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A refreshing blend of yogurt and cucumbers, tzatziki is served on meze platters throughout Greece. It can be used as a dip, a salad, or as an accompaniment for keftedes (lamb meatballs) (see related recipe at left), souvlaki and other grilled meats. Use Greek yogurt, which is particularly thick and creamy, or drain regular plain yogurt for 8 hours in the refrigerator in a cheesecloth-lined sieve.

Ingredients:

  • 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
  • Sea salt, to taste, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Set the colander over a bowl and let drain in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Squeeze the cucumber slices a handful at a time to extract any remaining moisture, then spread on paper towels and pat dry. Transfer the cucumber to a bowl.

On a cutting board, sprinkle the 1 tsp. salt over the garlic, using 1 or 2 cloves, to taste. Using a heavy knife, alternately chop the garlic and press with the side of the blade until it is a lumpy paste, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic paste to the cucumber and, using a fork, toss to mix. Add the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar and stir until well combined. Season with white pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the mint and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Mediterranean Cooking, by Charity Ferreira, Dana Jacobi & Carolyn Miller (Oxmoor House, 2008).