A certain time of year rolls around, usually around now, when I crave this fresh, tangy, yogurt and cucumber dip.
I rarely make this during winter, I need long evenings and warm temperatures for my craving to start. During the summer months though, when we start to eat out in the garden, I use any excuse to whip this up, and thankfully it goes perfectly with so many different types of food that I seem to have lots of opportunities.
Sometimes we eat it with pita and crackers for dipping, other times as a side garnish with our evening meals, it's a perfect accompaniment with fresh summer salads, and I adore it spread thickly on slices of fresh bread loaves or on top of a homemade burger.
I have experimented so much with this over the years that I finally have the recipe just the way I like it - heavy on the herbs, light on the lemon juice, with perfectly prepared cucumber.
YIELDS 3 - 4 CUPS
What you will need
- 1 cucumber
- Fine sea salt, approximately ½ a tablespoon - this will help to extract the water from the cucumber
- 500ml Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt
- A couple of grinds of black pepper
Equipment at the ready
- Box grater
- Large bowl
- Meium sixed bowl
- Heavy weight like a pestle & mortar to help drain the water from the cucumber
- ½ tablespoon measure
- 1 tablespoon measure
- Sharp knife for chopping herbs
- Chopping board
- Measuring jug for the Greek yogurt
How to make the dip
Start by preparing the cucumber by removing as much of the water as you can, this will ensure that the finished dip has a perfect balance of flavours and consistency, and won't be diluted by the water from the cucumber.
Cut the cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds from the center with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber (there is no need to peel the skin) by using the largest sized grate on a box grater.
Next drain the water from the cucumber. Place the grated cucumber in a sieve over a large bowl, sprinkle generously with fine sea salt and mix. You could at this stage leave to drain overnight, but as I'm impatient especially when it comes to food I like to help it along by placing a second smaller bowl on top and then my heaviest pestle and mortar on top of this. The liquid will start to drain immediately. To help it along I mix the cucumber around every so often with a fork and replace the weight on top. When the cucumber stops dripping it's ready, this will take about two hours and the drained excess water should yield almost a cup.
When the cucumber is ready, scoop out the Greek yogurt into a medium-sized bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
Mix in the drained grated cucumber. Add finely chopped mint to taste, for me, that's about 3 - 4 tablespoons.
I used to add a clove of minced garlic, but the flavour always seemed too intense. While I absolutely adore garlic I do think in tzatziki it's best left out, but try it for yourself and see what you think.
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkly with chopped mint leaves. Serve, as I do, with anything you like!