Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's all Greek to me!

This weekend is hot in Santa Cruz. Incidentally, the Greek Food Faire is going on this weekend. So I decided to make what is possibly the most refreshing food out there. It just happens to be Greek too. Tzatziki is a delicious, raw, cold, tart, garlicky yogurt-cucumber-dill concoction that is delicious any time of year, but especially when it's hot out. And, keeping true to my cooking style, it's easy to make.

The ingredients:

Crush and mince 2 large (or 3 small) cloves of garlic. Then add a pinch of salt and squish further with the side of your knife blade.

Throw the garlic in a bowl, then add a spoonful of yogurt and mix it up. This ensures that the garlic will be evenly distributed. I like to use Trader Joe's Mediterranean Cheese-Style yogurt. It's very thick and creamy. This saves me from having to add sour cream or cream cheese to make it creamier. If you don't have a TJ's around, just look for greek yogurt, lebni/labni, or kefir cheese.

Slice half a long English cucumber lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. If you're really lazy you can leave them in, but I find that it waters down the tzatziki.

Now cut each half into about 4 matchsticks and slice thinly. You aren't making a rose out of a cherry tomato so don't worry about neatness too much. The yogurt will disguise awkward pieces. You just want the pieces to be pretty small. Throw them into the bowl.

Now chop up the dill. It'll be about 1 tablespoon chopped. I buy a bunch of dill and freeze what i don't use right away. It's the only herb that I know of that freezes beautifully, because it's so fine that no one can tell it's a bit wilty after its chopped. Toss the dill into the bowl.

Grind a lot of black pepper into the bowl. It's better with more pepper, I promise. Add another pinch of salt.

Add yogurt. For each cucumber I use a 16oz. thing of yogurt. I only had half a cuke left and half a tub of yogurt so it worked out perfectly. Besides, unless you're planning on eating a ton of tzatziki, make small batches. The cucumbers tend to get soggy in the fridge. It's better when they're super fresh and crisp.

Adjust the seasonings (I almost always add more pepper) and you're done. Eat it on pita chips, tortilla chips, or crusty french bread. I ate it on something I always keep in the kitchen for just such an occasion. A spoon.

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