Admittedly, for years, I purchased store-bought yogurt dips and versions of tzatziki. They served their purpose as a quick sauce or dip, and that was before I decided to make my own version.
The first thing to know is that you need to use Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt and is strained so it is more concentrated and tangier. It really makes a difference for this recipe, as does the olive oil. (I recommend an extra-virgin olive oil, which has a slight peppery flavor.)
Persian cucumbers, small, dark green, with a crunchy bite, don’t need to be peeled. I have seen recipes that recommend shredding the cucumber and then removing any excess water. I prefer the small dice for its crisp texture. Finely chopped fresh dill and mint add an herbal garden flavor to the smooth yogurt flavor.
In my “seriously simple philosophy,” I look for recipes that have versatility so they can be used in different ways. This Middle Eastern dish, claimed to be a Greek invention by historians, is at home on the kitchen table in myriad ways. I love serving it beside a freshly grilled salmon filet. It’s also an excellent sauce accompaniment to grilled chicken or Cornish hens.
This is my standard sauce for grilled or steamed artichokes. I also serve it along with hummus and eggplant dip to make a mezze trio. Don’t forget warm pita bread or lavash for dipping.
Some people enjoy this as a cold soup. Whichever way you decide to enjoy it, you’ll surely notice the fresh homemade flavor it delivers.
Yields about 2 cups
- 3/4 cup finely diced cucumber (about 1 Persian cucumber)
- 1 1/2 cups thick whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil, divided
- 2 medium garlic cloves, grated
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium serving bowl, combine the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, dill, mint, and salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Chill until ready to use.
Just before serving, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the tzatziki and garnish with fresh dill. Serve with grilled fish or poultry, alongside colorful raw vegetables, cooked artichokes or as a dip.