Middle Eastern Meze: Tzatziki

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Tzatziki is one of those things almost everyone loves.  It’s fantastic as part of any Middle Eastern meal or even as a party appetizer with toasted pitas (with some cocktails for the grown ups).  We have also served it with grilled lamb kebabs and spiced roasted chicken.  Stacie and I made this with the kids at our Around the World Cooking Camp earlier this year and the young ones enjoyed the process and pretty much made it themselves with minimal supervision.  The trickiest part is probably grating the cucumber and the grown-ups can help with that.  We usually give the children a larger than required piece of cucumber and then watch them like a hawk.

Tzatziki is best made with Greek yoghurt, which is all the rage these days and understandably so.   Greek yoghurt is basically yoghurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yoghurt and cheese, while preserving yoghurt’s distinctive sour taste. (Source: Wikipedia).  You can make your own using coffee filters, which is fun with the kids or you can buy the best yoghurt out there.  Straus Creamery recently launched a Greek yoghurt and for us, it was an incredibly easy sell.  We adore their other products and are regular purchasers of their yummy yoghurts, ice-cream and milk.  The Greek yoghurt is a natural extension to their existing product line.  The tzatziki we made with their Greek yoghurt was smooth, rich, thick and delicious.   Plus, it’s a dairy product you can feel good about given Straus’ commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

It is high on my to-do list to visit the (happy) Straus Cows with the muchkin – given that for us they are local.  I just have to figure out how to make it happen. :)

Tzatziki – Adapted from Real Simple

 Tzatziki is a meze or appetizer, also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, usually olive oil, pepper, sometimes lemon juice, and dill or mint or parsley.  Tzatziki is always served cold. While in Turkey the dish is usually served as an accompaniment, in other places tzatziki is often served with bread (loaf or pita) as part of the first course of a meal.  We sometimes like to mix some feta cheese in our tzatziki (not a traditional addition).  If you do so, reduce the amount of salt since feta is a rather salty cheese.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (we prefer full-fat but you can use low/non-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup grated cucumber
  • small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Method

 In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, dill, cucumber, and garlic.  Season to taste

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