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i get it when i can

Recipe: tzatziki

I’m talking about calcium! Minds out of the gutter, please…

But before we get to the recipe, there is the business of the giveaway. Today is the last day to leave a comment on this post to enter the $100 giftcard giveaway. If you have not yet entered… what is wrong with you!?

Oh! I’d also like to share some images from Thursday morning with you. Continental Divide, snow storm, white out conditions, high winds, and early season alpine flowers – all in a typical June day in Colorado.

our destination – up and into the white

snowing the whole time

snowing across the valley

snowing harder

what a blast!

glacier lily

Now about that calcium… My biggest concern about my diet is how much calcium I get. I am lactose-intolerant. For those people who think it’s “in my head”, why don’t you hang around with me after I’ve had some ice cream and tell me it’s “in my head”? I actually think being lactose intolerant is a bit of a good thing because it keeps me away from things super-fattening foods I would otherwise overdose on like heavy cream, sour cream, ice cream – those beautiful, dairy, and creeeeeamy foods. *sigh*

What I can eat is yogurt. Yogurt and I aren’t like bffs, but it delivers on the calcium without making me ill (because the lactose has already been digested), and I enjoy the taste and texture. We’re more like officemates who occasionally hang out beyond the workplace. Last month I was asked to try some Oikos organic Greek yogurt by Stoneyfield Farms. They sent me coupons for a few free samples, information on the company (which I had requested), and a great little tote bag that I’ve been using since we’ve lost a second (!) Trader Joe’s canvas bag. [This is upsetting for me as TJ’s doesn’t make these anymore. We’ve lost two and people have taken two and I’m just a little pissed off here.]

I use quite a bit of plain yogurt as a condiment or with fruit and granola, so I was anxious to try their plain version as I had never tasted Greek yogurt before. I picked up one of the small Oikos blueberry (fruit on the bottom) yogurts and felt meh about it. Straight yogurt isn’t really my thing, but I wasn’t expecting Oikos to change that. What I’ve been wanting to make (but was too lazy to bother with straining regular yogurt) was tzatziki. And I knew just the source for any Greek recipe – Peter.

yogurt, cukes, dill, salt, garlic

scrape out the cucumber guts

I didn’t have any Ouzo and for that, I hang my head in shame. I hope Peter can forgive me. I pulsed the gutted cucumber in the food processor to a fine mince and sprinkled some sea salt over it. While that sat for 30 minutes to leech water out of the flesh, I crushed a garlic clove and mashed it into a paste with some salt.

weep! weep!

garlic paste – it’s smooooooth

I’m not a huge fan of squeezing liquids out of foods – just not how I like to spend my time. However, it is worth it in this case. When the cucumber was ready, I squoze the living daylights out of it. Then I mixed it in with the garlic, chopped dill, and the yogurt. Oooh, that yogurt is creamy stuff with a mild tang that doesn’t leave an annoying film on my tongue. I like it much more than other plain non-fat yogurts I’ve eaten and if I ever need strained yogurt, this is the one I’m reaching for.

the exciting part!

A little drizzle of olive oil on top and dinner was good to go! This is such a great and refreshing recipe to have on hand in summer. Even Jeremy liked it (and he shies away from white condiments).

I have always loved Greek food, but there is this intimidation factor because I’m Chinese and I see the way some non-Chinese butcher Chinese recipes and I don’t want to do the same to Greek recipes (same for Viet, Korean, Thai, Lebanese, Moroccan, Indian, etc.). What I love about food bloggers is that I have trusted sources whose recipes take me by the hand and help me step out of my comfort zone to expand my world (food) view. Thanks Peter!

i had been dreaming of tzatziki all week

[print recipe]
from Peter Minakis of Kalofagas

16 oz. (500g) plain yogurt, strained
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and grated (or 2-3 Lebanese cucumbers)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps fresh dill, chopped
splash of Ouzo
extra virgin olive oil

If your yogurt isn’t already strained, Peter recommends placing regular plain yogurt in a strainer over a pot and letting it strain for 12 hours. Grate or pulse the cucumber in a food processor and sprinkle it with salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes. I like to mash my minced garlic into a paste by sprinkling some salt on top and crushing the salt into the garlic with the flat of a sturdy knife blade. When the cucumber is ready, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands or using a cheese cloth (do this in batches unless you have a GIANT hand). Place the cucumber, garlic, dill, and yogurt in a bowl and mix together. Season with salt and if you have some, Ouzo, to taste. Serve with a little olive oil drizzled over the top.

