Tzatziki is an awesome Middle Eastern mezze that compliments many dishes. It’s a fragrant and luscious dip-slash-condiment-slash-sauce. The Greeks put it on lamb gyros (not kosher, but tasty!). I usually serve it with meatless meals or as an accompaniment to fish. Tzatziki goes great with flatbread, pita bread, falafel, grilled veggies, stuffed grape leaves, grilled fish, or as a fresh vegetable dip. There are many, many more possibilities. It adds a lot of flavor to whatever you put it on, and it’s really healthy too! Healthy and yummy? You bet!
Tzatziki is often served with a sort of soupy texture– runny, if you will. That’s not the way I like it. Nope, I need a tzatziki with texture… something so thick and rich that you can eat it with a fork. What the secret to creating the perfect tzatziki texture? Strained yogurt! In yesterday’s blog, I shared the technique of how to strain yogurt to make thickened Greek yogurt and labneh. You’ll use the technique when you make this tzatizi. See? There’s a method to my madness.
I usually start the process with Greek yogurt, since it takes less time to strain than regular yogurt. If you’ve got the time, you can use plain yogurt, but you’ll need to strain it for 14-15 hours to get the thickened texture you’ll need for my tzatziki.
Make sure you use fresh herbs and lemon juice. I like using Persian cucumbers (the small, thin ones) in this dish because they have a nice flavor and they don’t have many seeds. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, you may substitute English cucumbers—those are the long thin ones wrapped tightly in plastic. Avoid using regular fat cucumbers, they are coated with wax and prone to bitterness. Nobody wants a bitter tzatziki. Finally, if you’re a garlic fiend you can totally add more than the recipe calls for. I’m sensitive to garlic, so I don’t add very much, but this dip could easily stand 2 more cloves.
This dish is vegetarian, gluten free, heart healthy, high protein, low carb, lowfat, and totally delicious. Enjoy!
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- 1 1/2 cups plain lowfat Greek yogurt
- 1 lb Persian or English cucumbers, peeled and seeded
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint or dill
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (or more to taste)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
- Fresh mint sprig for garnish (optional)
You will also need
- Cheesecloth or clean dishtowel, colander, bowl
- Strain the Greek yogurt for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. If you'd prefer to use plain yogurt and not Greek, you'll need to strain it for 14-15 hours to get the right consistency. If you don't know how to strain yogurt, you can find instructions here: How to Strain Yogurt
- Pulse the cucumbers in the food processor or hand chop to desired texture. I like them chopped small, but not minced. Bigger chunks will result in chunkier tzatziki. It’s a matter of preference. You can also grate them, if you prefer.
- Cut out an 18-inch rectangle of cheesecloth and fold into two layers. Place chopped cucumbers in the center of the double-layered cloth. Gather up the cheesecloth and twist at the top to form a bundle. Squeeze the bundle several times over the sink, twisting the bundle tightly to get rid of as much liquid as possible. If you don't have cheesecloth, use a thin dishtowel instead.
- Place strained yogurt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the drained cucumber pieces from the cheesecloth to the bowl along with the olive oil, chopped fresh mint or dill, crushed garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
- Use a fork or whisk to blend the ingredients together. Taste the tzatziki; add more garlic, lemon juice, or salt to taste if desired. Serve cold. Store in the refrigerator.