Tzatziki (zat-ZEE-key) is truly summer. Oh yeah, it’s good all year long, but it runs screaming through summer. It’s nasty hot, isn’t it? So it’s time to think about cool things, like this sauce. This is great sauce to serve with Greek Salmon. I would be remiss (and The Goddess doesn’t want to be remiss), it I didn’t mention how good this is as a dip or a schmear for a sandwich or bagel. Since I’m not Greek, I have the luxury of adding some things without the “traditional” moniker interfering with my culinary thought process. I know this will be heresy to those of you who may hark back to that wonderful, ancient culture. You’ll have to deal with it and move on…sorry. I’m about tough love and it’s hot outside. Really hot and The Goddess does not deal well with the heat.
You want good, thick yogurt. If you have access to a Middle Eastern market, then see if you can find labneh. Think Greek yogurt on steroids. It’s thick, rich and wonderful. I don’t find it has a much tang as yogurt, but that could be just me. I drain regular and Greek-yogurt. Simply line a strainer with a coffee filter (they’re packed away, so it was paper towelling to the rescue!), place it over a container and plop the yogurt into the strainer, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Greek-style yogurt will only take a couple of hours. I had regular and drained it for about 12 hours. About 1 1/2 cups of whey (or water) drained out.
Also, I like to dice the veggies, rather than grating them. I like the texture, but if you prefer, grate away! You’ll notice that I add a couple of unconventional things. The Goddess, as you know all too well, tends toward the unconventional. It’s sort of thing with her. Please overlook it.
Anyway, this is the version I tend to make. I like it really thick, so I drain the Greek-style yogurt. I use labneh, as is. It’s thicker than yogurt, even drained yogurt.
- 1 large English cucumber (see NOTE)
- Kosher salt, as needed
- 4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 cups Greek-style yogurt or labneh
- 4 radishes, finely chopped or grated
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional—but it’s a great addition)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dillweed
- 2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
- 1-2 teaspoons finely minced fresh marjoram (optional)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper as needed
- 1-2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)
- Ground sumac for garnish
Finely chop or grate the cucumber into a mixing bowl using medium-sized holes on a box grater. Add a couple of pinches of salt; transfer to a colander lined with cheesecloth (or a coffee filter). Place colander over a bowl; drain for about 15-30 minutes. Squeeze to extract remaining juice. Transfer cucumber to mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Refrigerate overnight.
NOTE: I like to drain 4 cups of yogurt in a strainer for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. This removes water and thickens the mixture further. This is also good with some Aleppo pepper flakes added. Though not at all traditional, I add 3-4 finely minced radishes to the mixture. They do not need to be salted. Season with salt as needed, but I rarely think you need to add salt, as the cucumber retain some of the salt and the feta tends to be rather salty. I used three Persian cucumbers in this.
Tzatziki Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
I try to keep a container of this in the fridge for most of the summer; it will keep well for at least a week. I love this on a baked potato, smeared on a bagel with some smoked salmon, poured over simple grilled fish or chicken, with a spoon leaning up against the fridge. On anything really. If you make falafel, scrap the tahini and pour this into the pita instead. There’ll be no going back!
I serve this along side of Greek Salmon. It was a simpatico arrangement!