Easy recipe: Tzatziki a cucumber-cool Greek spread

Jennifer Mastroianni

Tzatziki is a yogurt-based spread that is a must with many Greek meals. It includes cucumbers, garlic, and mint with a touch of cumin, and is delicious on gyros, pita bread, fish, and more.

TZATZIKI

1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, or 2 medium cucumbers

4 cups (1 quart) whole milk or low-fat yogurt, drained in a yogurt cheese maker or cheesecloth for 24 hours

1 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic oil or olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice or rice wine vinegar

If your cucumbers are waxed, peel them. If not, no need to peel; just score them lengthwise with the tines of a fork.

Dice the cucumbers in 1/2-inch pieces. Layer them in three layers in a sieve, salting each layer. Place a plate or piece of plastic wrap on top, and put a weight on top: a heavy bottle, a jar filled with water, or something to press down on the cucumbers. Place the sieve in the sink, or in a bowl to catch liquid. Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature for several hours, until they’ve given up quite a bit of juice.

Mix the diced cucumbers with the remaining ingredients.

Chill for several hours, for the flavors to meld. Serve with bread sticks, crackers, pita bread, or as part of a Greek meze (assortment of small dishes).

If possible, store in your yogurt drainer, or in a sieve; the cucumbers will continue to give off liquid, and it’s nice to be able to drain it away as it collects.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups, about 10 servings.

The Repository