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Tzatziki is a cool and tangy cucumber and yogurt sauce that most people associate with Greek food. And it’s a typical condiment served on Greek gyros, so that’s understandable.
We find our fresh-made tzatziki is even more versatile. It can serve as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise in potato and pasta salads, adding fresh brightness to these dishes. We use it also as a fresh side to meat dishes, or even standalone as a dip with chips or pita bread.
Tzatziki is a popular side dish in countries throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is a regular part of a traditional mezze (or appetizer) platter. It even has a close cousin in Raita, which is ubiquitous in India.
Each regional recipe for tzatziki has their own twists. A variety of different fresh or dried herbs are often used. Some use vinegar instead of lemon juice, or add additional ingredients such as carrots or even chunks of bread. In the Balkans, a cold variation is served as a soup.
What type of Yogurt should be used?
Tzatziki is most often made with yogurt from sheep or goat milk, but this can be hard to find outside of regions like Greece. We use unsweetened, unflavored Greek yogurt in this recipe, and it works great. You can use full-fat yogurt for a rich sauce, or try a low fat or non-fat for a healthier option.
Which herbs should you use in Tzatziki?
Traditionally, tzatziki sauce is made with mint, dill or parsley. Some recipes mix it up and cilantro, as well.
We use fresh mint in this recipe, and think the sweetness in the mint adds a unique and delicious flavor.
While you can use dry ingredients, you’ll get much better results with fresh herbs.
You don’t want a watery Tzatziki
The key to making flavorful tzatziki sauce is to prevent it from being watered down. You want the individual elements of the yogurt, lemon, garlic and herbs to all stand out.
The problem with this is that cucumber, which is a critical ingredient, is mostly comprised of water! We use two methods to reduce the water content in the cucumber.
First, after seeding and shredding the cucumber, we squeeze out as much of the water as possible. This can be done just by taking a handful of the shredded cucumber and crushing it in your fist over the sink. The cucumber can also be squeezed using a kitchen towel.
Next, we spread the cucumber on a plate and generously salt it, and put it (uncovered) in the refrigerator for an hour or so. The salt and the dehumidification in the fridge will dry out the cucumber (and intensify the flavor).
- 1 Medium sized cucumber
- 1 Cup (285 g) of Greek yogurt (unsweetened, unflavored)
- 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- One handful of Fresh Mint, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Peel cucumber using a vegetable peeler
- Cut cucumber in half, long-wise
- Use a teaspoon to scoop out all the seeds - discard
- Using a hand grater or food processor, grate the cucumber
- Remove as much water as possible from the grated cucumber - the easiest way to do this is to squeeze handfuls of the cucumber over the sink. Wring out as much liquid is possible. To further remove liquid, add salt to the grated cucumber and place it (uncovered) in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Combine all ingredients.
- Refrigerate, covered, for one hour.
- Serve with Pita bread, or as a side.
Amount Per Serving Calories 76Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 2mgSodium 115mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 5g