Tzatziki- Greek Yogurt Dip

Tzatziki, pronounced, “tsah-ZEE-kee,” is a delectable accompaniment to practically every meal, well, except maybe breakfast. Although, I’m sure that someone might find a way to incorporate it into their morning meal routine. This thickened yogurt-cucumber dip originates from Greece, where it is served for lunch and dinner, much like an appetizer, and is eaten with chunks of bread, alone with a fork, and as a complementing addition to the main meal. Tzatziki recipes alter slightly from region to region in Greece. I have to admit that the most delicious version of tzatziki that ever passed through my lips was from Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, located in the north of the country and famous for producing some of the very best cuisine in all of Greece. (Just don’t tell the Athenians I told you so.) The cucumbers seemed to be pickled so very slightly, giving the dip yet another irresistible dimension of flavor.

Tzatziki is relatively simple to make and is always a welcome addition to a dinner party’s menu. I tend to offer it to my guests before dinner is served, with crackers or bread, and then I leave it on the dinner table so my guests have the opportunity to sample it once again with their main meal. It is also delicious used as a dip for crudité. My 2-year-old daughter could finish off half a bowl of the stuff with literally three pieces of bell pepper. So as long as you don’t mind the “double dipping” that will ensue, freely offer it to your children. On second thought, maybe just give them a bowl of their own.

2 c. thickened yogurt
2 small Turkish cucumbers, peeled and grated
1 Tbl. red wine vinegar
2 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, put through a garlic press
1-2 Tbl. fresh dill, finely chopped
salt, pepper to taste

Grate the peeled cucumbers, either into a fine mesh sieve, or into a piece of cheesecloth. You want to remove as much water as possible from the cucumbers before you add it to the yogurt. Allow the cucumbers to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine the yogurt, pressed garlic, and dill into a small mixing bowl. If you placed your cucumber into a fine sieve, push the grated cucumber down into the mesh with a paper towel, removing as much moisture as possible. If using the cheesecloth method, which does work more efficiently, gather up the ends of the cheesecloth around the cucumber, forming a ball. While holding the cloth ends with one hand, twist the ball tighter and tighter while squeezing. The excess moisture will drain out from the ball. Once you have removed as much moisture as possible, scrape the grated cucumber into the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and as much salt and pepper as your palate calls for. It’s best to make tzatziki in advance, allowing the flavors to meld together. So either prepare this dish in the morning and store it in the refrigerator until dinner, or better yet, prepare it the day before you plan on eating it.

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