Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cool as a Cucumber - Tzatziki

I have never liked yogurt - until I went to Greece. Greek yogurt changed my life. It has more protein than regular yogurt, and a thick creamy consistency, and if you even begin to question the validity of probiotics (especially when traveling) you should just enter that into the search engine of your choice and prepare to be amazed.
It wasn't the plastic container of sour creme looking white stuff that changed my mind, it was the Tzatziki - that they served with EVERYTHING! Something about the warmth of the sea air and the coolness of the yogurt and cucumber.  Did I mention that they often served it with french fries cooked in olive oil?  Yep.  That.  
So, now, I make my own, and in the summertime there is always some around.  
I went to the farmer's market this weekend, and found some very early fresh cucumbers and needless to say Tzatziki was the first thing on the agenda. A long time friend asked for the recipe and I thought I'd share it with y'all as well!


1 Cup Greek Yogurt 
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (You can use Greek Yogurt here too, but a little SC adds a creaminess)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Small Cucumber 
1 Scallion Chopped (Optional)
1 small clove garlic, minced (Optional)
Dill Weed
1 T Lemon Juice or White Wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Partially peel the cucumber and cut off one end (it will help with not grating your fingers off to have an end to work with)
If you have "gastro" issues with cucumbers - cut the cucumber in half and remove the seeds from the middle with a spoon.  This will cut down on the "gastro" reaction, I'm just gonna leave it at that.
Grate the cucumber on a cheese/box grater onto several layers of paper towels
Spread the cucumber out over the paper towels, and sprinkle with a small amount of salt & allow to sit for about 10 minutes. (This is called "sweating" and it will pull water from the cucumbers so that your Tzatziki doesn't wind up thin and wimpy, most often this is done with squash, eggplant, and cucumbers and makes a huge difference)
In the meantime mix the Greek Yogurt, Sour Cream, Chopped Scallion, Garlic, Dill Weed, and Lemon Juice together in a bowl.  Then stir in the grated cucumber.  
Adjust the additions (salt, pepper, dill, garlic, scallion, lemon) to your taste. If you want to be very fancy, stir in some lemon zest.  
Now, if you haven't eaten it all (I usually double this recipe) put it in the refrigerator for about an hour. This keeps several days in a well sealed container and gets nothing but better as the flavors meld.  
Serve with chopped crudités, or pita chips, or (if you want to pretend you are in Greece) Olive oil french fries.  

SCIENCE/BEAUTY NOTE - Ever wondered about the astringent properties of cucumber? After adding the cucumbers to the Tzatziki, fold the paper towel in half so that the sides with the salt/cucumber on them are touching (you don't want the salt part to touch your skin) and wipe a small part of your skin with the "cucumber extract". It is cool and refreshing. (Don't do this if you are allergic to cucumber, and be sure to rinse it off)

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