Those of you that have been with me for a while know I’m accustomed to a semi-nomadic lifestyle…
Nine kitchens and counting!
For a while Paul and I actually moved at least once a year, sometimes twice, to be closer to changing military bases or because termites started pouring from the ceiling of our rental.
True story; it haunts my entire existence!
For some this may seem daunting, but for someone as situationally fickle as I am, it’s a dream. I bore of my surroundings easily and LOVE moving!
We’ve been in North Carolina for almost four years. FOUR. These past few months the walls have officially closed in and my bubble is about to pop. Get me out of here!!! I need a change of pace like Madison the cat needs to be shaved like a lion. It’s basically a necessity at this point.
There’s always a silver lining, of course, and there are some pretty delicious eats around here if you dig around a bit! One particular restaurant makes the freaking BEST tzatziki dip I’ve ever had. It’s not your typical cuke sauce either; this stuff is so impossibly thick that you could hold the bowl upside down over the table and it wouldn’t budge. It’s essentially the Dairy Queen Blizzard of tzatziki dip. I’ve been trying to re-create it at home for ages now and I finally figured out what I’ve been doing wrong: fat-free yogurt. I don’t typically use fat-free anything in my kitchen [because it often leads to weird ingredient swaps and frankenfoodiness in products] but yogurt typically gets the green light. I’m now, however, a full believer that a little bit of milk-fat in your yogurt can make a huge difference in the flavor of a dip. I can hear my seventy year old food science teacher screaming “Fat is flavor!!!” during one of his nutrition tirades. “You need the fat to make it yummy!” We also need fat to better absorb the antioxidants from veggies.
It’s hands-down my favorite excuse to slather something with coconut oil, cheese, avocado, or olive oil. It’s all for the sake of antioxidants, man! And yum. Around here we’re a big fan of yum.
Grab your absolute favorite yogurt and let’s make the creamiest, tastiest Tzatziki dip ever!
Thick and Creamy Restaurant-Style Tzatziki Dip
Yield 1 heaping cup
- 1 cup full-fat yogurt [I used Noosa; yum!]
- 1/4 cup, packed, freshly grated English cucumber, skin on
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- a pinch of salt
- The recipe above is a copy-cat of my local Greek restaurant, and I quickly learned that they have a small obsession with garlic powder. If you happen to have the fresh stuff on hand and prefer it, go for it! Depending on what's in my kitchen on a given day, the following extras usually find their way into my Tzatziki sauces and dips:
- fresh garlic, mashed into a paste and salted
- fresh minced parsley, dill, and/or mint
- fresh lemon juice and/or zest
- olive oil
- pita, cukes, carrots, and tons of dippers
- tools needed: a mesh strainer or colander, cheesecloth, a grater or processor, and plastic wrap
- Grab an English cucumber [the skin on these is extra tasty and the seeds are minimal!] and, using a box grater or food processor, shred the cucumber until you have about 1/4 cup packed in your measuring cup.
- Press out the extra moisture with a paper towel and feel free to grab a knife and chop the shreds into smaller pieces to help it blend seamlessly into your yogurt.
- Next mix the 'gurt and the cuke with your salt and garlic powder and get ready to thicken!
- To make impossibly-thick yogurt all you have to do is strain it! My favorite method is pretty no-fuss, no-muss and involves topping a large bowl [or a pot!] with a mesh strainer and several layers of cheesecloth. Typically the cheesecloth comes in a giant roll so just fold it over itself a bunch of times, slap it in the sieve, and pour in your yogurt.
- To make it air-tight and keep things fresh, wrap the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for a few hours.
- Though it will begin to thicken within 2-3 hours I will typically leave mine in overnight to achieve cream-cheeseesque consistency. Pretend that's a word.
- Once it's ready re-season to taste if needed and garnish however you'd like! I grabbed a little parsley from the garden to green it up a bit!
- If you're adding any of the extras I listed above, you can add the fresh herbs and garlic at any time, but if you're using lemon juice and/or olive oil, I would add the olive oil at the very end, drizzled over the final product and add the lemon juice before straining so it doesn't dilute the dip. You can also serve the dip up with lemon wedges on the side as an edible garnish or add a little zest to the top of the dip along with a sprinkling of fresh or dried herbs. Customize to your heart's content! I make it with whatever is on hand in my kitchen/pantry that day so it's a little different each time; however, I will forever be straining my own full-fat yogurt to make it from here on out. It's just so flipping rich and tasty and lacks the dry mouthfeel that plain low-fat and fat-free yogurts have.
- This was a ridiculously long recipe description for a ridiculously simple dip. I'm so embarrassed. Forgive me?
Scoop it up with fluffy pita bread, crispy pita chips, and/or crisp vegetables. The leftover dip makes a fabulous schmear for bagels or sandwich spread for lunch!
Get ready for a Mediterranean feast!