out of grownup clothes before it’s your turn.

  18. Jenn

    Hi–Just wanted to say thanks for keeping us eating and drooling this far along your pregnancy! And good luck when the big day comes! It’s one of those things you can’t REALLY be prepared for–it just happens and you go along with it. Just try to remember that newborns only really do three things: eat, sleep and poop. For some reason we all feel like we don’t have time to brush our teeth with child number one–by the time number two and three come along you are also taking care of toddlers or older children and can really appreciate the simplicity of infancy. I hope you can enjoy it and still catch some favorite shows (and of course blog every now and then) :)

  19. Susan

    I had my kids 15 and 13 years ago (they’re that old already?!?) and I have to say, I remember actually doing a lot of cooking when the first one was born. I had stopped working full time and for once in my married life, I found myself with time to plan and execute a meal! And they do sleep quite a bit those first few weeks, though of course, you will too! Sleep when they sleep! When the second one comes around, that’s a different story! We’ll save that for a couple of years…

    Now I have to go cook some Greek food!

  20. I love you! Not only did you help me finally find the perfect drink (watermelon lemonade) but now you’re dealing with my one insatiable pregnancy craving – gyros! I think this might do it, it looks SO SO yummy!!!

  21. Kristen

    As you once said, there is easily accessible food in NYC. So, go get a pedicure, your hair done and whatever else you want that takes a lot of alone time! You won’t be getting so much soon enough! Happy Baby!

  22. judy gal

    you will look up and it’s suddenly dinner time… practice looking needy now — and use that look to ask hubby for “take-out tonight”..

    we all learn to survive.. it’s a delicate balancing act for Moms..try reallllll hard to keep your priorities straight (i.e., “very clean” is a waste of time!)

  23. Kristina

    I’m also in a large city, so I have been stocking up on things that are large/cumbersome and cannot be easily delivered. That means toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, etc. I also plan on making a bunch of soups for the freezer since our baby will come in early Nov.

  24. You make me giggle. Somewhere along the line I learned my OBGYN’s favorite snack was those cheese puffs (like cheese curls but in a ball) and you can be damn sure I showed up in labor with cheese puffs in abundance. He was thrilled. He also gave most of them to the nurses. “I have a lot of people bring me wine or champagne,” he said, but he doesn’t drink! So the cheese balls were a huge hit.
    Remember you will (probably) not be allowed to eat so don’t bring anything aromatic that will make you even more hungry than you will already be.
    And as a mom a few years ahead of you I am praying for you to find/create more meals that are quick, easy and fabulous. I’m ever on the lookout. And I have some chorizo to work down in the fridge so I will look forward to trying the one you highlighted!

  25. That looks so good! I love lamb… and ever since I moved away from Australia I haven’t had much of it. I’m going to hunt some down the next time I’m grocery shopping!

  26. Jendorf

    Yup, the only way to prepare for the baby is to prepare for the fact that you’ll be prepared for almost nothing. Approach this like a newborn yourself, ready to go with the flow and learn as you go!
    As for the meal–it looks amazing! I think I’ll make this in a few days as our final sunny, near-warm days wane into full-blown autumn here in the midwest!

  27. That has me drooling & makes me want to throw out the menu plan for the week to make this NOW. Btw, I love that mediterranean pepepr salad – I’ve made it twice! And Barefoot Contessa’s tabbouleh salad is to die for & would go PERFECTLY with this!

  28. Oh, I don’t know. The pictures look pretty good. We have the same DVR problem in our house. Tons of episodes of Barefoot and Everyday Italian. It got to the point where I had seen most of the old episodes, so I’ve switched to Tyler Florence.

  29. Kierstan

    Tzatziki is my FAVORITE! I don’t use vinegar or sour cream in mine…might have to try it. But then again, maybe not – it is dang good!

  30. JerseyGreek

    You hit the target with this recipe! Of course, I am Greek and love love love tzatziki, without the sour cream. Have to keep it authentic and you truly do not need it. Also tzatziki gets even better flavor after a day or two in the fridge. Souvlakia can be made with chicken, pork or lamb. Mmm, think I”ll be cooking gyros tomorrow!

    * Btw to keep the name of the food authentic, it is “souvlakia”, not kebabs. Kebab is the Turkish word for souvlakia, which is also found in Turkey.

  31. The pictures look fine… it’s the disposable ziploc containers, whever I forget them and see them in the pictures I cringe. Seriously, you’re due any day and you’re still cooking…. kudos. As far as getting ready… I will tell you what no one else will…. there is no ready…lol. That baby is coming and you will need to eat, you’ll figure it out based on the night. We did the pre-cooking, and I thew it all away when he was old enough for me to return to my kitchen, and hey you are lucky, you live in a great location for delivery. Even if you eat take out for two weeks straight (not that I think you would) everyone will remain healthy and happy, and before you know it you’ll be back in your kitchen with your baby bouncing happily at your feet. Best of luck

  32. AnnieM

    I will echo the others who said you will do lots of one handed eating…..If possible, freeze stuff and stock up on things that can be eaten with one hand…Pita pocket sandwiches…Mini pizza’s….. yogurt/granola….Ice cream cones…haha

  33. Kirsten

    This all looks delicious. And your off days for pictures are still so much better than so many others’ good days! I think it’s hard to make marinating meat look lovely.

