Tzatziki

Do you  have a favorite recipe for Tzatziki? Every time I make it I am amazed at how good it is and wonder why I don't make it more often. It's so simple. And with our grills in full swing, we couldn't have a more flavorful accompaniment. Tzatziki (pronounced tsah-ZEE-kee) is a traditional Greek dish, which can be part of a mezze platter (a selection of Greek and middle-eastern small dishes served in "mezze" portions like tapas. ), served as a condiment or used as an appetizer. I most often serve it with toasted whole wheat pita chips as an appetizer, but it's a great sauce for grilled lamb or chicken, also divine on all kinds of meat and fish burgers.

Basically, the mixture combines yogurt and cucumbers with plenty of garlic and some chopped fresh herbs. English cucumbers (the kind that are shrink-wrapped at the grocery store) work best because they have few seeds, but you can use other cukes. Just be sure to slice them in half and seed them. Everyone has a different way to prepare the cucumber; I grate mine on a box grater and then twist them in a dish towel to get a little more juice out. I use Fage brand yogurt and place it in a sieve lined with gauze, over a glass bowl, covered, overnight. Please use Greek yogurt because regular yogurt will be too runny. I use both mint and dill in my Tzatziki and instead of lemon juice, I use champagne vinegar. But  lemon juice is fine and what is used in most recipes.

My recipe comes from my dear friend Nancy, who passed away a number of years ago. I think of her every time I make it. She loved the Greek Islands, which is where she said she got the recipe. The only change I have made over the years was adding champagne vinegar. Nancy used lemon juice. But I saw Ina Garten make it with champagne vinegar once and I tried it. I liked it even better...it was tangier.


Nancy's Tzatziki




Ingredients:
1 17oz. container Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1 English cucumber (I don't bother to seed this kind)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced dill
1 heaping tablespoon minced mint
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Place the yogurt in a gauze or paper towel-lined sieve. Let stand, covered, overnight in the fridge. The next morning, grate the cucumber on a box grater. Dump it in a tea towel and twist to get some of the juice out. Add to the yogurt and then add the remaining ingredients.
Keep chilled until ready to serve. I serve it with pita chips.

Toasted Pita Chips
Preheat oven to 400°.Use 4 or 5 rounds of whole wheat pita, cut with scissors into triangles. Lightly brush both sides with olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and bake in the oven until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully as all ovens are different.