If you haven’t picked up on this yet, I do a lot of entertaining. I love to have people over for dinner or to celebrate some event and I seldom arrive empty handed to the various parties and celebrations I attend. That means I make a lot of appetizers. One thing I strive for when I make food for a group of people is that there will be something for everyone. Cucumber yogurt dip is perfect for those who are looking for something lower in calories, especially if you skip the optional sour cream. It is a healthy choice as it is full of good stuff like grated cucumber, lemon, parsley and Greek yogurt. It is a great choice for vegetarian guests.
This is a wonderfully refreshing dip that can wake up a veggie platter. It can also be served with grilled chicken and vegetables and pita bread as a more filling dish. I love to have left-overs to make a nice salad dressing the next day. Of course, it is great with falafel.
One of the key ingredients here is Greek yogurt. Is Greek yogurt available where you live? I know I get people here from so many different countries so let me explain in case you call it something else. Greek yogurt is yogurt that is denser and creamier than typical yogurts we can buy here. I believe they strain out more liquid but perhaps there is more to it than that. I have heard there is more protein and less sugars in Greek yogurt, because of the lower liquid content. I know, back in the ”olden days” J I used to strain yogurt in cheese cloth layers to remove some of the liquid so the yogurt would be creamier for dips. Oh this is so much easier and so much better!!
I love adding lemon zest to Tzatsiki. Did you know lemon zest is a great source of vitamin C and also contains a bit of vitamin B-6, calcium and fiber? When zesting a lemon, you are grating off only the yellow part- the white is where the bitterness resides while the yellow has a pleasantly tart flavor. I use a micro-planer to achieve very fine pieces because you don’t want bigger pieces. If you only have a zester or regular grater, chop the pieces very fine with a large knife.
Cucumber yogurt sauce (Tzatziki)
1 Sm cucumber, seeded*, grated or finely diced, peeled, or unpeeled depending on thickness of peel
1 cup greek yogurt ( I prefer 2% but you may use non-fat )
1TBSP fresh lemon juice ( taste at the end and add more if desired, up to 2 TBSP)
1 clove garlic pressed
1 tsp. Greek seasoning blend (oregano, mint, garlic) OR Dill Seasoning blend OR Lemon pepper
2-3 TBSP Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 TBSP fresh mint chopped (or 1tsp dried) Optional
Lemon Zest from 1 small lemon, very finely grated **
½ tsp or so of kosher or sea salt ( add more if needed)
¼ - ½ cup sour cream ( optional)
Mix everything and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a day.
Serve with cut up raw vegetables, pita bread, crackers or as a sauce with grilled meats and veggies or thin a bit for salad dressing.
*To seed cucumber, simply cut in quarters lengthwise and slice out the middle portion with the seeds.
**Lemon zest should be very fine so if you don’t have good micro plane, then grate and chop it to get it as fine as possible.