I spent a month in Greece once.
It was in my pre-James days. I was single, I was a teacher, and the kids were at their dad’s for the summer.
I went with 2 girlfriends, Ros and Margaret. Ros is a brilliant physical therapist buddy of mine, and Margaret is a fellow teacher and a total crack-up. You definitely want Margaret around when globe-trotting, she makes everything more fun.
Ros had been hanging out in Greece every summer for years, and had picked up the language. Yes, she’s one of THOSE people. Just picks up languages! She says they’re like music to her, and you just have to memorize the sound in that same way. Whatever. I think she’s got like 5 languages now. And she sings like an angel, which is probably where that music/language analogy comes from. I hate her.
So it wasn’t a typical “touristy” type trip. Greece was sort of a second home to Ros. She had friends over there who were like family, and we got to have experiences beyond the touristy scene. I won’t bore you with the trip details, but just know it was one of my top 5 incredible life experiences.
After that trip, I became addicted to making Greek cuisine. Tzatziki became one of my go-to staples, especially since it’s easy as dirt to whip together. In Greece, tzatziki is typically served as a sauce with grilled meats, but I like to think of it more like a dip. And if you saw my recipe from LAST week, you know about my dip love-affair.
As for making tzatziki as authentic as possible, there are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. First, you want to use full fat Greek yogurt. You need a yogurt so thick that a spoon easily stands up in it. Greek is good like that. Icelandic skyr yogurt works great, too.
Second, you need to strain the bejeezus out of the shredded cucumber. This is the most time-consuming part of all…get that water out! I usually start by mashing it into a fine metal strainer and then pushing it until I’m getting no more juice. Then! I pick it up in a little wad and squeeze it between my hands. From there, I’ll set it spread out on a paper towel for a good 10 minutes, careful not to push it into the paper towel because it gets hard to remove.
Third, it really does taste better the next day. I think that’s because the garlic has time to mesh with the yogurt. So if you’re making this for a special occasion, I recommend making it the day ahead.
And finally, any of the ingredients can be adjusted according to taste. In fact sometimes I use a whole cucumber instead of half, just because I don’t want the leftovers. The recipe is forgiving like that! Anything goes!
So, here’s the recipe, and by the way…it’ll go SMASHINGLY with last week’s grain-free sesame cracker recipe. This one’s for you, Velda! Dip away! xoxo
Authentic Tzatziki Recipe
- ½ large cucumber
- 1 ½ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic very finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Grate the cucumber. Strain it through a fine metal sieve, working to get all the water out. Squeeze it in your hands to get even more out. Place it on a paper towel for >10 minutes to absorb even more water.
Combine all other ingredients and place in the fridge until the shredded cucumber you spread on your paper towel is done sitting.
- Add the cucumber and stir.
- Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.