This summer has flown by! It honestly hasn’t felt a lot like summer in San Francisco, but we know our family and friends around the country have been dealing with really hot weather for weeks. We’ve been making a special effort to include foods that will be appealing on 95 degree day, like this lobster salad, this watermelon gazpacho, and these gimlets. If you’re looking for the perfect summer snack or appetizer, look no further than this tzatziki! The refreshing combination of cucumber and mint will be perfect for even the hottest days.
Tzatziki is the classic Greek yogurt sauce you get with gyros at Greek restaurants. It’s made with strained yogurt (although some restaurant versions are awfully runny, it makes you question…), cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes dill. We don’t use dill very often, so we used mint here. It’s possible to strain your own yogurt by setting it in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight, but we just use Greek yogurt and it works perfectly.
Tzatziki benefits from sitting a while after you make it–ideally overnight in the fridge to let all the flavors come together and allow the garlic to mellow a bit. Our tip for the best tzatziki is to drain the cucumber so that the water in the cucumber doesn’t make the tzatziki runny. Peel half of the cucumber (just make lengthwise stripes), then cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and the watery pulp around them. Grate the cucumber on the ribbon size side of a Microplane box grater (this handheld Microplane would also work, just be careful to hold it steady), toss the grated cucumber with sea salt, and let it drain in a mesh strainer over a small bowl. We set a heavy cereal bowl on top of the grated cucumber in the strainer to apply more pressure. It’s amazing how much water comes out.
Once you’ve drained the cucumber for about an hour (it’s not as involved as it sounds, we promise!), the rest is easy. Just fold the cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, and lemon zest into the Greek yogurt and let it rest for a few hours to overnight. We enjoyed our tzatziki as a snack with these delicious pita crisps and served it in this beautiful glass dish. The vibrant blue reminds us of the Mediterranean, so it was perfect for a cool summer dip!
- Peel cucumber in alternating strips to leave about half of the peel on the cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half, and scrape out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Grate the cucumber on a medium grater, and toss the grated cucumber with the salt. Place the cucumber in a mesh strainer over a bowl to drain for 1-2 hours. Weight the cucumber with another bowl if necessary.
- Once the cucumber is drained, fold it into the Greek yogurt, along with the mint, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest (optional).
- Season to taste with extra salt if needed, then let the tzatziki rest in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.