Go to your fridge right now and open it up. Do you have a bowl of TZATZIKI in there? If yes, pat yourself on the back. If you answered no, you are missing one of life’s great go-with-everything dips. Tzatziki (tsa-TZEE-kee) ranks as one of my favorite dips. Also known as “that white stuff,” you’ll find it smothered on gyros (pronounced YEE-rohs, not GY-rohs, please) and is made of thick Greek yogurt, fresh cucumbers and herbs—plus a generous amount of garlic that will sneak up on you whether you (and anyone near you for the next three days) like it or not.
As much as I love eating tzatziki, I’m more of a tzatziki eater than maker because my brother, Pete, has dubbed himself the tzatziki king in our family. Pete won’t let anyone else make it. He won’t even let anyone watch him make it. He’s never shared his recipe with anyone until now. I basically had to start a blog and beg him for it with the promise to make him famous to get his recipe. It’s not that his ingredients are so special—it’s a basic recipe—but Pete inserts his Pete magic on this dip. People love Pete as much as they love his tzatziki, so it’s simply better when he makes it. It really is.
Tzatziki is a perfect complement to grilled meats like lamb or kabobs, and is commonly served tableside with warm pita and vegetables. To go beyond the common use of this versatile dip, tzatziki can be spread on a burger and used as a sauce for fries. It can be dolloped on salmon or salad. It can be dipped with dolmades. You can even mix a little tzatziki in each spoonful of pilafi (lemon rice). The point is you really can’t go wrong with tzatziki.
And now, after many years of Pete mastering the craft of tzatziki making, “Pete’s Tzatziki” is available for everyone to enjoy. Just add laughter and love. But Pete, just because you’ve given up your “secret” recipe that everyone already knows, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from being on call for when I need to stock my fridge with even more tzatziki.
- 2 whole cucumbers, grated
- 2 cups homemade Greek yogurt (or 2 cups good store-bought Greek yogurt)
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ½-1 teaspoon white pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (optional)
- Peel, seed, and grate the cucumbers. Place the cucumbers in a colander and put a heavy plate on top of the cukes to press the liquid out. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to drain.
- In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, and white pepper. Add the grated cucumbers (use less or more to get the consistency you want).
- Add olive oil and vinegar and mix together. Slowly add lemon juice and combine well.
- Taste and if necessary add more olive oil, white pepper or salt. If preferred, add dill to the mix or just use for garnish.