Diane shows you this Greek meze classic, using Greek yogurt, olive oil, fresh herbs and cucumbers. Tzatziki is by far one of the best-known Greek recipes, a classic spread on every Greek restaurant menu across America and the world. It's also very healthy, with nothing but thick Greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil, fresh cucumbers, dill, and a pinch of salt. Serve it on its own or with grilled chicken, lamb, or beef. Try your own souvlaki at home, too, with some tzatziki on the side. Serve pita bread with it!
1 long thin cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cups/480 ml strained Greek yogurt, chilled
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Grate the cucumber on the coarse side of a box grater. Drain really well in a fine-mesh sieve for 10 minutes, then, taking a handful at a time, squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible in the palms of your hands. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
2. Combine the yogurt with garlic. Add the drained, squeezed cucumber and the dill. Pour in the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Serve immediately. It should be served cold.
Tzatziki is traditionally served as an appetizer and can be left on the table as an accompaniment to foods throughout the meal. The key to great tzatziki is the thick creamy texture that allows it to be eaten alone, as a dip, as a spread, and as a condiment.
Tzatziki is one of the classic sauces in Greek cuisine, and there are as many versions as there are cooks who make it.
Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki (Greek: τζατζίκι) is a Greek meze or appetizer, also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually sheep's-milk or goat's-milk in Greece and Turkey) with cucumbers, garlic, salt, usually olive oil, pepper, dill, sometimes lemon juice and parsley, or mint added. The cucumbers are either pureed and strained, or seeded and finely diced. Olive oil, olives, and herbs are often used as garnishes.
In touristy restaurants, and outside Greece and Cyprus, Tzatziki is often served with bread (loaf or pita) as part of the first course of a meal. Greeks, Cypriots and those from all over the Middle East use this dish as a side dish to a meal with meat. The acidity cuts the fat, thus Tzatziki is also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros, in which case it may be called cucumber sauce (especially in the U.S.).
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Come to visit Diane and Vassili at their GLORIOUS GREEK KITCHEN COOKING SCHOOL (Ikaria). They run cooking classes and organize culinary tours in Greece for recreational and professional cooks. They also own DV FOOD ARTS CONSULTING, a food marketing company that produces specialty books and other food-and-wine-related literature for a wide variety of clients and independently for the tourist and other markets. Diane consults on Greek cuisine for restaurants, retail outlets and producers of fine Greek foods. Vassilis Stenos (photographer) offers an extensive archive of food and travel photographs of Greece.
Diane Kochilas is an internationally known food writer, cookbook author, culinary teacher, food consultant and food "guru". She has more than 20 years' experience in the Greek kitchen. Diane divides her time between Athens, Ikaria, and New York. She is the consulting chef at Pylos, one of New York's top-rated Greek restaurants as well as consulting chef at Avli Restaurant in Chicago. She writes frequently for the US food press and appears regularly on American television. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Gourmet, Saveur, Food & Wine, Eating Well and in other food and general-interest publications. In Athens, she is the weekly food columnist and restaurant critic for Ta Nea, the country's largest newspaper. She has written 19 books on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, including the award-winning The Glorious Foods of Greece. Her books include: The Food and Wine of Greece, The Greek Vegetarian, The Glorious Foods of Greece, Meze, Against the Grain (good carbs), Mediterranean Grilling, Mastiha Cuisine, The Northern Greek Wine Roads Cookbook, and Aegean Cuisine (see below).