I fell head-over-heels in love with tzatziki 18 years ago while spending the summer in Greece on my honeymoon. My tall-dark-and-handsome-Greek-god-of-a-husband had whisked me off to indulge in all the splendor of his native country. We spent the summer hopping from one quaint little seaside town to next. We met family, made new friends and gathered around many a table to feast on fresh fabulous food for hours on end.
As the heat of summertime and the cloudless cobalt blue skies appear each year, my mind can’t help but to become filled with the memories of that summer. Some of my fondest memories come from time spent on Crete in Alkalahori, the tiny village where my mother-in-law had grown up and where her mother still lived. We would wake early in the morning before the heat would invade the day and walk to the farmer’s market. Then, we quickly selected our treasures, and scurried back into the refreshing refuge of Yaya’s cool stone walled kitchen. I cherished this daily tradition. I loved listening to the stories that unfolded in Yaya’s 100 year old kitchen as we assisted her with the daily chores of chopping, peeling and dicing some of the most gorgeous fruits and vegetables I had ever seen in my life. We spent hours wrapped up in amazing stories of the past that would come alive as My Yanni would translate what was so passionately rolling off his grandmother’s tongue.
This summer I look forward to sharing the many delicious family recipes that graced the table that magical summer and continue to do so today, here in suburbia. I’ve decided to kick off the fun with a family favorite and all time crowd pleaser – dreamy creamy tzatziki! In Greece this refreshing yogurt and cucumber sauce is often served as a dip with pita bread adorned with a kalamata olive or as a condiment to jazz up meat. Tzatziki pairs beautifully with chicken or lamb and is commonly wrapped in a pita sprinkled with diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce.
Wait until you see how simple it is to have a taste of Greece by making this gorgeous dip.
These are the ingredients,
1 English cucumber, plain yogurt, sour cream, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt.
Now, the key to tzatziki success is the draining of the liquid.
My mother-in-law lovingly repeats this to me every time we “talk tzatziki” it’s so cute in her thick Greek accent.
Now you may be asking, how does one drain yogurt? Don’t worry, it’s easy peasy. Just grab a colander and place it in a bowl. Then line the colander with cheese cloth, pour the yogurt in and let drain overnight in the refrigerator.
You’ll be amazed at how much liquid actually drains from the yogurt!
This is what your drained yogurt will look like…
Lovely isn’t it? Remove yogurt from the cheese cloth and place it in a bowl.
Next you’ll want to shred the cucumber. I like to leave the skin on for added texture and color. The English cucumber is perfect for this because the skin is so thin and non-waxy.
Again draining is key.
Repeat after me in your best Greek accent…
Well actually in this case we want to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the shredded cucumber to release all of the juice.
And would you just look at all of that cucumber juice!
Discard the cucumber juice and to the shredded (juice-free) cucumber add,
red wine vinegar,
finely chopped garlic,
olive oil, sour cream and salt.
Then give it a good stir.
Right about now you can close your eyes, inhale deeply through your nostrils and pretend that you are on an island in Greece just sitting down to a fabulous meal.
Now open your eyes and fold in the drained yogurt a little at a time,
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Continue adding and folding until it’s all incorporated.
In no time flat you’ve got yourself a dreamy creamy (well drained and squeezed) heavenly tzatziki.
Grab a piece of pita, close your eyes and dig in.
You my friend have just had an authentic taste of Greece without even leaving your very own kitchen.
Hope you’ll stay tuned for more tasty treats from Greece!
Here’s the recipe:
1 32 oz plain yogurt
6 ounces sour cream
1 English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Here’s what to do:
1. Drain the yogurt overnight in a cheese cloth lined colander with a bowl underneath to collect the liquid.
2. Shred the cucumber into a bowl. In a separate bowl squeeze handfuls of the shredded cucumber to release as much juice as possible out of the cucumber. Discard cucumber juice.
3. Add all ingredients, except drained yogurt, to the shredded cucumber and mix well.
4. Lastly, fold the drained yogurt into the cucumber mixture a little at a time until all is incorporated.
Tzatziki gets better the longer it sits and will last up to a week refrigerated in a sealed container. Enjoy with pita or use as a condiment with lamb or chicken.
I swanny Wendy…we need to be neighbors. NEED to be. I can bring the pitas every time too.
What a beautiful post. It was like I was there too. Sounds like a beautiful summer with your husband.
Mmm…looks delicious. And your memory is such a sweet one!
