Tzatziki is best known as the cool and creamy sauce that is served with Greek gyros. But it can also be used as a dip for pita bread, chips or raw vegetables.
I first tried to make this after we ate at a Greek restaurant and it was served as an appetizer with pita bread. Unfortunately, it was so good that by the time my meal came, I was full. I not only enjoyed the flavor, but also how it cool and light it tasted. I knew that I would have to try to make this at our next party instead of traditional vegetable dip. I experimented with a couple of recipes, and came up with a combination that allows for that burst of flavor in a cool and subtle way.
The key is not make the sauce too thick or thin. Some helpful hints that I have learned along the way — If you are using standard garden cucumbers make sure you remove the seeds and remove the water by salting them — Greek yogurt is easy to find in standard grocery stores but you can substitute sour cream if you were in a pinch. You could also substitute standard yogurt if you drain it, but it’s much quicker to run to the store to get Greek yogurt than to go through the draining process.
Some people prefer the dill over the mint, and vice versa. Experiment with the taste and adjust accordingly. Personally, I like both flavors, as they emerge at different times in your mouth. However you decide to make it your own, it is a nice alternative to traditional dips and it is an excellent condiment to add to any sandwich.
Cucumber Vegetable Dip (Tzatziki Sauce) Recipe
*makes approximately 3 1/2 cups – serves a large party
3 cups Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 3 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large cucumber – preferably English version
1 tablespoon salt (for salting cucumbers)
1 tablespoon fresh dill and/or 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped (depending on preference)
salt and black pepper to taste
1. Peel cucumber, remove seeds and dice.
2. Place diced cucumber into a colander and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt to draw the water out. Place a plate directly on top of the cucumbers and place something heavy on top. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Drain well and wipe cucumbers dry with a paper towel.
3. In food processor or blender, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, mint, and black pepper . Process until well blended, then stir into yogurt. Taste and add salt if desired.
**Cover and cool in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. Drain off any excess liquid and serve.
Mary and Jim