Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Part 3: Tzatziki Sauce and Squash Side Dish

Here is the conclusion to our Greek/Med Dinner from a couple weeks ago.

Tzatziki is part of an appetizer in Greek or Turkish dishes, it's served as a dip with pita bread.

Here in the US you'll see it listed as Cucumber Sauce a lot of times.

What you need: yogurt (we'll get into specifics in a minute), olive oil, red wine vinegar, a cucumber, fresh mint, garlic and salt and pepper.

yogurt drainingThe yogurt, if you are lucky enough to live in a area that has a store that carries plain Greek yogurt, buy that, you'll get to skip a step. If you're like me and have never seen plain Greek yogurt in the store, just get whichever brand you like or is cheapest. Important point here, vanilla yogurt is not plain, it's vanilla so read the label carefully, vanilla would just be ick. You'll need 16 oz, usually 2 containers.

Now to get the yogurt ready, we've gotta get all that extra water out, I could be mistaken but I believe this is about half the process of making yogurt into cheese, but anyway, I use coffee filters and a mesh strainer and a bowl to drain the yogurt. (It works better with the basket filters we used to use but the #4 shaped filters are fine for 1 container of yogurt.) This needs to be done preferably the night before you want to mix the sauce, just fill the filters with the yogurt, put those into the strainer and set the strainer over a bowl, you can cover with a paper towel or plastic wrap then stick in the fridge.

This is what ends up in the bowl the next day, and the yogurt has a much firmer texture.

minced garlicYou need about a tablespoon of minced garlic, this is 3 little cloves, minced as fine as I could get without mincing my fingertips. I have no real knife skills but I get by.

peeled and seeded cucumberI'd call this a good sized cucumber, about 8 inches, peeled and seeded. Then chop into small pieces, not minced but not big chunks either.

chopped cucumberNow we have to get rid of as much water in the cucumber as we can. Cukes are mostly water, but really like to keep it so after chopping lay the pieces out onto a kitchen towel and roll them up, now you might need some help but grab each end and twist with everything you've got, preferably over the sink. You don't want to dry the cucumber or give your hands towel burn but you want to get a lot of the water out, more room to put flavor in now.

This part can be a little tricky due to how big your cucumber is but add 1 tablespoons oilve oil, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, a healthy pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of fresh pepper, throw in the minced garlic and give a good stir. The cucumber should be nicely coated with everything but not have a puddle in the bottom. If it's not enough liquid to coat everything add another 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and another teaspoon of vinegar.

Finely mince the mint, about 3 leaves and add to the mix, I use my really good Henkels kitchen shears for the mint.

tzatziki sauceDump in the drained yogurt and give it a good stir. You can serve it right now but the flavors will intensify after about an hour so I usually cover it with plastic and then cook dinner. Check the seasoning and add and needed salt or pepper.

Serve with pita for dipping or just about any type of meat, beef, lamb, chicken and pork I know all taste good with it, fish I haven't tried.

16 oz plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tea red wine vinegar
3 fresh mint leaves
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

Drain yogurt over night, peel and seed cucumber the chop into small pieces, squeeze to drain excess water. Add cucumber, olive oil, red wine vinegar salt, pepper, mint and garlic. Stir to combine and add yogurt. Let rest for an hour or so and serve.

And onto the easy peesy Squash side dish. Seriously easy.

sliced yellow squash and zucchiniWe've got a yellow crookneck squash and a zucchini here, Mom used a mandolin to slice these, I'm too scared of slicing me to really use it. A teaspoon or so of minced garlic.

Remember the onions that had been marinated with the pork for the Souvlaki? Grab some of those too.

Throw all of it into a skillet with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let it just hang out on medium heat. Go ahead and stir it occasionally.

About 10 minutes later, here's what you've got. My mom loves this stuff, I have no clue because I won't eat squash. She did say it went good with the meal and gave the kids a veggie to eat but me and my Dad passed on it.

So that's the conclusion of the Greek Med dinner. If anyone tries it please let me know how it turns out.

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