Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tzatziki for Katie

My friend Katie has a rather awesome garden where cucumbers proliferate and grow to mutant proportions. Being the generous soul she is, my fridge is well-stocked with free cukes. However, since Katie is a shrewd business woman, the cucumber transaction required that I reveal my secrets to consistently good tasting tzatziki. So, Katie, this recipe is for you! It was challenging for me to put this recipe into standard measurements, but here I go:
                                          Katie's Cukes are covered with little spines. Ouch!

Tzatziki (Cucumber Dip) (makes ~3 1/2 Cups)
  • 2 large cukes
  • 2 1/2 C Greek yogurt (Don't use fat free. Seriously.)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1/2-1 lemon
  • small handful of dill, chopped (I have the hands of a 10 year old, so keep this in mind)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper (some prefer white pepper, for aesthetics. I simply prefer the flavor of black pepper)
1. Peel the cukes and remove seeds. I find that a grapefruit spoon works well to scoop out the seeds. 
2. Grate the cukes. I find once they're seeded, they're flimsy, and it's difficult to grate the entire thing without putting your knuckles in "grate" danger. Nobody wants blood in their tzatziki, so before grating becomes hazardous, keep the odd bits of cukes and set aside. Once done grating, cut into small, small pieces and just say that your tzatziki is "rustic style".
3. Set the cucumbers in a colander in the sink. Generously sprinkle with salt. Let the cukes drain for 30 mins or so. Go do something else.
4. Rinse the cucumbers. Grab several clean, lint free tea towels, cheesecloths, or cloth napkins. Place a handful of the cukes in the cloth, wring out the cloth to remove as much of the liquid as possible from the cukes. The grated cukes will feel vaguely sticky, without much moisture. Put the wrung out cukes in a bowl. 
5. Mix together the cukes and yogurt with a fork. Stir in the dill, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning as needed. Tzatziki develops its best flavor over the next couple hours and stays fresh for a week. 

        Cukes, seeds removed 
Not much cuke remains, but the flavor will be very concentrated

Packed in a deli container, en route to Katie's 

Footnotes: 1) If you don't want to waste all of the pulp & seeds from the cukes, toss them into a pitcher of water. They make the water very refreshing in this hot weather, just strain before you use it. 2) The amount of lemon, dill, salt, and pepper are a matter of personal preference, but what's going to make or break this dip is the quality of the yogurt--fat free will be too runny, the texture will be far off, and whether or not the cukes are adequately drained of their liquid and shredded/chopped into fine enough pieces. 

Verdict? This is GOOD tzatziki, if I do say so myself. It's great on gyros, falafel, and on pita chips. It makes an interesting substitute for mayo on a BLT. However, my favorite thing to do with tzatziki is to make this recipe for Greek 7 layer dip.

Now, Katie, which recipe will you make me disclose next?

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