    When my daughter was born last year, I had cooked a little bit in advance, but I found that all that logical, common sense stuff I had frozen did not necessarily sound good on any given day, especially in the early days of breastfeeding. I ate a ridiculous amount of granola bars not only because they’re perfect one-hand food, but because my random cravings were stronger after her birth than during the pregnancy. Except for when I gave into Spam around month 7, but really, I blame that on whoever played Cypress Hill on the radio at 4pm. Anyway, the point is that all that earnest chicken noodle soup and chili I had stowed away didn’t get eaten until the baby was 8 months old and I was cleaning out the freezer in preparation for Christmas. So I say make what you’re dying for when you have the inclination, let others feed you as much as you can ask for it, and get take-out the rest of the time. And don’t worry about doing it right. However it goes for you and your family is the perfect way for it to go.

  34. Susan’s good to know there has been a name for the cucumber salad that I’ve eaten all my life…and I’m not Greek! Lamb? I just can’t make myself eat that again..(long boring story of my youth) Baby prep? They sleep alot, I didn’t find I lacked time really, I just grumbled about the necessity of answering the call without being able to put if off. They just don’t fix themselves! What’s up with that?

  35. Oh yum! I was just swooning over perfect autumn meatloaf from Caviar and Codfish, but this makes me want summer all over again. I could live off lamb kebabs, and if I’ll ever be able to eat meat again on my college student budget, this will surely be at the top of my list. Lovely pictures of the skyline, it looks like a perfect evening.

  36. I saw this post earlier today and just HAD to try it tonight! I had to use chicken instead of lamb, but it was all very delicious. Thanks for the recipes! I posted about it but my pictures are definitely not on par with yours :)

  37. Sounds delicious! I make my Tzatziki sauce with mint leaves and red wine vinegar. Have you tried that? This is my first time posting a comment… but I truly love your blog! :) Keep the recipes coming – you are so inspiring!

  38. My neighbor and friend made delicious ground-lamb kebabs served with a couscous. I have never ventured into the world of lamb kebab. But your photographs make everything look delicious, and I just love following along, even if I am not sure I will try the recipe. Plus, I know I am not alone when I say that I am waiting to hear about the baby :)

  39. Bri

    That’s funny… After watching that episode I had to run out and buy phyllo dough to make those cursed spanikopitas! They’re really quite good, by the way. :) I was going to make the lam kebabs, but my husband loathes lamb (perhaps because of his time raising sheep for 4H and eating too much lamb growing up). Maybe I’ll make them and not tell him they’re lamb…

  40. Ina is my favorite. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I talk about her like I know her. “Well, Ina just got some of these tulips from Michael and they were fabulous…” (cue husband looking at me like I’ve grown a second head). But her recipes seriously are delicious AND easy. I think if I were her, I wouldn’t have shared the secrets. I’d just be the next Martha.

  41. ladyjojo

    Actually, the first 6 weeks or so of your baby’s life you have so much free time, as all they do is eat and sleep, nothing else (well, poo…). After they “wake up” at around 6 wks is when the trouble starts!!! enjoy your leisure time!

  42. I cooked while wearing a baby for the first 6 months, until they got too grabby at the shiny knives. My husband didn’t like me sauteeing with a baby in a front sling, but you kinda turn so the kid is angled away.

    In the very FIRST week or so, though, we counted on our friends to keep us fed. And they did.

  43. CanadaGoose

    >>Do you cook and freeze weeks worth of lasagna and enchiladas to ensure you don’t go hungry when the baby demands all of your attention? <<

    In a word: Yes.

    Make no mistake. Having to cook in the first few weeks is only slightly preferable to self-immolation.

  44. Ooooh these pictures, that list of ingredients, it’s just all making me drool. My SIL had a baby 6 weeks ago and we keep a constant rotation of food containers between our house, my MIL’s and her own parents and grandparents. Can’t find any of my lids anymore! But the baby is darn adorable. Good luck with everything! I’ve heard cookies for the nurses are the way to go.

  45. Vidya

    I was at a family gathering recently, where one of my Indian relatives made a bowl of raita like tzatziki – sour cream, super creamy yoghurt, everything. It was delicious, but oh I feel my coronaries clogging up just thinking about it. Who am I kidding, I need to make tzatziki. And eat it Indian style with a whole load of carbs.

