Cucumber & Yogurt Salad With Herbs (a.k.a. Tzatziki) ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cucumber & Yogurt Salad With Herbs (a.k.a. Tzatziki)

When my husband and I traveled through Greece and Turkey many years ago, we developed a new appreciation for two foods, in particular -- eggplants (which are used in many dishes with delicious results) and tzatziki, the traditional greek cucumber and yogurt salad that accompanies nearly every meal.

Spoonful of tzatziki by Eve Fox, copyright 2008
The greeks have amazing yogurt, it's actually a point of national pride for the country's 11 million inhabitants. And understandably so, for it is delicious, managing to be both remarkably creamy and also lower in fat than American-style yogurt due to the fact that it is made from ewe's milk instead of cow's milk.

Tzatziki is easy to make, refreshing and a great summer salad that is a perfect side for lots of meals from grilled meats to stewed lentils to baked eggplant to roasted chicken...

If you'd like to try making this with greek yogurt, there are several brands available in the U.S., the most widely available of which is probably Fage. However, this salad will be delicious when made with a whole-milk American yogurt, too. I used a delicious organic European-style (tends to be more liquid than American-style yogurt) yogurt made by Strauss, our beloved local creamery.

One of its beauties is that it is a flexible salad - you can add less or more yogurt, depending on your preference for consistency, and use just dill or a variety of different herbs (dill, cilantro, and parsley are all good), as you like.

Bowl of homemade tzatziki by Eve Fox, copyright 2008
Here is the basic recipe - I am leaving the amounts loose since they will depend on how much you want to make and how much of each thing you want to add (some might prefer more onion and less yogurt, others no onion and tons of herbs, etc.)

Tzatziki (Cucumber and Yogurt Salad With Herbs)


* 1 large cucumber, washed and peeled if the skin was waxed and cut into thin slices (try to find an organic cucumber if possible)
* 1/4 to 1/2 small red onion, peeled and cut into paper thin slices (if you love onion, use a lot, if you don't love onion, use less or none at all)
* 1- 1 1/2 cups organic whole milk yogurt
* 2 tsps fresh dill, washed, dried and chopped
* 1 tsp fresh parsely, washed, dried and chopped (alternatively, you could also substitute fresh cilantro for either the dill or the parsley)
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Fine sea salt


1. Combine the herbs, cucumber, and yogurt in a bowl and stir to mix.

2. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

3. Taste and adjust the amounts as needed (you can add more yogurt, herbs or onions if you feel any one of them is lacking).

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Kristie Pattison said...

My mother gives me recipes for tzatziki, each time differently because she does everything by taste and what's in the house. Being half Greek, we make tzatziki with lamb as a side dish or to dip. I often take it to work instead of yogurt with fruit, especially when chilled. It can be on fried eggplant, fried zuchini, or bread dipped.
Here are three recipes my mother has given me:
1 pkg plain yogurt, 1 cucumber sliced length-wise, skoop out the seeds, 1 garlic chopped fine, 1 T olive oil. Chill for an hour.
Another time when I called: 1 medium cucumber, peeled, sliced, 1/2 pint Greek yogurt, 1 T olive oil, 1 t vinegar, 1/2 t salt, 1 t chopped dill, 1 clove garlic. Chill.
Last summer when I called it was:
1/2 cucumber, diced, 1 clove garlic, strained Greek yogurt, 1/4 package of fresh mint chopped, salt and pepper, with really good olive oil.
My food never tastes as good as hers because she never really measures.
Kristie Konstantokopoulos Pattison

Eve Fox said...

Thanks for those yummy suggestions, Kristie! They all sound delicious. And I had no idea that you were half-greek!

Chef JP said...

Wonderful job on this recipe-- you really captured the spirt of summer cooking here!

Eve Fox said...

Thanks, Chef JP! :)

gkbloodsugar said...

I love Tzatziki; so easy to enjoy.

Salad looks fantastic. It reminds me of the stuff they have in Bulgaria.

Eve Fox said...

Me, too! I actually had that yummy bulgarian shopska salad that I'd had when I was in Sofia years ago in mind when I was hankering for it (even though the one I made did not have any cheese or peppers in it.)

Sophie said...

How fun to have been able to travel with your husband :). What a tasty recipe, it sounds so refreshing. I would love to feature this recipe on our Demy, the first and only digital recipe reader. Please email if you're interested. Thanks!

Yogurt Salad with Cucumbers said...

As I read Kristie Pattison's comments about Cucumber & Yogurt Salad With Herbs, I can say that evrey body has a way of cooking up a recipe that they like. In Lebanon we use almost the same method but with different ingredients and we consume it as an appetizer (with plain pita bread) instead of a dip.

Larry Jacobs said...

Loved the greek salad. We enjoyed a similar yogurt salad while traveling in Turkey. It was fun to find your recipe and recreate the dish. We substituted fresh chives instead of parsley and left out the red onion.

Anonymous said...

I added fresh mint and dill, both finely chopped, and it was delicious!

Chef Peter said...

I've been day-tripping through your salad recipes looking for ideas for the students at Vermont Academy when I came across this. Love the note about one company in the U.S. making Greek yogurt. How things have changed since 2008!! Thanks for the great ideas. Peter Ross, Director of Dining, Vermont Academy, Saxtons River, VT.

Eve Fox said...

Peter, a day trip through salad land - sounds like fun! Hope you found some things you like (and the students will like, too.)