TURKEY SHAWARMA WITH GARLIC AND HERB TAHINI AND PICKLED RED CABBAGE

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TURKEY SHAWARMA WITH GARLIC AND HERB TAHINI AND PICKLED RED CABBAGE

It’s hard to find a place in Israel without a shawarma stand nearby. That’s one of Israel’s charms. As long as there’s a shawarma stand there’s good food. Shawarma, at these places, is made from marinated meat slow-roasted on a vertical spit for many hours. While the meat can be anything from lamb or beef to chicken (or combinations of anything in that range), in Israel it’s often turkey. The meat is carved off the spit in thin, wide strips and stuffed inside a flat-bread along with a variety of pickles and vegetables and with various sauces. Unless you’ve got a vertical spit hanging around, homemade shawarma has to be different. Here, I slow roast the turkey breast and serve it along with my versions of classic shawarma accompaniments. The garlic and herbs give the tahini another dimension. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4Servings

Ingredients

For the Turkey

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breasts (or 2 single 1-pound breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Poultry Shawarma Spice Blend
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed, canola, or another neutral oil

For the Garlic and Herb Tahini

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup minced fresh basil (or, better yet, lemon basil) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more if necessary)
  • 1 cup tahini paste 
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (plus more if necessary)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac (for garnish for its wonderfully tart and fruity flavor and deep color)

For Serving

  • Pickled Red Cabbage
  • 4 to 8 whole pita breads, cut in half

Preparation

TO MAKE THE TURKEY: 

Preheat the oven to 300°F. 

1. Place the turkey breasts in a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and shawarma spice blend until thoroughly combined. Massage the turkey breasts with the lemon juice–spice mixture. Ideally, vacuum seal the turkey and marinate in a sous vide bag or, failing that, place the marinated meat in a zip-top bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

2. Remove the turkey breasts from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade. Heat the grapeseed or canola oil in an oven-safe sauté pan (large enough to fit both turkey breasts) over high heat. Sear the turkey breasts on each side just until they’re browned. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F on an instant-read or meat thermometer. Remove the turkey from the pan and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices against the grain.

TO MAKE THE GARLIC AND HERB TAHINI SAUCE: 

1. While the turkey breasts roast, combine the garlic, parsley, basil, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to thoroughly combine. Add the tahini and lemon juice and purée. Add ¾ cup water through the feed tube in a steady stream to form a smooth, creamy sauce approximately the thickness of heavy cream. 

2. Taste the sauce and adjust the balance of salt and lemon juice as necessary. If the sauce is too thick, add additional water. The exact amounts of water, lemon juice, and salt will depend on the exact properties of the tahini paste. Turn the tahini sauce out into a bowl and garnish with the sumac. 

TO SERVE: 

Arrange the sliced turkey attractively on one side of a serving plate along with a pile of pickled red cabbage, little bowls of the garlic-herb tahini sauce, and the half pita rounds for diners to build their own shawarma sandwiches.

© Modern Kosherby Michael Aaron Gardiner, Rizzoli New York, 2020