  46. Jill

    This is totally off topic, but that is a great looking recipe to at least give a nod to the topic.
    I’ve got to say, just to prove it’s different for everyone. . . I found the first few months of infant care exhausting. Yes, he slept a lot, but he ate a lot too and I felt like I was always feeding him. The plus side is I think your body gives you the hormones to get through it. Now he’s 7 months and he’s smiling and interacting and sleeping through the night pretty well and it’s so much better.
    I wouldn’t do the freezing food unless that sounds appealing to you. We did it and are glad we did, but there’s not a lot of good take out where we are.
    I would say anything you enjoy doing, do it now b/c it may get pushed to the side or get limited time once the baby gets here. I devoured books in the last weeks of pregnancy and I still read, but only in fits and starts now.
    The thing that helped us? Paper plates, throw away utensils and cups. Not ecologically great, but nice b/c we had so much company every day and the last thing we wanted to do was dishes when we were left alone.
    It’s going to be your own experience and it is going to be wonderful!

  47. just another deb

    Your entry took me back 23 years to the 9 months when all I wanted was Greek salads! I wish you’d been around then to broaden my Greek menu – what is it about pregnancy and Greek food? – and how amazing is it to see a ‘3 years ago’ recipe – times flies (as it does in the baby relm – some days last forever but the months and years fly!) thank you and very best wishes!

  48. Selkie

    Do you HAVE to put away the grill? We grill outside all year long, in New England weather fierceness, and it tastes all the better in the winter! Not to mention catching sunsets you might not otherwise, as shoveling keeps the head down…

  49. Margaret

    Can you use Greek yogurt to marinate or is regular plain yogurt a better choice??

    One can never really prepare for a baby. Having some meals made in the freezer is good. Having everything purchased, cleaned and ready in the house is another good thing. It’s all overwhelming in a good way.

    Don’t be afraid to say “I’m tired now you need to leave” to your friends/relatives who might visit. They mean well but you need rest. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t over do it. And don’t be afraid to take the baby outside or to the mall or shopping! Staying in the house is not good for anyone!

    1. deb

      Margaret — You can use either. I think I used my regular Stoneyfield for the marinade because it seemed a bit posh to use good Greek yogurt to soak lamb in. But either would certainly work.

  50. Visiting Greece in college is what started my love affair with food! I’ve never cooked with lamb but it’s been on my mind. There’s a Greek lamb burger in Cat Cora’s cookbook that’s been in my file to try. I think I’ll try Ina’s tsatsiki with it! Hope that baby comes very soon! The waiting must be torture!

  51. Karen

    The thing to remember about having a baby is that there is no owner’s manual, you learn as you go. I expected things to go a certain way with my first, and well, they didn’t. Flexibility is key.

    Also, the one piece of equipment i tell new moms to get, no matter what, is a good sling. Most babies like to be snuggled, and it gets your hands free so you can do things like brush your teeth or get a cup of coffee. I tried several, and ended up really liking a Maya Pouch, but that was me and my baby. Any way you can wear your baby will help immensely.

    Oh, and we lived on frozen pizzas for the first month of our firstborn’s life. No lie. I was recovering from the c section (unexpected), and my husband was doing everything, and i mean everything, so it was frozen pizza all the way, baby. No shame in it at all. However, we do not live in the Land of Wonderful Takeout, so there was that.

  52. amn

    Wow. I always thought all people posting with dark names were friends or something – they seemed like they were the fewest and far between. I just realized that those are the people that DON’T have a blog linked to their name. Holy cow.

    Good luck with the baby. Those first few days are so crazy insane. I actually can’t wait to do it all over again….

  53. Don’t imagine there’s any best way to prepare. I just became an auntie in August and I couldn’t even properly prepare for that!!

    But I’m so excited for you, and all the countless hours that will be lost to “baby-daze” as you stare at your little one. Worth every minute.

  54. So I’m not the only one who developed a Greek craving in my third trimester! But at least you’re within a short walk (waddle!) or a brief cab ride of a Greek eatery. I live in a very rural Texas town, and the closest Greek restaurant is more than an hour’s drive away. I spent the last three months suffering from baklava hallucinations.

    Hey, if you have your baby this Saturday, it’ll be on my son’s 7th birthday! That would ROCK! :-)

    (Yeah, yeah, I know–just HAVING the baby would rock most awesomely right now… LOL)

  55. Mia

    I am pregnant with baby #2 and have been DYING for Greek too, especially feta cheese! I was saying to my husband last night “I really want Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables and Feta salad.” Now seeing your post, I want pita chips and tzatziki. That’s it! I’m going to the store right now! Can I justify waking up a 14-month old for a Mommy’s Cravings Grocery Store Run? I guess I’ll wait……*SIGH*

  56. ashby

    I’m preggo as well, and have also been having Greek cravings for months now. Baby loves feta. Must be something about the flavorfullyness and freshness of the food. I lived in Greece for a little while and fell head over heels for anything with tzatziki. I’ve never made it with sour cream though. Interesting.

  57. Oh my you have made me very hungry for Greek food and it is too early to want it so badly…
    Maybe baby will be here to ring in the New Year!
    L’Shana Tova…
    And all the best to you and your new family to be….

  58. karen

    What I did to prepare was when people called to ask what they could do to help us, did we need anything, etc. I told a good friend that they could bring us one dinner, either to eat that night (the baby had just been born), or to freeze. Word got around. Family and friends brought lots of food over for the first 2 weeks or so and it was so wonderful! They didn’t stay long, just a short visit to see the baby and us, dropped off the dinner, and went home. Since then (my first baby just turned 20!) my husband and I make lots and food and go for a short visit.

