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Homemade Tzatziki

March 3, 2009

Homemade Tzatziki

Sometimes I crave foods other than chocolate. I know, hard to believe! But true.

During the winter I’m usually all about comfort foods. Anything that will make my insides feel warm and cozy, like stew, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese and … uh oh, I’m getting hungry! But now that we’re approaching March, I’m getting tired of the cold and I’m craving something more summery. Something light and refreshing.

Something like tzatziki!

I should start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about Greek food. My mom’s side of the family is all Italian and since she did most of the cooking growing up, it’s the cuisine that I’m most familiar with. I don’t think I was ever even exposed to Greek food until I got to college.

A few years ago I discovered the deliciousness that is tzatziki (pronounced dza-DZEE-kee) and I’ve been obsessed ever since. If you’ve ever had a gyro, chances are you’ve tasted tzatziki before. This batch was super easy to make at home using the recipe below and is just as good as the store bought kinds I’ve had, if not better.  I like to eat tzatziki like a dip with pita bread, carrots, red pepper strips, or sometimes just a spoon (it’s that good!).

Homemade Tzatziki

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)
Makes 3 ½ cups
(Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)

3 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained as described)
Juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

(If using regular plain yogurt, strain for several hours to remove the liquid and thicken the yogurt. This can be done using two coffee filters inside a colander, which is placed inside a bowl to catch the liquid, or an inexpensive mesh yogurt strainer. Let the yogurt drain on the counter for 2 hours, or until it reaches the thickness you want.)

Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds.

Dice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T kosher salt and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. (If you don’t have a food processor, like me,  just dice the cucumbers, garlic and dill finely and combine in a bowl with the other ingredients. This also works if you just prefer chunkier tzatziki.)

Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important!)

This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

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