I like to have a few dishes up my sleeve for when I am making dinner for a lot of people. This one scales very easily since most of the work is done on the grill or simply mixing the tzatziki and salad. You can do everything but the grilling and steaming of the pitas in advance so that when your guests arrive you can entertain rather than frantically cook. It also saves well for great leftovers.
To make the rub, combine 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp garlic salt, 2 tsp dried oregano, and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper in a bowl. You don’t have to make it look like a smiley face, but it’s more fun if you do.
Rub the flank steak with the paste on all sides. Some steaks prefer shiatsu, but today I went with a nice swedish.
Let that sit while you prepare the tzatziki. Tzatziki is great on almost everything. You can use it on burgers, or as a dip. The first and most important step is to drain as much water from the yogurt as possible.
Line a strainer with paper towels or a cheese cloth. Place the strainer over a bowl and then put 3 cups of plain greek yogurt in the lined strainer.
Let is sit for about 2 hours. You will be surprised at how much water comes out of the yogurt and you will probably need to change the paper towel 3 or 4 times once it is saturated. Afterwards you will have a puddle of yogurt water in the bottom of the bowl, which you are welcome to drink from a shot glass and comment on your findings.
While the yogurt is draining, prepare the other ingredients for the tzatziki. I like to use English cucumbers because they have a stronger cucumber flavor. You can tell whether you have an English cucumber by asking it a question and listening for the accent. If you can only get an American cucumber, then that is okay. It just won’t sound as witty when it speaks.
Peel and seed the cucumbers.
Dice and place in a bowl lined with paper towels. Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt over the top so that the cucumbers will release as much water as possible. Let them sit while the yogurt drains as well.
After a couple of hours, you can mix the drained yogurt, cucumbers, 6 tbsp chopped basil, 4 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional if cooking for the Irish), and juice from 1 lemon. Add salt to taste.
You can store it in the refrigerator, but let it come to room temperature before serving. This is one of those sauces that gets better the next day as well, so don’t be afraid to make it a day in advance.
Now we need to make the tomato and cucumber salad.
Slice 2 cups of grape or cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise, mince 2 garlic cloves, chop 3 tbsp of basil, dice 1 cucumber, and chop 2 tbsp of capers, and combine in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste; about 1/2 tsp of each.
Pour 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the bowl and stir thoroughly.
Let sit at room temperature while everything else is being prepared. This dish also gets better after a few hours, but do not put it in the refrigerator or the tomatoes will lose their flavor.
Finally, slice 2 red onions into rings and drizzle with olive oil. The actual oil though, not Popeye’s girlfriend.
Once your guests have arrived, you can start the grilling. Prepare the grill for high heat to get the grate very hot. Grill the steak for about 5-6 minutes per side, or to your desired temperature. But if you cook it much past medium rare, the meat will begin to dry out and get tough. Remove from the grill and allow it to rest on a plate for about 5-10 minutes. Flank steak will lose a lot of juices if you cut into it too early and you will end up with a puddle on your counter.
While the steak is resting, grill the onions.
You will see some flare-ups from the olive oil. That is okay- it makes it taste even better. Flip the onions once and be careful not to lose too many through the grate.
For final preparation, slice 3 Roma tomatoes and place on a plate with washed leaves of romaine lettuce. Steam pitas for your guests to fill with the steak, onions, tzatziki, lettuce and tomatoes.
Serve the cucumber and tomato salad on the side.