  59. Lindsay

    We made Ina’s tzatziki on Sunday night to go with mini lamb burgers. It was so stinkin’ good smeared in a pita with tomatoes, feta, and those little burgers. I’m using the leftovers as a dip for veggies and chips.

  60. Aside from getting all your baby stuff ready you really don’t need to prepare much else. You will be amazed and shocked at how much you love and adore this new addition to your family- I knew I would love my babies, but had no idea the depth of love I would feel. I bet friends will help out with food for a while because when the baby sleeps, you’ll want to sleep too. If not, then you do take out, or your hubby can help. Don’t get too ambitious in the kitchen. BTW- I saw Ina make tzatziki- it looked divine.

  61. YUM. I hope I have similar food cravings when I’m pregnant someday. :)

    The tzatziki recipe sounds close to the heavenly one I made all summer long: my favorite meal was to pile loads of it atop grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes) in thick pita bread.
    See here.

  62. Liz

    Here’s something I didn’t expect: when you get to the hospital in full labor, they ask you for a pee sample. So as if giving a sample while you’re 9 months preggo isn’t bad enough, now you have to do it while contracting. Loads of fun.

  63. Liz C.

    I think women who are due in the early fall, tend to feel pregnant longer than other women, since you got pregnant in winter, have pretty much been pregnant most of 2009. =) i have a friend due in a couple weeks, and everyone is like, “oh, i figured she’d already had her baby!” Anyway, hang in there…and maybe you could have guest contributors while you get back into the swing of things after baby?

  64. so, if I attempt to make this for the other half (the meat eater) do you think I could marinate some Seitan and do it the same way? so us veggies could eat alongside Daddoo as he eats his lamb?

    what do you think?

    my mouth is watering…

    and I want to tell you….I can’t cook at all, but EVERYTIME I make one of your recipes it comes out awesome.

  65. I thought you should know what a joy your blog has been to read. As someone who is just starting out with their own food blog, you provide both inspiration and motivation to keep it going. If you can make beautiful food while very pregnant, I don’t think anyone has an excuse not to get in the kitchen and cook up something delicious! Thanks for these beautiful recipes.

  66. Stephane

    I’ve watched that particular episode of Barefoot Contessa more than once –probably three or four times — and yet, have I ever made made a supper from those recipes? No! I was intimidated by the charcoal grilling portion of the process. You have inspired newfound resolve to forray into a new cooking arena. I will purchase the ingredients today! BTW, have you ever felt inclined to make her lobster pot pie; it’s intriguing and yet frightening all at the same time. She says it keeps for months in the free-zer… : )

  67. Pamela

    Looks great, but one question — is one or two days’ of marinating time too much? Will the lamb turn mushy if marinated for more than 12 hours? Russ Parsons, the resident food science geek of the LA Times, rails against marinating lamb for more than 1/2 day for that reason.

  68. Oh my goodness! I had TiVo’d those same episodes of BC and watched them the other night when I had trouble falling asleep! This past weekend my husband was treated to a Greek feast! Can’t wait to make them for a big family dinner with parents and in-laws!

  69. Debbie

    I had prepared some food for the freezer but ended up eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while breastfeeding!!
    I survived.That was 25 years ago.

  70. Great night, great lamb, beautiful sunset and good friends. Where is that baby?? it’s driving me crazy. Knowing my luck is that it will arrive on Saturday….while I’m in Vegas….which will of course complicate one anniversary with another.

  71. kathleen

    i am also pregnant and watched this episode a few weeks ago and made it that night! that barefoot contessa, she is the answer…just have her come make all your meals for the first six weeks! we can dream…

  72. Three things about cooking with a baby. First, infants are easier than babes who can move you can even wear them while doing a lot of the kitchen work (no knives or stove tops). Second, rule of thumb we use is the food should take only as long as the grain (or noodle or potato) takes to cook from putting the pot on the stove. Third, cooking is a great sanity saver during the first few months, naps may be erratic but they can be used in the kitchen, bringing your babe into the kitchen earlier the better. My son, now three helps with making meals and baking.

  73. Laura

    I LOVE Greek, and lamb. I also wanted Greek every chance I could while I was pregnant. Unfortunately, Greek restaurants are a rarity in Nevada. Most are Greek/Mexican or something weirder. I’ll have to try this recipe. As for preparing for baby, I did do some freeze ahead stuff. Mostly stews or soups. It lasted about a week. Then, my parents came to “help”. My mom took all of my Thanksgiving Turkey leftovers (yes, I’d made a Turkey with a 2 week old…they sleep a lot) and turned it into the worst casserole I’ve ever had. Love my mom, but somehow in the last 10 years living outside of her domain, I no longer love her cooking. Would have liked turkey sandwiches, but oh well, it was nice to share my new family with her grandparents. The one thing I would say is, sleep when the baby sleeps. Ours was convinced day was night and vice versa for the first week. My husband and I took turns staying up all night. She also went through a phase only sleeping if she was being held, then we figured out she would sleep with us, and she spent the next nine months sleeping in our bed. Just in the last month we’ve finally got her sleeping in her crib. Finally, the last ten months have flown by…just try to soak it up. Best of luck to you!!

