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Dish of the Week: Tzatziki

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a recipe that will complement any backyard grill session: Tzatziki.

A popular Greek mezze – or appetizer – tzatziki is a thick sauce made of strained yogurt (mainly sheep’s or goat’s milk) mixed with cucumber, fresh garlic, salt and pepper, and a variety of other ingredients including olive oil, red or white wine vinegar, lemon juice and zest, dill, parsley, and mint.

The act of straining the yogurt through a cheese cloth or other methods is important here, as doing so thickens the sauce to create a smooth, creamy texture that is not too watery. It is then served cold, and is commonly used as a dip for veggies and pita or as a sauce to be paired with grilled chicken, beef, pork, and lamb souvlaki or kebab.

You may have also encountered tzatziki smothered on a gyro, but its usefulness doesn’t stop there – dollop it onto lamb burgers with red onion and tomato to make a delicious Greek-style burger; use it to cool down hot wings; mix it into potato salad; pair it with grilled or broiled fish; stuff it into pita along with falafel, or serve it as a dip with sweet potato fries.

This recipe, from Ina Garten, incorporates a bit of sour cream and lemon juice for extra tang and chopped dill for freshness.

Tzatziki

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Ingredients yields 2 -1/2 cups
1 pound (1 pint) plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for three to four hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.

Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Can be served immediately at room temperature or after chilling in the fridge for a few hours, allowing the flavors to blend.

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