For us, one of the best parts of Greek food is the tzatziki. Take the gyro — equal parts sandwich and vehicle for consuming creamy, cucumber-y, dill-spiced tzatziki sauce. At home, we love serving tzatziki alongside simple, olive oil and herb-marinated grilled lamb. Tzatziki is also really good as a dip with pita bread, which is how we served it as an appetizer when we recently had friends over for a Mediterranean-inspired dinner with a different sort of lamb (Guinness-Glazed) as the main course. Our tzatziki recipe has been a bit of a work-in-progress as we tested and adapted other recipes, trying to come up with the easiest and most tasty version. Ours might not be the most authentic tzatziki out there, but it’s quick and easy to make (no draining the yogurt!) with fresh, bright and tangy flavors that are addicting.
We borrowed a tip from one of the recipes we researched — grate the cucumber. Grating the cuke seems to give just the right texture and consistency to the finished dip. Other recipes call for chopping it, but we found that yielded bigger chunks of cucumber than we preferred. A lot of recipes recommend blending the cucumber in a food processor with the other ingredients, but that made the finished dip a little too runny for our taste. Peel and de-seed the cucumber, then grate it with the large-hole side of a cheese grater.
Almost all the tzatziki recipes we’ve seen call for salting the cucumber and allowing it to drain for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours. We are generally lazy and usually don’t think that far ahead about dinner prep (especially during the week), so we tried making tzatziki without those extra steps. De-seeding the cuke seems to help reduce the moisture, and all we do is wrap the grated cucumber in a couple of paper towels, then squeeze out any excess moisture that remains. Works like a charm.
Pretty much all the other recipes also recommend draining the yogurt that serves as the base of the tzatziki. We’ve got no time for that either, so we tried using Greek yogurt (usually the Fage brand, either 0% or 2% fat content) and found that it doesn’t need to be drained at all. If there is any liquid on the top when you first open the container, just pour it off before stirring up the yogurt. Combine the yogurt and cucumbers with the other ingredients — lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, minced garlic, finely chopped mint and dill, and salt & pepper — stir it all together and you’re done. Laziness for the win! Taste and add a little more of whatever suits your preferences (we usually end up adding a bit more salt and a bit more lemon).
If you’ve already got the grill going for your protein course, throw on a couple of pitas too and grill until lightly browned on both sides.
On this particular night, we served the tzatziki with grilled lamb chops (olive oil and herb marinade recipe coming soon), pitas and tabouli for a delicious Mediterranean meal. Next time we’ll double the recipe so we can have a delicious Mediterranean snack as well.
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, any excess liquid poured off the top
- ½ an English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh dill
- salt & pepper
- Grate the cucumber with the large-hole side of a box grater. Wrap the grated cucumber in paper towels and squeeze to drain the excess moisture.
- Combine the cucumber with the remaining ingredients and stir everything together. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.