If you asked me to pick my favorite food ethnicity, it would be Greek/Middle Eastern. Of course, since this is my game with my rules, I will tell you that the French have forfeited (because although French food is technically second in line, my overwhelming love of the baguette and croissant would cloud my judgement and make me pick it first) AND Greek + Middle Eastern are lumped into one ethnicity. Please don’t start throwing bottles of ouzo at me… it’s just that so many of the flavors and foods are similar, and talking about Greek food leads to talking about Turkish food, which leads to talking about Lebanese food, which leads to falafel. And we know all roads worth traveling lead to falafel.
If you love all things Greek and/or Middle Eastern the way I love them, then you love tzatziki. You love saying it, you love eating it. It’s meant to be a cool, refreshing condiment for spicy meat, but again, since this is my game with my rules, I make it for so many more reasons. It’s a dip for pita bread and veggies, it’s a sub for tahini sauce in my falafel, or it’s just in a big bowl to be eaten by me with a big spoon.
I’ve made about a million variations of tzatziki over the years, and this one is my favoritest. It has mint AND dill, lots of garlic, finely chopped cuke, and… wait for it… whole. milk. Greek. yogurt. This is not the place for non-fat Greek yogurt. (I could talk for hours about how no place is the right place for non-fat Greek yogurt.) It needs the richness of whole milk Greek yogurt to complement the fresh herbs and cucumber. Plus, it’s whole milk Greek yogurt. Yum-tastic. Trust me. Buy it.
Two things of note, then you can head out to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. First, this is not a first date food. It takes garlicky to a whole ‘nother level. I’ve been married seven years, and the Booze Hound has watched me birth our child, so it’s not a problem for us, but it might be a problem if you want to make it to impress your new girlfriend, who has yet to see you brush your teeth. Second, I made this as a side dish for some knock-your-socks-off lamb chops, which are coming to a food blog near you. THOSE are a first date food. And an anniversary food. And an engagement food.
Tzatziki + lamb. The world makes sense.
- Kosher or sea salt
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 2 c plain whole-milk yogurt, preferably Greek
- 1 c peeled, seeded, and finely chopped cucumber
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp chopped fresh mint
- 2 tsp chopped fresh dill
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)
- Spread ¾ tsp salt on a cutting board. Peel the garlic and finely chop it on top of the salt. Transfer the garlic and salt to a medium bowl and stir in the yogurt.
- Add the cucumber, vinegar, mint, dill, and olive oil to the yogurt mixture. Stir to blend. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve cool, garnished with mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.