Last week, I wrote a little on what I love about Athens. One thing was missing though, and considering this may well be my very favourite thing about Greece, I thought I had better sneak a post in on it today!
Each and every time we ate out in Athens, I was sure to order tzatziki. In a way it’s my dream dish, as it contains 5 of my most favourite ingredients: yoghurt, garlic, cucumber, lemon and mint. It may seem a bit pointless posting a recipe in the middle of winter for something that we usually associate with summer, but bear with me.
Tzatziki is so fantastic because of its versatility. Forget what you think you know about this tasty dip, the truth is that it’s good for so much more than simply dipping carrot sticks and Turkish bread! Tzatziki can add zing and life to so many dishes, including BBQ chicken, lamb and cumin meatballs, hot curries, and good quality sausages. Maybe even some nice white fish? Tzatziki is fantastic all year round, and it’s a great way to get some extra protein and calcium with your dinner, especially if you use it in place of sweet processed sauce.
In my opinion, the secret to a delicious, authentic Greek tzatziki is to strain your yoghurt. If you don’t have time to do this, don’t fret, as you will still get a lovely flavoured dip/sauce. That being said, try strained yoghurt at least once, and I promise that you won’t look back!
Thick & Creamy Greek Tzatziki
Makes approx. 1 cup
1 cup Greek yoghurt (plain & unsweetened. I used this one today)
1/2 Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 – 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh mint (optional, to serve)
1. Strain your yoghurt for at least one hour (I usually leave it for 1.5 hours). To strain, use a muslin cloth, a thin clean tea towel, or a new Chux cloth. Pour yoghurt into the cloth and suspend it above a bowl so that the liquid (whey) drips out. As always, don’t throw out your whey! Freeze or refrigerate it, and use it to make mayonnaise, sauerkraute, or add it to your smoothies for extra protein.
2. Once strained, you will have lovely thick yoghurt. Move this into a medium sized mixing bowl and add cucumber, garlic, dried mint and lemon juice. Mix to combine. You can peel your cucumber if you like, but be sure to keep the skin and use it in a smoothie or soup. Cucumber peel is a great source of Vitamin C, so be sure not to waste it!
3. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly (more salt, more lemon etc).
To serve, top tzatziki with a sprig of fresh mint. One or two olives, a sprinkle of dried mint or a drizzle of olive oil will also look lovely. Try it with chicken, lamb and meatballs. It’s a great and healthy substitute for certain tomato and BBQ sauces which are often full of sugar and preservatives.