So simple and satisfying, this nutritious dip makes a great snack paired with vegetable batons, or as part of a Greek-style mezze feast.
It’s something I prepare at least fortnightly to have alongside some homemade koftas or gyros with pita and salad. The leftover dip gets eaten throughout the week – on toast, with crudités or used as a thick salad dressing.
This recipe works even if you’ve just 15 minutes, but if you have time to allow the ingredients to ‘rest’, the results are even better.
Recipe – makes 6 servings
500g tub of Greek (or Icelandic) yoghurt
½ large English cucumber – washed
Small bunch of dill
3-4 sprigs of mint
2-4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp ground sea salt
Look for ‘strained’ yoghurt. This can be any fat % that suits your own dietary needs. I opt for a 2% variety. The lower the fat content, the higher the water content. If not drained, your tzatziki may have a higher water content as a result. More on this in the method.
Use English and not American cucumber, which is much higher in seeds and different in texture.
First prepare the cucumber – you can do this in various ways but ultimately you want to try and reduce the water content.
I start by removing the centre section (where the seeds can be seen) using a paring knife and then a teaspoon to prize out the middle.
To cut the cucumber into shape, I use a mandolin (being careful not to slice a finger off!) to produce long thin slices. Then slice horizontally producing strips of varying size. You can leave them be, or even out the lengths by roughing chopping.
Did you know? Retaining the skin also retains the fibre and vitamin K found here.
Short on time?
Once you’ve scraped out the middle seeded section, you can just grate the cucumber. This will result in smaller and finer shreds of cucumber and result in a smoother textured tzatziki.
The final step for the cucumber is to prize out as much water as possible. Place the cucumber shreds in a sieve. Stir in a good few grinds of salt (roughly ¼ tsp) then cover and leave to rest over a bowl for as long as you have time for – in the fridge.
Short on time?
Spread out the cucumber shreds onto some kitchen paper. Sprinkle over the sea salt then wrap up and wring the cucumber in the paper to remove some of the moisture.
Did you know? The added salt draws water out of the cucumber via a process called osmosis.
Next, peel and finely dice the garlic. You can use a garlic press or zester if you like which will further release the garlic aroma and flavour. Two cloves will produce a milder garlic flavour whereas four cloves will be much more fiery.
The best tzatziki I’ve had the pleasure of eating was at a virtually hidden gem of a Taverna overlooking ‘Bella vista’ in Corfu.
The garlic stayed with me for the rest of the day… but is was oh so delicious!
Now stir the garlic into the olive oil or vice versa. If time – leave to infuse for as long as you dare! I usually leave to intensify for 2-3 hours.
Meanwhile, finely chop the fresh herbs (leaves only) and juice the lemon. I roll the lemon on the countertop first – this helps soften up the fibres and release more of the juice. I slice in half then squeeze the lemon into my palm, which then collects any stray seeds or pith.
Lastly, discard any water that has separated from the yoghurt.
When you are ready, simply stir all of the ingredients together, serve and enjoy!
High in protein
Source of vitamin K & calcium
Low in sugar, fat & salt
Per 100g / 3.5oz serving:
- 80 kcals
- 2.5g carbohydrate (2.3g of which sugars)
- 6.8g protein
- 4.6g fat (of which 1.3g saturated, 2.3g monounsaturated & 0.27g polyunsaturated; trace trans fat)
- 0.3g fibre
- 80mg calcium
- 84mg sodium
- 7.1 mcg vitamin K
- 3.6mg vitamin C
Analysed using Nutritics®