At our house, we eat this by the tub and I realized I’ve yet to share it with you. Tzatziki is the Greek version, Cacik is the Turkish, and Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce is from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. And not surprisingly, they’re all similar enough to be the same thing even though they’re culturally not quite.
Close enough for me. I’ve been making it for decades without a recipe so we’ll just forge ahead.
Sure, it goes great on an gyro. But also try it as a dip for fresh vegetables, as a spread on a sandwich, in tuna salad or chicken salad instead of mayonnaise, and so on.
The foundation is a nice thick yogurt. I buy my organic Greek yogurt either from Costco or a local grocery. There are many good brands out there, just make sure to read the labels and avoid those that are not just yogurt. You don’t need (or want) sugar and other non-yogurt ingredients in this.
Once upon a time, all food was organic. #realfood
If all you have is regular yogurt, not Greek, don’t worry. Put the regular yogurt in a coffee filter set inside a strainer over a bowl (you could also use a cheesecloth but there’ll be cleanup later). Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for three or four hours — until enough water drains off and it’s thick.
After the yogurt, the cucumber is the star of the show. If you can get a Persian cucumber, by all means do that, they’re wonderful (but you don’t see them very often this side of the ocean). English cucumbers are also very good. Today, I just used a garden variety farmers market 3 for $2.00 type. It’s all good.
In this case, all I had to do was remove the seeds with a spoon before I grated it.
Please don’t put your cucumber in a food processor. I’ve seen many recipes that say so, but unless you’re super-duper careful, you get cucumber puree. And that’s not what we want. I peeled mine, removed the seeds, and grated it. (I leave an end unpeeled so I have a handle I can grip. That’s just me.)
The mint, dill, garlic, and lemon juice were fresh today but I’ve also used dried and jarred many times and it’s almost as good. You use what you have in the pantry or refrigerator first, right?
By the way, if you don’t like… say, mint? Then don’t use it. Just leave it out. You can still make this and it will be wonderful. Really, it’s the cucumber and yogurt that are the stars. Don’t like lemons? Use a little vinegar. Want to add some ground sumac? You bet! (You get the idea — you’re allowed to play with your food.)
Sprinkle a bit of salt on the grated cucumber and let it sit in a strainer over a bowl for at least 15 minutes. You’ll be amazed how much water drains off.
Then mix it all together.
And that’s it!
Cover the bowl or container with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for a few hours. The flavors need time to meld together and develop. Then, once you’re ready, taste it and add some salt but only if needed. Or feel free to stir in some more lemon juice — I usually do when I’m using it to sub for mayo.
Tzatziki or Cacik or Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Tzatziki or Cacik or Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce, a joy by whatever name, is a condiment we eat by the tub at our house. And homemade is the best tasting and most affordable version. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 2 cups thick (Greek) yogurt
- 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (if necessary)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- small handful of dill, finely chopped
- small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, mashed / minced to almost a puree
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice half of a lemon
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
Grate the cucumber into a strainer over a bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and stir. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to drain off the water.
Mix everything together, cover, and refrigerate for at least a few hours if possible.
Stir well and adjust salt, if needed, to taste before serving.