  74. Ann

    Ina ROCKS! If only I could be as effortless (but not as breathless) as she is when entertaining. I think your food dilemmas oce baby arrives are rightly solved by having so much great take out options in manhattan. So just relax, and keep watching that TivO, or TV for that matter…..

  75. Gabby

    Oh my goodness. I read this post last night at 9:55 and literally ran to the grocery store to buy yeast before it closed at 10. Dough’s in the fridge and I can’t wait for dinner tonight!!

  76. I did the SAME THING with that episode! My roommate and I cleared away the dishes for Sunday brunch, settled down to watch some tv before starting Sunday dinner, and wham! I’ve been making enormous batches of the tzatziki and keeping them in the fridge to give away to people- they love it!

  77. Celeste

    Mmmm, tzatziki.

    The only preparation I can suggest is to make your plan for how to get some great food brought to you when you are still in the hospital so you can plan on never eating the hospital food, which really is that bad. Remember the scene from “Heartburn” where her friends bring her homemade rice pudding in the hospital when she has her second baby? Line it up! You will be ravenous after fasting during the birth.

  78. Babs

    Your recipes and pictures always look so delectable. Can’t wait to try this out for the family. Wishing you much happiness with your baby. Mine just turned 1 today and I have to say this has been the fastest year of my life. Its been a whirlwind of fun. Keep the camera handy for all those candid moments you are going to want to capture – those have been my most treasured pictures.

  79. Dawn in CA

    How to prepare? There is no right way. :) Do what you think is best, and then just cross your fingers and enjoy the ride. Having a baby is the most wonderful, crazy, exhausting, exhilerating thing you can imagine. I am loving the comments to this post (OMG! The pee sample during full labor the moment you walk through the hospital doors! I totally forgot about that. Good luck with that one.) My only advice is to try and remember to drink something before you get to the hospital. Those damn ice chips were no match for the massive thirst that took hold of me during labor.

    Just know that nothing prepares you for labor and birth. But no matter how it goes down (no pun intended), you’ll be just fine and so will your beautiful baby. I wish you all the best during this happy time!

  80. I ate lamb the night before both of my kids were born. I think lamb has magical properties and convinces a comfy fetus that the world is a delicious place and he or she should get out there and give it a try.

  81. the magic baker

    how funny to hear that you cleared your tivo. i spent this entire past weekend watching TWO years worth of E.R.’s…but it was worth it to see george clooney one last time as dr. ross…with nurse hathaway no less! good luck!

  82. Sally

    I made this several weeks ago – I don’t eat lamb, so subbed chicken for it – it was very good, but nowhere near as good as the kebabs in Cooks’ Illustrated Entertaining summer supplement – those were the best. Perhaps it’s because I used chicken, not lamb – these definitely got a little mealy from all of the marinating. I did use Greek yogurt… I’ve been on a total shish kebab kick this summer – made six different recipes – Cooks’ was the best!

    Good luck with your labor and delivery!

  83. Allison

    I have to agree with Cam – I know just the place she is talking about in Arlington, VA that makes the BEST Afghani kebab with this wonderful chickpea concoction that makes me crazy. Sadly, I now live in Seattle and dream of that kebab and chickpea amazingness on a regular basis. Deb – you have to hunt this one down. You won’t be sorry.

  84. I made Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (supposed to be lamb, but the store was out of it!) for my 6 & 3 year old boys. I’m a total addict for Greek food, so I was hoping it would have traveled in my genes to these Texas born & raised boys. Despite them not being lamb (which I think would have made them excellent) the spices were wonderful. Served with couscous (another first for my boys) and grilled squash (an everyday occurrence around here), they devoured the meal. And I feel vindicated in the fact that my husband’s genes are not as strong as he thinks!

  85. Christine

    Can’t wait to fire up the grill for this recipe.

    I cannot wait to see what homemade baby food recipes you come up with once the lil’ one is ready for solid foods.

  86. Dalnapen1


    You know how you have these random thoughts that pop in your head at 11:45p at night when you’re flipping channels on the late night talking heads? Well, here ’tis: in re ‘how to prepare’. What about chopping/prepping ziplocks of starters to make soup/stews/broth for after the baby debuts? I have a great feeling that you are going to breastfeed (brava!) and will need foods that hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you could prep these kinds of things that will only require you to pop in the pot and let simmer, it may be a good idea. Also, do you like tea? Perhaps it would be good to have some good, mild herbals on hand–again so you can vary what you drink. Remembering also that you will still be eating for two… You seem an uber competent person (and thank you, btw, for such a great blog), but you’ll want to really just have time to do nothing but bond with this new little person for about a month. Let the ‘perfect idyll’ ideas go and be ready to flex with what the baby, and the daddy, will need. Be assured there will be plenty of wonderful times ahead, and I’m SO excited for you (bringing my son home was analogous to a month and a half of Christmas mornings–on waking each day you are so filled with the wonder of it!). Also, there is one thing on which you can stock up before labor—rest/sleep. Try to keep this account full as you wait for the big day.

