The other day while flying around like a maniac, a craving hit me for tzatziki like no other. When we lived in Chicago, this little craving of mine would have been easily settled. Living here? In a small town in the Pacific Northwest? Not so easy.
But making tzatziki *IS* easy! No worries.
But first, what is tzatziki? Tzatziki (click here to listen to its pronounciation) is a cool, refreshing Greek yogurt dip made with greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, and parsley. (Or cilantro, if you’re desperate. Ahem.) It is served with traditional appetizers and used to top grilled meats, gyros, etc or served with pita slices for dipping. (We use the lavash bread recipe for this. Make one lavash recipe and bake. After baking, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Return to the oven and bake an addition 3-5 minutes. Cut in to strips. Ta-dah! Dipping bread.)
Tzatziki is also a great dip for cut veggies or as a topping to your canned tuna (or salmon or eggs, etc) in lieu of mayo or salad dressing. Or try serving it with some GF pretzels. Or along side some carrots, celery, cauliflower, brocolli, red pepper strips, etc and you will be in heaven.
We made some grilled chicken sandwiches (using the lavash for the sandwich bread) and served it along with the cut vegetables. The only problem with this meal? I think I need to recreate it again soon. It was too good!
And just this weekend we made potato salad (small red potatoes, cut into quarters and roasted with salt/pepper and a little olive oil) with this tzatziki as the dressing. Just potatoes, some sweet onions (chopped and roasted too) and tossed in this dressing. It was delicious and the dressing is NON-fat! It was the perfect accompaniment to the Maple-planked salmon.
My friend, Nick, gave me his family recipe almost 12 years ago. The only thing I didn’t differently was use traditional cucumbers instead of the English cucumbers that Nick uses. I’ve made this recipe with both kinds without any problems. I just happened to have the regular cucumbers on hand. Thank goodness for this recipe – it’s traveled through many adventures with me, but has always tugged at my memory strings at the perfect time. I love opening my recipe book and seeing Nick’s hand-written notes.
I hope his recipe brings you some refreshing tastes as well.
1 large English cucumber (or the equivalent in traditional cucumbers), peeled and seeded.
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt or drained plain yogurt (using plain yogurt makes a thinner tzatziki)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced (adjust to 2-5 cloves for taste)
black pepper (or white pepper, for color’s sake) to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves**
2 Tablespoons dried mint**
(**A non-traditional substitute that is complete UNorthodox for the parsley and mint is 1/3 cup chopped cilantro. I’ve used it in a pinch when I haven’t had the other two on hand and have enjoyed the tzatziki equally if not more. And no one has ever noticed my switch… well, none of my non-Greek buddies, anyway. I’m sure Nick would bust me on it. LOL)
- Slice cucumber into 1/4 ” or 1/2″ disks then quarter. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside (in the refrigerator) for one hour.
- After time has elapsed, drain the cucumbers and pat/squeeze between paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. (Some people quickly rinse the salt off the cucumbers at this stage…it’s up to you. The goal is NOT to add moisture back in to the cucumbers – so rinsing is rather counter-productive. You will need to use many more paper towels to get the cucumbers dry again.)
- Combine yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, parsley and mint. Add cucumber quarters. Stir together well.
- Cover and refrigerate to combine flavors fully. Stir again before using or serving.
Tzatziki doesn’t last very long in this house with its wide variety of uses. Keep it covered in the refrigerator and it should last 4-5 days or more. Ours lasts about 2-3 before it’s gone.
Happy cucumber shopping, all!