So many recipes and foods are just better in hot weather. Ice cream of course. Lemonade. Fresh seasonal tomatoes, melon, peaches, corn, and … tzatziki. Tzatziki is not a seasonal fruit. It’s a delightful mixture of cucumbers, yogurt, garlic and mint. On my recent trip to Greece, tzatziki was available at all meals and as an appetizer.
Besides being delicious and refreshing, tzatziki is high protein with significant calcium. Because it’s made with yogurt, it has beneficial probiotic bacteria. The key is to use fresh ingredients. Yogurt and cucumbers are essential. I grow cucumbers every year with tzatziki in mind.
I use whole milk yogurt, for a richer flavor. You can use low fat yogurt for more protein. Optionally, you can mix 1-2 TB of olive oil into the tzatziki for a rich flavor. Let the tzatziki sit in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the flavors blend and mellow before serving.
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
- 1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
- 2-3 tsp fresh minced garlic
- 1-2 TB minced fresh mint or combination of other fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, cilantro or fresh oregano.
- salt to taste
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Optional: 1 TB extra virgin olive oil.
- Step 1 Grate the cucumber into a sieve and sprinkle with salt. Let sit over a bowl as the cucumber liquid drains off, for 1-2 hours. You might get 1/4 cup of liquid.
- Step 2 Mix the drained cucumbers, yogurt, herbs, garlic, lemon juice and salt to taste.
- Step 3 Cover and refrigerate forf 2-4 hours so the flavors improve.
What to do with tzatziki
Tzatziki can be eaten as a high protein snack or as part of a summer meal. The intense flavor pairs well with milder flavors.
- Dip or topping for other fresh summer vegetables. Dip with spears of raw zucchini, carrots, celery, sweet peppers, broccoli or cauliflower.
- Top slices of fresh tomato, grilled sweet onion or grilled eggplant.
- Dip with flat bread, pita or crackers.
- Roll a tortilla with tzatziki and chopped fresh vegetables. Add garbanzo beans for added flavor and protein.
- Use a burger topping. Great on lamb burgers.
- Use on a vegetable-heavy sandwich: tzatziki, tomatoes, lettuce/greens, grated carrots, thin slices of red onion.
- Eat is straight with a spoon
Put together a simple vegetarian hot weather supper of tzatziki with a platter of sliced summer vegetables, pita bread or other flat bread, corn on the cob and a bean salad.