  87. Jillian

    How I LOVE Greek food!!! After eating various versions of tzatziki over the years, Ina Garten’s is my absolute favorite. The Greek yogurt from Trader Joe’s is very good. I started adding garlic to her yogurt marinade after trying it the first time.

  88. Shel

    I saw this episode last Sunday and had the same idea as you, but dived head first into the greek salad because I didn’t have overnight to wait for the kabobs. Those I’ll tackle this weekend. Salad held up pretty good the next day; just store with a little of the juice, not all. We had chicken gyro meat that we sliced and grilled and put on a pita with the salad on top. Delish! Thanks always for sharing!!

  89. I totally saw this episode, yum! I actually made tzatziki sauce and just used greek yogurt, garlic, cucumber, lemon and pepper and it was still delicious. Love the greek food!

  90. Lori

    I have not posted before, but this is my favorite food website, and I love to cook. I too have been pregnant for the past nine months, and just delivered last week. I was so sick during my pregnancy that I could not read about food, nevermind cook anything at all. That being said, I am so happy to be feeling better, and once again reading your wonderful blog (and making the cheesecake brownies)! Good luck with your delivery and happy new year.

  91. Geri

    So much to say so little time. I so enjoy your blog always something to make me drool and want whatever you are preparing. Between you and Ina it’s hard to stick to my planned menu. I want what you “gals” are making. Bring it on! When it comes to “lamb” down here in the deep south, it is not as available as beef, pork and chicken. When the store has it I want to throw my body over it to protect my selection LOL!!
    I’m not that bad but close to it. I used to be able to purchase lamb shanks they were great buys when you are stretching your food dollars. I seasoned them like other lamb cuts and slow cooked them and served them with the same tzatziki sauce, Greek salad and pita bread! It sure was a nice change of pace. In closing good luck with your new baby coming! Can’t wait to hear when the blessed event happens!
    Last thought, when I had my babies we always had a soup of the day that lasted a week and sandwiches usually accompanied it. The soup gets better and better with age. Enough said back to work!

  92. Kim

    As for food goes to prepare for baby, stock up on easy snacking food. You’d be surprised at how little time you have to eat. I took to grabbing corn tortillas out of the fridge and just downing them, uncooked. If I had an extra second, I’d throw on a slice of ham and roll it up. I love to eat, never miss a meal, and I was surprised at how many times I’d assess what I wanted to do more: sleep or eat. Most of the time it was sleep. And best wishes!

  93. Katie

    Oh Deb, I just made this. DELICIOUS!! Thanks for the recipe. Instead of the pitas, I grilled up some Naan with olive oil and salt. Wow……great way to end a long day!

  94. MK

    Hey Deb!

    I wanted to say that I made this with pork chops instead of lamb, for my lambphobic husband. We kept them whole, and grilled them on the grill. With the tatziki, roasted potatoes, and your cornbread salad.. it was such a delisious meal! (Which is nice, because I needed to do some redeeming of myself in the kitchen. Sadly my pregnancy has me less enthused to be in there these days.)

    Good luck with the lil’kiddo! And congrats, if they’re already in order!


  95. jill

    oh man, know how you feel – i had the craziest greek food cravings when pregnant with my my first 11 years ago (i’m really not that old). we frequented a place where we lived at the time called tzazikis for some killer lamb kabobs, pita and tzaziki sauce…yummy, yummy. i’ll have to make these.

  96. Erin

    oh lawdy, I am salivating. Thank you another fabulous recipe. Your dumplings (chicken &…) have made my chicken dumpling soup FAMOUS. And congratulation on your gorgeous son. I wish I was close enough to bring YOU a pot of soup.

  97. Am

    Omg! I’d forgotten just how much I love reading and making your recipes! This sounds so delish and if I wasn’t making some of your homemade pizzas tomorrow, I’d totally be making this! (Friday maybe?) Thanks so much for everything you do, it’s inspirational and yummy! Congrats on the baby! <3

  98. We have something similar in Bulgaria, but it is easier to make and no need to measure – just make it according to personal preferences. We use Bulgarian yogurt, strained so that it becomes thicker, chopped cucumber, chopped dill and crushed walnuts, and salt, of course. Mix all together and serve cooled. Great with Bulgarian rakiya – a kind of brandy, but with fruit flavour.

  99. I tried these last night! They were awesome! Served with pitas and a tomato cucumber salad. Luv Oddly enough, I love lamb but have never cooked with it myself…um, not sure if I can do that again! As tasty as these were, I think I will try it with another meat next time!xoxo

  100. KGS

    I’ve made this sauce 4 or 5 times now– yum! I’ve tried it on various things, but the grilled lamb here is really the best combination, I’ll be sticking with that from now on. If only I could find some decent store-bought pita bread to go with it…

  101. Dancer who eats

    Served the tzatziki for girl’s night. It was very good. Don’t know if it needs the complicated ingredients but it was yummy.

