Vegetarian Lentil Gyros

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Vegetarian Lentil GyrosGyros are one of our ultimate sandwiches—spiced, juicy lamb strips stuffed in a pita with a creamy yogurt sauce. Naturally, they tasted even better in the warm ocean breeze of the Greek isles. After returning home, Alex had the crazy idea of creating a meatless gyro using lentils. Though it’s not as juicy as lamb, this lentil-based version gets pretty close, especially since the heart of gyros are the toppings and sauce. Lentil gyros even have a few improvements over the traditional—they’re lighter, nutrient dense, and far cheaper to make. We like to wrap the pita bread in aluminum foil like at a street gyros vendor (and, it makes them easier to eat). For a Greek dinner party, make the gyros and invite friends to bring the following sides: Red Pepper Tabbouleh (here), Creamy Artichoke Hummus (here), Layered Mediterranean Hummus Platter (here), Baked Pita Crisps (here), Rosemary Olives with Lemon Zest (here), and Classic Greek Salad (here).

  • Yield: 8 Servings


  • 1½ cups green lentils
  • 8 medium garlic cloves
  • 4 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • Yogurt Dill Sauce (here)*
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 romaine heart
  • 1 tomato
  • 8 pita breads or flatbreads
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Make the gyros: In a saucepan, combine the lentils with 3½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs. Place both in the bowl of a large food processor and process for a few seconds until minced. Brush any dirt from the mushrooms; add them to the bowl and pulse several times until chopped. Mix together the oregano, thyme, cumin, paprika, coriander, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil; add the mushroom mixture and sauté for about 4 minutes until tender. Stir in spices and sauté for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Rinse out the bowl of the food processor.
  4. When the lentils are done, add the lentils, mushroom mixture, oats, and kosher salt to the food processor and pulse a few times until crumbly. Add the eggs and pulse a few times until fully combined but not puréed.
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and grease the inside of the rim. Spread the lentil mixture about ½ inch thick, filling a little over half of the sheet. Slice the butter into thin pats and evenly space them on top of the lentils. Bake 30 minutes, until browned. Remove the baked lentils from the oven and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Then slide the parchment out onto a cutting board and carefully slice the lentils into 48 rectangular pieces, each about 3 inches long and ¾ inch wide. Prepare the toppings: While the gyros bake, make the Yogurt Dill Sauce (here). Peel and thinly slice the red onion and rinse it under cold water to mellow the sharp taste. Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Chop the romaine. Dice the tomato.
  6. Warm the pita bread: Once the oven is turned off after the lentils roast, place the pita breads inside the still warm oven for about 2 minutes until pliable, then place them on a plate under a towel until ready to serve.
  7. To serve, place a few slices of the gyros on the pita bread; top with vegetables and add liberal dollops of Yogurt Dill Sauce to coat the gyros and veggies. Fold the pita around the filling like a taco and wrap the end with aluminum foil. Serve with extra sauce for dolloping.

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