Taste: Dill and garlic make the perfect pair in this yogurt-based dressing

·3 min read
A blend of cucumbers, garlic, dill, lemon juice and olive oil in thick Greek yogurt, tzatziki sauce brings the flavor to any Mediterranean-inspired meal.
A blend of cucumbers, garlic, dill, lemon juice and olive oil in thick Greek yogurt, tzatziki sauce brings the flavor to any Mediterranean-inspired meal.

I found myself at a Pita Pit a few weeks ago. This fast casual, Canadian-based restaurant puts a combination of things into pitas.

I opted for falafel. Much like Subway, those ordering can pick their toppings as the restaurant staff builds the wrap.

As I was adding pepperoncini, spinach and black olives, I was dreaming of the tzatziki sauce that would accompany my wrap.

The woman making my meal put a modest amount of the yogurt-based dressing on the pita. I asked for more.

Tzatziki is one of those things that’s just good. All of the things that go into it are good and the sauce itself is just delicious.

It’s also pretty darn healthy, with a Greek yogurt base and flavors built with fresh dill, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

Tzatziki takes a little bit of patience and a little bit of muscle. The first step is grating and salting an English cucumber and letting it drain.

English cucumbers are about 96% water, and a good chunk of that needs to be squeezed off. If it’s not drained and squeezed, the tzatziki could end up too watery.

Salting the cuke helps draw out the moisture, so letting it hang out for a bit and drip off speeds up the overall process.

The next step is to take a clean kitchen towel or a few layers of cheesecloth and just squeeze as much moisture from the grated cucumber as possible. Do this with a towel that’s OK to stain, because it will end up green.

The salty cucumber juice can be added to other dishes, discarded or just sipped, if you’re a weirdo like me and you’re into such a thing. I’ve also been known to drink pickle juice straight from the jar.

Once the cucumber is prepared, the rest is easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Literally.

Measure out the Greek yogurt into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine.

My favorite ingredient is the fresh dill. The smell of fresh dill takes me back to my childhood when my grandmother or my aunt would be making pickles with dill and cucumbers grown in their gardens.

I remember those days as being hot and sticky, and I didn’t know why the stove needed to be going on top of what seemed like oppressive heat. It was probably about 10 to 20 degrees cooler in northern Minnesota those summer days than the hottest Aberdeen days, but we didn’t have air conditioning and inside would feel the same as outside.

Dill is such an underrated herb. I use it whenever I can.

Tzatziki should last in the fridge about a week and can be used on gyros or falafel, as a salad dressing or as a dip with pita chips. Maybe a spoonful disappears here or there — I won’t tell.

Tzatziki sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt.

  • 1 big English cucumber.

  • 1 teaspoon shredded garlic.

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

  • ¼ cup dill leaves, chopped.

  • Salt and pepper to taste.

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Instructions

  • In a bowl, Peel the cucumber and grate it using a large blade grater.

  • Take a clean muslin cloth or high-quality paper towel. Place shredded cucumber in a muslin cloth and squeeze to release liquid. Place the bowl underneath to preserve the liquid.

  • Measure the yogurt into a bowl. Add squeezed cucumber, garlic, pepper, chopped dill leaves, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Mix together well. Cover it with cling wrap or with a lid.

  • Refrigerate it for at least one hour.

The stories of local people and their recipes are featured in Taste. If you have a great recipe or story idea or have a question about cooking and baking, contact columnist Katherine Grandstrand at aberdeentaste@gmail.com or follow @AberdeenTaste on Twitter or Instagram. 

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: tzatziki sauce dressing highlights cucumbers, garlic, dill