Weeknight Cooking

Walnut-Lentil Gyros with Spiced Yogurt

May 31, 2017
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Let's break down this walnut-lentil gyro (which, since it gladly forgoes the spit-roasted meat, is more gyro-inspired than gyro-compliant):

- Walnut-lentil crumble: toasty walnuts are complemented by cooked lentils that have been sautéed at high heat so that they pop and crisp (a technique borrowed from Mark Bittman by way of Amanda Hesser), and everything is spiced with za'atar and cumin
- Flatbread: on sandwich bread, this dish would be an architectural nightmare (imagine lentils in your pants pockets); instead, a flexible flatbread (or a pita) helps keep the wriggly walnuts and lentils contained
- Spiced yogurt sauce: seasoned with lemon juice, za'atar, cumin, and garlic, it acts like glue, adhering the other components to the bread below
- Hummus: if you have it in the fridge, it adds creaminess (and protein)
- The fresh/sharp/vegetal accessories: arugula, pickled vegetables (I liked pickled beets, carrots, or onions), roasted red peppers

In the end, you have a complete meal that delivers the same satisfaction as a falafel-stuffed pita and as a roast beef sandwich, but that takes less time than either.

Feel free to swap the hummus for baba ghanouj (if you're using it at all); skip the arugula with a smattering of torn parsley and cilantro; replace lemon with lime; add grilled zucchini instead of roasted peppers; or forgo the sandwich altogether because you've eaten the walnut-lentil crumble with the serving spoon. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the spiced yogurt:
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon za'atar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the walnut-lentil crumble and assembly:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 cup cooked green lentils
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon za'atar
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • salt
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lemon (you can use the last of the lemon from above!)
  • flatbreads
  • hummus
  • 2 cups arugula
  • roasted red peppers, sliced
  • pickled beets, carrots, or onions (optional)
  1. To make the spiced yogurt, mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to your like.
  2. To make the crumble, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, reduce the heat to low, add sliced garlic and jalapeño, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked lentils to the pan along with the cumin and za’atar. Season with salt and stir to coat. Turn the heat back up to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and popping, 5 to 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-high, add the walnuts and the additional 2 teaspoons oil, and stir to coat. Cook for a minute or two more, until the walnuts are incorporated and warmed through. Add the parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir to combine.
  3. To assemble, spread a flatbread with hummus, if using, then smear with the spiced yogurt. Top with a handful of arugula, sliced roasted red peppers, and any pickles of your choosing. Spoon the walnut-lentil crumble over top. Fold up and eat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Margaret Dodd Thomas
    Margaret Dodd Thomas
  • susan g
    susan g
  • Cheryl
  • Deedledum

4 Reviews

Margaret D. August 25, 2018
These were so great! We subbed dairy free yogurt for Greek to make them vegan and it still had plenty of flavor depth. Def make the pickled onions to go with. Superb recipe all around-- a keeper!
susan G. July 17, 2017
Why doesn't this show up by searching 'gyro'?
Cheryl June 23, 2017
This was a bit of work, but definitely worth it! Recommend a double batch. I made vegan "cashew creme fraiche" to sub for the yogurt. I would up the quantity of sauce. I burned the first batch of lentils waiting for them to "pop", which they never did. Second time I just let them brown a bit. I learned from the first burnt batch of lentils and added in the garlic and jalapeno when the lentils were almost cooked in the frying pan. They got too cooked in the first burnt batch. I used pre-made pickled beets and made my own sugar-free pickled onions. Used pre-made hummus. This got a rave review by my friend. She was the one who suggested putting a little virgin olive oil on top of the lentil crumble on the pita and she was right. It really brought out the flavors. Really delicious. Thank you!
Deedledum June 16, 2017
Looking forward to these