The Mediterranean Dish
Tzatziki (Tsaht-ZEE-kee) is called Cacik in Turkey, Tarator in the Balkans, Tzatziki in Greece, each version of this salad is a variation on a theme: yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, fresh herbs. The yogurt is thick, and pungent with mashed garlic, the cucumbers either finely chopped or grated, then salted and allowed to wilt. Walnuts enrich the Balkan version, which is also considered a soup, as is Cacik. India has its version too, raita, the cooling mixture that accompanies hot curries.
Tzatziki sauce is versatile; there are so many ways to enjoy it. For an easy appetizer or snack, serve Tzatziki with warm bread and sliced vegetables. It makes a perfect topping for Mediterranean-style baked potato; or next to stuffed snapper or pan-seared trout; chicken souvlaki; shawarma and more! It can also be used as a sandwich spread.
- 1 cup grated cucumber (from about 1 medium 10-ounce cucumber, no need to peel or seed the cucumber first) It is important to drain the cucumber before mixing with the yogurt. Best way is to just squeeze the grated cucumber over the sink
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint and/or dill
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Working with one big handful at a time, squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a small serving bowl, and repeat with the remaining cucumber
- Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt.
- Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later. Leftover tzatziki keeps well for 4 days.