Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tzatasiki Sauce

No matter how you choose to spell it, tzatsiki sauce is a food of the gods. Most Americans experience tzatsiki sauce as topping on a gyro or with souvalki; it is also amazing on its own as an appetizer dip with pita chips or as a sauce for other kinds of grilled chicken.

The bright flavors of dill (fresh or dried), cucumber and garlic, accented with a little olive oil, vinegar and pepper, elevate plain yogurt or sour cream to amazing heights. If you can find good cucumbers, this dish has the flavors of summer any time of the year. The optional mint is used in other Mediterranean/Middle Eastern versions of this sauce and creates an ever-so-slightly-sweet note in the sauce.

  • 16 ounces sour cream (not fat free) or plain yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, depending on size and to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill or 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt for salting cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried mint leaves or 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves

Grate cucumber using either the coarse side of a box grater or the shredding blade of a food processor. Salt cucumber and place in a colander; let drain at least one hour, pressing occasionally to force liquid out.

When cucumber has drained well, pat with paper towels to blot away any excess liquid and some of the salt. Mix cucumber with remaining ingredients. Stir well and refrigerate, covered, at least one hour. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with grilled chicken or lamb, with pita chips, or on top of grilled beefsteak tomato slices.

For a recipe for pita chips, see yesterday's post: Tomato Bruschetta. Simply use garlic power, dill and black pepper to season chips.

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