Tzatziki - Traditional Greek dip

About 7 years ago I traveled to the Greek island of Crete.  While we hiked from village to village on this breathtaking journey we learned about the local traditions, the people and of course about the local foods.  As you probably know the Cretans are famous for their longevity and studies have shown that Cretans rarely have heart disease or cancer. 

What is their secret?  It is considered that their excellent health is because of their traditional cuisine and the important role played by olive oil.

Olive oil is a mandatory part of all dishes and this was true during my visit there as they served for us olive oil for breakfast, lunch and dinner in all varieties of dishes.  For us it seemed that the Cretan cuisine literally floated in oil.  One of our favorite dishes was Tzatziki – a thick sauce that was delicious and made up of olive oil.  You can serve Tzatziki with fresh bread (see my previous recipe) or vegetables.

The recipe here I show is not an American adaptation but a real Greek traditional dish that I learned while I was there. 

Please let me know how do you like it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Greek yogurt containers (6 oz), full fat
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarse grated, squeeze the juice (the juice can be used in smoothies)
  • 1-2 clove garlic, pressed
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint or parsley, minced

HOW TO

To make Tzatziki we first must make yogurt cheese.  Start by placing a coffee filter or 2- 4 layers of cheesecloth in colander and set over a bowl.  Add the yogurt and let drain overnight or longer in the refrigerator.   

(The whey that drains out of the yogurt is a source of protein, calcium, potassium, and riboflavin. Freeze it in ice-cube trays to blend into smoothies).

Now combine the yogurt cheese, cucumber, garlic, salt, olive oil, vinegar, herbs in a bowl and stir.  Place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  Your Tzatziki is ready