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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Hopefully at least some readers are experiencing hot summer weather right now!  Thought I'd share the (easy) recipe for a cool, tasty, summer dip:  tzatziki sauce!  This is a traditionally Greek dipping sauce that uses thick yogurt, cucumber, lemon and garlic and is ultimately refreshing.


From the ingredient list, you could probably intuitively throw this recipe together.  But there are a few tricks to it, namely controlling the water content of the dip, so I'll give you a few instructions.  My method was cobbled together from several online recipes (which all gave similar advice).

You should start making the dip maybe five or six hours ahead of when you plan to serve it.  I found the leftovers kept well refrigerated for 24 hours, so you could probably prepare it that far in advance.  It will just need a good stir before serving.

The first step is to find a good, thick plain yogurt (500 mL).  I prefer at least 2% milk fat in mine, more if I can find it.  (What makes non-fat yogurt so creamy?  It freaks me out.)  Greek-style is preferable as it is the thickest type of yogurt, but I could only find Balkan-style and it still worked well.  So, as I mentioned, you need to get rid of any excess moisture in the yogurt.  This can be accomplished using a large bowl and a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  This is my set up:

Straining yogurt

Let it stand in the fridge for a few hours.  You'll be surprised at how much water drains out!  Or maybe you won't, because I'm going to show you:

Strained yogurt

While the yogurt is straining, you can work on the cucumber.  I've read that cucumbers are 95% water.  I can't verify that, but they certainly are juicy!  I love cucumbers.  And in making this dip, I discovered I really love grating them.  Warning: prepare to get splashed!

I used the large side of a plain old box grater and grated one English cucumber, skin and all (for the colour and the nutrients).  To get rid of the excess water, just use a bit of basic science:  sprinkle the grated cuke with salt (a teaspoon or two), which will osmotically draw water out of its cells.  Give the process time to work by leaving the mixture in the fridge for an hour or so.  Next, to get rid of the moisture, drain the liquid out of the mixture, then pat it down well with some paper towels or a clean dish towel.  The cucumber shreds should look pretty limp and relatively dry.

Shredded cuke

[just-salted cuke]

From here on out, the recipe is pretty basic.  Mix the thickened yogurt with the dry cucumber, then add a clove (or more to taste) of crushed garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon, plus some zest.  Stir well.  Chill for a few hours before serving.

Kibbeh platter

[clockwise from top: whole-wheat pita bread, tzatziki, tabouleh, hummous, kibbeh]

I like tzatziki served as a dip for vegetables or whole-wheat pita bread.   On this particular occasion, though, I was hosting a Middle Eastern-style dinner, so the tzatziki was also a dressing for kibbeh, a sort of lamb meatloaf made with bulgar wheat and pinenuts and spiced with allspice and cinnamon.  I was trying to emulate the kibbeh at my favorite Lebanese restaurant.  Now that's a recipe I'd like to share with you (now that I know it will turn out well!).

Hope you find an opportunity to prepare this great dip!


Cat said...Best Blogger Tips

it is pretty hot in israel right now so when i come back from my germany holyday i will try this =)

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