Whew! It has been a day, has it not? … a very good day in many ways, with positive steps happening, but an exhausting day too….
But this blog is primarily about food, not the other stuff. Specifically, tzatziki. Or you could call it yogurt salad, if you prefer. This is easy to make and very refreshing on a hot day. It makes a great condiment on spicy foods of all kinds, a sauce on tacos or enchiladas or in any pita bread sandwich, an omelet filling, a dip with chips or crackers, or a salad on its own.
It starts with Greek-style yogurt, which is very thick yogurt that has been drained of its whey. You can buy it in many supermarkets. I like Zoi brand. Chabino is fabulous; Fage is also very good, but on the pricey side. But Greek-style yogurt is very easy to make, though it takes a little time.
To make Greek-style yogurt: line a colander with a clean dishtowel – not a terry-cloth towel, unless you like little bits of terry-cloth in your yogurt. I guess that could be extra fiber, but not too tasty. Anyway, line the colander with the cloth, then pour in two or three quarts of regular unflavored yogurt – either regular or non-fat, whichever you like. Cover the top with another towel, suspend the colander over a bowl so it can drain easily, and leave 6-8 hours or overnight, un-refrigerated. It’s yogurt, it isn’t going to spoil.
While the yogurt is draining, peel 1 or 2 cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Slice, chop, or grate the cukes, put them in another colander, sprinkle thoroughly with salt, and allow to drain.
After the allotted time, turn the yogurt into a container. You will see that the amount of yogurt has shrunk quite a bit, and that it has changed consistency and is now fairly firm. You’ll also have a bowl of whey, which can be used as a milk substitute in pancakes, bread, muffins, smoothies, etc.
Thoroughly rinse the cucumbers, and pat dry. Put them in a bowl along with 1 small mild onion, chopped; 1 tomato, seeded and chopped; 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed; and 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley.
Mix in the yogurt.
Voila! Tzatziki. This keeps quite well if kept covered in the fridge. If you have grated the cucumbers, this makes a refreshing salad dressing, or use to top grilled hamburgers or lamb burgers.
Leave out the onions and/or tomatoes.
Substitute green onions for the mild onion, or shallots.
Add grated beets.
Add chopped fresh mint and/or fresh dill.
Add a minced hot pepper or cayenne.
Add toasted and ground cumin seeds.
Puree the tzatziki, thin with ice water, and serve as a drink (lassi) on a hot day or with spicy food. Add sugar or salt to taste if desired.