  102. SaraMae

    I made this last night but substitute chicken. It was so delish! I also made SK’s Mediterranean Pepper Salad. It was such a great meal! Topped it off with a simple baklava dessert. What a great Sunday dinner!

  103. This tzatziki is perfect! But perhaps you could indicate how many ounces of cucumbers we should shoot for? I’m guessing two or three of the mini hothouse ones equal one big one, but really have no idea.

  104. I made these lamb kebabs and tzatziki last night for dinner guests along with some roasted (&peeled!) red peppers and it was a HUGE hit. This is among the best tzatziki I’ve ever had (including the piles of it I sampled in Greece) and the vinegar REALLY is a nice touch. In my humble opinion, vinegar and cucumbers are a holy combination under any circumstance! For those who are wary of the marinating time, I was late getting the lamb and only marinated mine for about 5 hours and it was absolutely delicious none the less. Thank you so much for this – I was looking for a light, summer, casual dinner menu that still seemed “special” and this was just perfect. I served a chilled melon soup for desert and it completed the Mediterranean summer night theme nicely.

  105. Qing

    My friend told me about your blog and now I am hooked. :) I plan to make these and the Mediterranean pepper salad for Saturday dinner with friends. I wonder if the tzatziki’s flavor will suffer a lot if I skip dill? I like dill but hate to buy a bunch, use a little and waste the rest (which always seem to be the case in my kitchen). I wish my dill in the garden is still alive but alas the heat killed it.

    1. deb

      Eileen — The kebabs should feed 4 to 6 people. Ina says that the tzatziki serves 8, but I think that is relative.

      Qing — Definitely skip the dill if you don’t like it.

  106. Qing

    I just realized I haven’t reported back after our dinner party. Everything was delicious! The tzatziki was so good, even without dill. Thank you!

  107. Eileen (Again)

    It’s 11:17pm here in California…my mouth is watering :( OK, i got really ill before our 4th of July party and could not make these so I’m making these for a picnic this Sunday. I cannot wait!

    My main concern is finding a decent butcher or place that carries good lamb. But if not… maybe chicken would work as a substitute? Better than beef I’m gonna guess but dunno…

    QING – you can always buy dried. i know it’s not the same..but it won’t die on ya. Oh but it is like 2x as strong when dried so beware!

  108. Sara B

    I totally had the tzatziki sauce tonight with falafel! May I say it tasted like summer. Which is exactly what I need when it is suppose to snow this week…in Seattle!! It isn’t suppose to snow here (I’m a midwestern transplant and I thought I had escaped snow!). Anyway with sunset coming at 4:30pm (!) this sauce made winter a little easier to bare. I swear I haven’t totally grasped onto the idea that summer ended months ago. ^_^

  109. Michelle

    I made the tzatziki as a dip for veggies and warm pita bread. It was delicious!! I recommend making this the day before and letting it sit over night to give the flavors time to blend together. Totally worth the wait. . .YUM!

    I am becoming a culinary hero to my friends and it’s all thanks to Smitten Kitchen. I just recently discovered this website and in the couple weeks since, I have made several recipes (including home made marshmallows and pop tarts. . .who knew?!) and each is better than the next! :o) Thanks so much!!

  110. danielle

    If I was to make up the lamb in the marinade and freeze it, do you think it would turn out fine? I have never placed yogurt in the freezer but I assume it would be fine.

  111. Ria

    Great recipes, but I try to limit processed ingredients in my cooking and I really don’t like white wine vinegar and was wondering what can i replace the white wine vinegar with? lemon juice maybe?

  112. Stephanie

    Unbelievable! I gave this one a try after almost two solid years of chicken, pork, and fish — you’ve reminded me why lamb should be in my repertoire at least once a month. Thanks so much for posting this one, SmittenKitchen! I’m hooked.

  113. Melissa

    I am planning on making lamb kebabs tomorrow night and thought I would pop in and see how you like to prepare yours. Well, wouldn’t you know it, I also saw that episode of Barefoot Contessa a few years back and have been making her lamb kebabs ever since! Now that I have discovered that you’ve endoresed it, well I figure there probably isn’t a better recipe for lamb kebabs out there on the internets. :)

  114. jessica

    I made this recipe, substituting the lamb with chicken. It was amazing. Thanks again for another winning recipe smitten kitchen!

  115. Alice

    I made this recipe with a different tzatziki recipe (similar but one I had made before finding this site) and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD. My husband isn’t a big lamb fan and he devoured it. I made some hummus and tabbouleh to go with is and skewered and grilled some squash and orange bell peppers for color. Thank you for this awesome recipe and now I’m going to scour your site for more delicious recipes!

  116. Hi there!

    I’m currently marinated my lamb kabobs right now. Thank you so much for the recipe, it was incredibly easy to put together!

