Tzatziki


It took me a long time to figure out grilling can be so much more than burgers and dogs. Over the years as I've become more experienced on the grill, and in the kitchen in general, I've expanded my grilling lineup to include vegetables, chicken, fish and more. These days my favourites off the grill include cream cheese-stuffed mini peppers and marinated chicken souvlaki served with cool, creamy tzatziki.

This traditional Greek sauce is made with cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice and fresh herbs (I like dill best) and can be served with a variety of meats, vegetables and flatbreads. Unlike heavy mayonnaise-based aioli or sour cream dips and spreads, tzatziki feels fresh and bright, and can be made with everything from low fat to heavy Greek yogurts.

I think I was in my late teens when I first heard the word tzatziki. There was a pita wrap takeout place in downtown Ottawa that my friends and I used to frequent when we were 19 or so and enjoying the nightlife in the Byward Market. Those 2 a.m. pita wraps with loads of tzatziki were a dream after dancing with my friends on a hot summer night. Sometimes I miss those days!

Nowadays I see tzatziki everywhere, even pre-made at the grocery store. But, like most things, I like it best homemade. This recipe is tangy, super flavourful and easy to make. I plan to make it a regular this summer to dress up pretty much everything that comes off the grill. 

Grab the recipe below and you too can keep a bowl of cool, creamy tzatziki handy to take all your grilling to the next level.



Tzatziki
Makes 2 cups (500 mL)

1 cup (250 mL) peeled, grated cucumber
1 tsp (5 mL) coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) any plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh dill
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
Cracked black pepper to taste

Add the grated cucumber to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the salt and set aside for 20-30 minutes to allow the salt to draw out the excess moisture. Do not rinse. 

Squeeze the excess moisture from the grated cucumber by gathering it up in cheesecloth or a clean dish towel, or press with the back of a spoon in a fine mesh sieve. Discard the excess liquid. Add the cucumber back to the mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, dill, garlic, lemon juice and black pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. 

What do you like with tzatziki?


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