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Recipe Monday: Tzaziki Sauce

May 21, 2012

This was a recipe specifically requested of me. I’m Lebanese on my father’s side, so it’s a recipe I’ve been making a looong time. I love it. It’s awesome with just pita or for a dip with lamb or beef. 😀

16oz plain, whole fat yogurt (I use Danon)
½ hot house/English/seedless cucumber (they’re all the same cucumber)
2-4 cloves of garlic
½-1 whole lemon
salt and pepper
cheese cloth or paper toweling

Now, you could just buy the Greek yogurt now available in most major stores. I don’t. Why? Because all of the ones I’ve found are fat free. I don’t like fat free. I barely tolerate low fat. There’s something about the taste and texture that I find off-putting. I buy the 100% natural, full fat, plain Danon yogurt. I take half that container (because I can only get it in 32oz containers) and set it in a strainer lined with paper towels or cheese cloth. I set the strainer over a deep bowl and shove the whole thing into the fridge overnight.

What you get is even thicker than Greek yogurt, and it has this silken, almost buttery texture I love. This is called labneh. It’s laban (yogurt) that has been strained (labneh). If you let it strain for a good day or two, you’ll get a farmer’s cheese. I know how to say what that is, but not how to spell it. XD It comes out sounding like ‘lebon-shtade’. That’s what my Siti and father call it, anyway, and since Siti was from Lebanon, I’m inclined to believe her.

Grate your cucumber. Add 1tsp of salt. Put it into a strainer and let it sit in your sink for fifteen minutes. Rinse thoroughly, dry on a bunch of paper towels.

Now that you have your labneh and prepped cucumber, you can make tzaziki sauce.

In a bowl, put your yogurt, cucumber, salt, and pepper. Start with two garlic cloves. Grate those (I use a microplane) into the mixture. Stir and taste. ALWAYS TASTE YOUR FOOD. If it’s not quite the garlic punch you like, add more, one clove at a time. When you’ve reached your garlic nirvana, begin with the juice of half a lemon. Stir it, taste. If you think there’s not enough lemon, add a little more salt, stir, and taste again. If you still think it needs more lemon, add it a teaspoon at a time. You don’t want it to be thin. This should be like a sour cream dip consistency.

Slap a lid on your bowl, put in the fridge. Let everything merry at least two hours. Overnight is best. Taste it again, make any more seasoning adjustments, and there you go!

Some variations call for olive oil, red wine vinegar, mint, or dill. I like mine pretty plain and old school, but go wild. Add heat, herbs, whatever. 😀 Sky’s the limit! It keeps about a week in the fridge.

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