When I move to a new city, I want its finest. I’m a veritable one-woman Zagat looking for the best pizza, the best latte, and the best Eggs Benny*. I spent my year in St. Louis hunting these bests down, and I truly believe that I found most of them. No matter how many Greek restaurants I visited, though—and there are many—I never found a tzatziki sauce that rivaled the ones I tasted while visiting Greece (OK—any of my friends will tell you that I’m always looking for a reason to bring up this trip. You can order nachos and I’ll find a way to get there in three moves or less.** This is probably the only reason I cook Greek food).
Luckily these midwestern Greek restaurants made great saganaki, moussaka, and other Greek staples, so I never left too disappointed. The dearth also charged me with a personal mission to make the tzatziki of my memory. And not to toot my own horn—TOOOOOOOOT—but I do think this tzatziki might be some of the best you can find if you can’t make it to the Mediterranean.
I’m from the school of tzatziki that requires lots of cucumber, lots of dill, and lots of pizzaz. This tzatziki should try to upstage whatever its being served with, talking loudly and making albeit hilarious jokes at inappropriate times. The runny, bland, barely-more-than-yogurt sauce that many restaurants serve simply won’t do. And, if you like that kind of sauce, yucky barely-more-than-yogurt-water, then
this recipe is not for you LEAVE. But if dips and sauce are often your favorite part of the meal, then c’mon—let’s get into it.
**Nachos→Greek Nachos→Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I went to Greece?
- 2 cups plain greek yogurt (I hate to pick favorites, but Fage really is the best)
- 1 english cucumber, seeded
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp red onion, finely minced
- Kosher salt to taste
- Drape approximately one foot of cheesecloth over the sieve. Position the sieve over a bowl for draining. Place the greek yogurt in the sieve and allow to drain for at least an hour but up to three to allow as much water to drain as possible. If using a lesser quality yogurt, more draining time will be needed.
- Peel the cucumber and half lengthwise. Remove seeds.
- Either using the shredding attachment of a food processor or the largest side of a cheese grater, grate/shred the cucumber. Place the shredded pieces in another sieve over a bowl to drain. You can use a cheesecloth here as well, or paper towels, but it isn’t as necessary for the cucumber.
- Drain the cucumber the same length of time as the yogurt. During the draining process, place both bowls in the refrigerator to chill.
- While yogurt and cucumber chill, chop remaining ingredients.
- Once the yogurt is ready, transport to a large bowl for mixing.
- Wring cucumber shreds in a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible before adding to yogurt. The drier the cucumber, the thicker the sauce.
- Add all other ingredients to the yogurt and mix with a spatula Add salt to taste.
- Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.