My mom is staying with me for a few days while my husband is out of town and I was just thinking about taking her out for Greek food tonight. She doesn’t like to try new things, but I’m hoping I can get her there!
I will say that it does look like heaven!
I absolutely love this stuff. I am going to try your recipe, I had never drained my yogurt and cucumber and wondered why it was so liquidy. Thanks for posting!
ooooh oh oh oh. I can put down some tzatziki.
I would love to visit Greece sometime in my lifetime…with my very non-Greek God of a husband. Love the post. 🙂
Looks like such a fresh and light dip. I am loving this
Mmmmmmm – so fresh and tasty! That 1st picture is so moody – I love it!
love this Wendy – love the story too . . . i can just hear Yaya and your Yanni . . . and i can see your pretty face moving back and forth like a tennis match . . . happy sigh . . .
Oh I love this Wendy! I really could dig right into this!
Wow…..i am so going to try this. It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing it…..and the hints on draining!
I hope one day to visit Greece. I’d love to wander around trying all the lovely food from that lovely, ancient country. Can’t wait to try your tzatziki. I just know it’s going to be heavenly with all kinds of things.
wow this is so cool! Sounds and looks wonderful. This is a GREAT blog!
I didnt know about tzatziki until I moved to Virginia when I was 18. There was a greek restaurant there and it was the most amazing thing I had ever tasted. I thought now that I am 2000 miles away and tons from a real Greek restaurant, I was out of luck! EXCITED to try this!
What a lovely post, and your honeymoon in Greece sounds positively wenderful! I love tzatziki, and my husband can tell you that I went through a little put-tzatziki-on-absolutely-everything phase; I think it’s time to do it again. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe, Wendy! xo
Yes! I just LOVE this dip. And perfect for this hot weather.
I’ve always wanted to visit Greece! What a wonderful experience to be able to listen to all of those great family stories.
i’m quite mesmerized by your greece story *dreamy indeed* …..a place ive always wanted to visit 🙂 i think you can use muslin cloth too for draining…works well.
Oh my goodness did this post ever take me back! Three years ago, on the beautiful Isle of Mykonos I tasted tzatziki for the very first time at a little seaside restaurant we discovered while touring on our rented four-wheelers. I loved it and it was served just as you say, with pita bread as an appetizer.
Thank you for sharing your recipe, I will definitely be making this. Looking forward to your summer posts Wendy.
One of my favorites! Your recipe certainly looks dreamy!
I love tzatziki but have never made it. Why not I’m wondering..sounds easy and I’m betting much better than a store product.
So thanks…very nice but I admit, just a bit disappointed.
You mention tall, dark Greek God of a husband and all we get our pics of yogurt, garlic and cucumber? 🙂
Isn’t the draining and squeezing the most important part? I love a good tzatziki, and yours looks delightful!
YUM! I love tzatziki and would never have thought I could actually make it myself! Looks delicious. Every summer we have a greek-themed barbecue at my house with kabobs and pita and hummus – I will be adding tzatziki to the list this year!
Gorgeous!! I am in love with your site already. So beautiful! 🙂
This looks incredible. I too love tzatziki and man would this be the perfect snack on a hot day like today! Lovely photos.
Wendy, I can taste the freshness. Jonathan and I love tzatziki. I never drained yogurt to make tzatziki and am so impressed. Loved hearing a bit more about you and getting to know you a bit better.
I could bath in this stuff!
I love this post….and that tzatziki? I could eat that STRAIGHT with a spoon!
I LOVE tzatziki sauce! Its soo delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Just wanted to find good tzatziki recipe. And your site is God’s answer to my search. Thank you.
[…] week I shared my story of falling head-over-heels in love with tzatziki. This week I’d like to share a favorite Greek treat that deliciously accompanies the dreamy […]
Do you mind if I use your recipes for my blog?. I´m participating in a spanish blogger to blogger context about film related with food.
This month´s we have to guess what Greek God Dionisio was carrying in his hand and cook something greek adding that ingredient. Well what he was carrying was a fig, so I´ll add a fig salad to your tzatziki.
I was looking for a good tzatziki recipe, and I loved this one. Of course I´ll say where I got the recipe from.
Love from Spain
I finally made tzatziki the way it should be because of you. That drain drain drain is by far the most important part. I’d read instructions before but seeing it in your pictures I never quite understood the difference! Thank you for this recipe. Its the closest one I’ve ever found to my favorite Greek restaurant back in VA. No dill, no lemon, no mint. And the color I was seeing and assuming was herbs was indeed cucumber skin!!! I love this! Thanks Wenderly!