  117. elizabeth

    I just made this recipe and used preserved lemon in place of the lemon zest and lemon juice. They came out amazing tender and flavorful. I think this time was better than the last time even. Not one piece from over 3 lbs of lamb is left.

  118. This sounds absolutely delicious…I am always looking for new versions of kebabs. Lemon and rosemary do really well together and are the epitome of Greek food. Now with Greek food, I’ll need a Greek wine. I’m thinking a Nemea will do the trick here.

  119. Lauren

    I made a beef version of this two nights ago with the Mediterranean salad, spanikopita, and grilled pita and it was wonderful! I used proscuitto instead of phyllo for the spanikopita, and we grilled them- delicious but next time we’ll probably tune down the salt by leaving out some feta. Thanks for another amazing recipe! I love knowing that I can depend on your recipes to come out fantastic every time.

  120. I made this last night for a small party. I added pressed garlic in the marinade sauce and added fresh mint in Tzatziki instead of dill. All kebabs are gone but a lot of tzatziki left. But no problems, I will serve this sauce with a halibut tonight:)) Again, one more recipe from you I did impressed my friends:)) Thank you, Deb

  121. Popi Missios

    I make my tzatziki with yogurt only and a few drops of vinegar and some olive oil . There is no sour cream in Greece and if you find it it is a new product. If I use regular yogurt I strain it in cheesecloth or double paper towels in a coliander to extract the water.
    Leftover tzatziki is delicious on top of beets, or rice pilaf.
    Bon Appetit!!

  122. John England

    Love tzatziki abut cannot imagine it with sour cream. Good greek yogurt or at least plain yogurt strained properly will be thick enough as is.

  123. LilyBelle

    I LOVE Greek Yogurt, especially Fage!!! It is so creamy and I use it as a substitute for Sour Cream and even cream in many dishes I make, even some of my favorite Italian ones that call for cream. I also like it with fruit and my husbands favorite is with a little honey!!!! We also love Lamb, and found this recipe and plan to make it very soon!

  124. Sarah Bang

    I lived in Greece for a little while and learned how to make tzatziki side by side with a YiaYia – your recipe is pretty spot on! I’ve found that tzatziki is best if you let it sit a little while – it’s UNBELIEVABLE the next day once the garlic has mellowed a little bit.

  125. I made this yesterday with some lamb ribs. To cut some of the fat and calories I used 2% Fage and Trader Joe’s light sour cream. It turned out really great. but a lot. Next time I will half the recipe.
    I am really picky about lightening up recipes. I would rather not eat it at all than feel like I am depriving myself from the richness of a full blown recipe. I didn’t feel that way with this sauce. The dill is the key and using fresh is a must in this tzaziki sauce. Delicous eating. Thanks for sharing, and I love your beautiful photos.

  126. Sam

    The marinade was kept the lamb really juicy and the tzatziki sauce matched like a dream.I skipped although the sour cream and made it even more garlicy.
    I remember when i visited Crete they had a dish with lamb in a parchment paper that almost melted in your mouth and they called it ”Kleftiko”.Can you find that genuine recipe pls?
    And more Greek tradiotional dishes.They are far better than mousaka and pastitsio that most of us know them.
    Thank you

  127. KatieK

    Just made the Tzatziki — son wanted some and there wasn’t any premade to be bought. This came together nicely, my only comment is that it’s a bit too salty for my tastes. He’ll love it, though.

  128. Kerr

    On Friday my 4 yr old asked dad if we could have some ‘bobs. So dad asked me if we couldn’t perhaps turn that leg ‘o lamb in the frig into ‘bobs for said child. Who could turn them down? Saw your recipe and, suddenly my entire Easter menu changed. By Sunday afternoon my husband moaned and sighed through the entire meal and finally asking if this could become a yearly tradition. The kids (all six) couldn’t scarf it down fast enough, and said 4 yr old told us we needed to thank him for requesting this. I think we will still be thanking him in 30 years. Which means that we will be thanking you too for such an amazing recipe!

  129. Alexandra

    I’m making this tonight! I realized on my way home from the store I’d forgotten to get yogurt, so I improvised using about 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup of milk, 3 good glugs of olive oil, and then 3 tablespoons (all estimates) of the tzatziki sauce, whisked together. Chopped up the leaves from two sprigs of fresh rosemary and used the juice and zest of one lemon, plus the salt and pepper. I guess I was feeling improvisational vs. following a recipe strictly tonight! I’m also using a little less than 2lbs of beef instead of lamb because it just looked better at my butcher’s.

    I’m anticipating it’ll be great, but I’ll let you know if I totally messed it up! :)

  130. Alexandra

    It was a super success! On the side we had a tomato and cucumber salad dressed with a thrown together vinaigrette, rice (made with chicken broth and a healthy squeeze of lime after it finished cooking), and grilled veg (mushroom, summer squash, red onion – done separately from the kabob to control cooking time).

  131. Alexandra

    So sorry for the third comment! But just in case – I only marinated my beef in the mixture for 4 hours, tops – and you could taste it. So for those out there worried they didn’t get in front of this 24 hours before, it’s nbd!