Monday, August 20, 2012

Linda’s Tzatziki Sauce

Today, we have two posts to complete our menu planning ideas for a Greek Dinner Party (see my blog of Aug. 19, 2012). Be sure to check out the Café Frappe post immediately below this one. As I learned only a couple of days ago, Tzatziki is easy to make! It’s often a difficult recipe to find, because it was invented around the 1960s. 

The cucumber harvest from Lindas lakeside garden!
My friend Linda - who was invented earlier but doesn’t look it - says she loves to make this quick and easy recipe. 

You’ll need to start with thick, plain, Greek-style yogurt. Linda favors a specific brand with 11% fat, but I haven’t named the brand because its manufactured locally rather than internationally. Chances are, you won’t be able to find it in Australia or Ireland or Russia or the U.S. or Canada, which is where many of you Dollinks live. 

Just choose a high-quality, full-fat, Greek-style yogurt. Why full fat? See the Further Note at the end of this recipe! Linda originally got the recipe from her daughter, but modified it. I’ve also modified the recipe Linda uses! So here’s “our” recipe:

Tzatziki Sauce:

½ large cucumber, peeled (I used a whole cucumber)
1-⅓ c. unflavored Greek-style yogurt (I used 1-½ c.)
Juice of ½ lemon (I used 1 small lemon)
3 tbsp. olive oil (I used 5 tbsp.)
3 tbsp. fresh dill weed (having no fresh dill weed, I used 2 tsp. dry)
1-to-3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped (I found 2 cloves quite enough! See Note)
Pepper, to taste 

Slice the cucumber lengthwise, using a fork to remove the seeds (Linda grows huge cucumbers in her lakeside garden, but prefers to use the Long English seedless variety). Grate the cuke, straining and squeezing out the juice. Drain liquid from top of yogurt. Combine well-drained cucumber, yogurt, and all remaining ingredients. Refrigerate at least 2 hr. to allow flavors to blend.

Note: The amount of garlic depends on how long you plan to store this sauce. Use 3 cloves if you’re serving it soon, and just 1 clove if you plan to store it several days. Linda stresses that all the above ingredients can be varied according to personal preference. She uses extra dill, plenty of garlic, and a large cucumber.

Further Note: I wanted to challenge Linda’s directive to use full-fat yogurt. My conclusion? Linda is absolutely right! To test this recipe, I bought two types of Greek-style yogurt - one full-fat, the other with no fat at all. I immediately noticed that the unfatted yogurt had an unpleasantly “starchy” taste. In reading the label, I saw listings for tapioca starch, locust bean gum (another thickener), pectin (ditto), and milk protein concentrate (also ditto!). 

To disguise the starchy flavor of such additives, the manufacturers of zero-fat yogurt add sugar, flavorings, and colors. By way of contrast, the true Greek-style yogurt I bought (the kind Linda recommends) contained only milk, cream, skim milk powder, and active bacterial culture. My friends Robin and Bonnie also recommend Balkan-style Organic Probiotic Yogurt containing organic milk, organic milk powder, and active bacterial culture. Become label readers, Dollinks! What goes into your body today will affect all your tomorrows.

For an excellent look at this topic, see:

Peel cucumber in preparation for grating

Be sure to remove the seeds before grating cuke!

Olive oil and fresh lemon juice are essential to Tzatziki

Note the thickness of this natural Greek-style yogurt!

Stir in well-drained, grated cucumber

Store until needed ... Tzatziki keeps well for several days

Serve as an accompaniment to Pita Bread

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