Tzatziki — a yogurt dish with many names across countries and cultures
Traditional cucumber-yogurt sauces go by many names all over the world. The Lebanese know it as khiyar bi laban; Persians love their maast-o khiar with kebabs; in Turkey you’ll find Cacık served along spiced meatballs; while in India, raita enhances so many dishes. But in Greece, there is only tzatziki.
Traditional tzaziki weaves together thick Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic, lemon (or vinegar), and dill. It’s tasty. It’s versatile, and therefore has many applications. It can stand alone as a spread to accompany fresh bread or crudités, pairs perfectly with grilled meats and vegetables, and is a lovely accompaniment to other dishes like spanakopita.
Variations on classic tzatziki
In Opa! The Healthy Greek Cookbook, my writing partner Theo Stephan offers up her recipe which subs in olives for the cucumber and an assortment of herbs in place of dill to make a rich, savory combination.
In this Sun-Dried Tomato Tzatziki recipe, I’m presenting another variation on the classic. Instead of cucumbers, this weaves in beautiful, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, which offer a perfect bright compliment to the dill and garlic. The colorful spread has all the same applications as its traditional cousin. For the dinner parties I cook for my Los Angeles personal chef clients, I serve it with my Kolokithokeftedes (Baked Zucchini Patties). The color of the tomatoes contrasts beautifully with the green zucchini, and makes a beautiful display.
Do you have your own variation of tzatziki? Let me know in the comments.