55 nibbles at “i get it when i can”

  1. Steve says:

    Hey Jen! Were the Trader Joe’s bags red? This recipe looks delish and so does the snow! Excited for the giveaway drawing!

  2. Peter says:

    Jen, the Tzatziki look fabulous – you did this Greek standard justice and no need to worry about the Ouzo. My neighbor showed me this twist (which I love) and I’ve added it in ever since.

    Thank you so much for the the shout-out…dinner’s on me!

  3. MJ says:

    I’m lactose intolerant too. I sometimes want to punch people who don’t understand. It can be extremely uncomfortable to eat dairy. Although I must admit I’m a glutton for punishment and cannot stay away. You always want what you can’t have, right? I also find homemade yogurt even more tolerable than storebought. I think some brand rely more on thickeners than bacteria.

  4. Crystal says:

    I’ve been having this with hummus and a greek-salad-inspired chicken salad at least three lunches a week lately… I love yogurt and eat mostly Stonyfield’s plain whole milk or low fat yogurt, and I agree with you about Oikos — I’m not crazy about it plain, but it’s great in recipes. I do wish they would come out with a higher-fat Oikos for recipes that need that.

  5. Manggy says:

    Hah! I recall one story I read where the tzatziki in a restaurant was consistently horrible, when they’d discovered that their one of their staff was diligently salting the cucumber, then throwing out the solids and adding the liquid to the yogurt! Lol.
    I’m not very well-versed in Greek food either, but there’s the added burden of Greek ingredients being a little more expensive here. But yeah, when I get the chance I know where to turn to! :)

  6. Amy says:

    It’s hard for me not to pack up some belongings and head immediately to colorado everytime I read your blog. It looks so amazing there and your pictures are always incredible.

  7. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    I love tzatziki and Peter’s recipe is my favorite! I smear it on everything from grilled salmon to gyros. It looks fabulous!

  8. TheKitchenWitch says:

    YUM! I love all things tzatziki (well, except for dill, for some reason?) Yours/Peter’s looks delish.

  9. Tartelette says:

    Tzatziki is one of my favorite add-ons to any grilled dinner during the summer! So refreshing! I got to say though that I am eyeing those gorgeous falafels!!
    What a gorgeous hike Jen! Yes, your backyard (or close) is truly outstanding!

  10. Fiona says:

    That last paragraph could have been written about your blog, too. I said to Mother the other night that I feel like I can *try* to make some Chinese things because you’ll show me how. And I almost bought pickled vegetables at the Asian market Thursday (the *new* Asian market I found. Did I mention that?? OMG.)

    I love Tzaziki, and would use Fage, which is my Greek yogurt of choice. We feed the full-fat to the baby, with mix-ins like jam, lemon curd, and blueberries. Oikos is good, too.

  11. Maria says:

    I love tzatziki. It is great with so many things. Again, I love your photos!

  12. Ashley says:

    This looks amazing! A good friend of mine is Greek and his grandmother makes some of the best food I’ve ever had. You’re pictures are making me impatient for my vacation to Colorado in August. I’m counting down the days!

  13. Kathy says:

    the entire meal looks delicious!

  14. Shannon L says:

    tzatziki with pita and greek salad and im a happy girl, thanks for the recipe, it looks delicious

  15. cindy says:

    your hike photos are stunning! i have one of those totes too (yellow emblazoned with the logo?), it’s huge and so handy to roll up and stash in my bag, i think i love it more than the yogurt vouchers…

  16. Diane says:

    Love the Colorado photos! The tzatz looks great too! I like to strain the yogourt for a slightly thicker consistency.

  17. Rosa says:

    Those pictures really fill me with joy! I love mountains! So beautiful…

    Mmmhhh, tzatziki! Always welcome at my place!

    Cheers and have a great weekend,


  18. Wend says:

    So when are you going to share the Falafel Recipe? ;)

  19. Lezel Safi says:

    Looks scrumptious….will defintely look for that Stoneyfield Greek here in OK….that good yougurt is sometimes hard to find!

  20. Mia says:

    Looks good! Fresh mint is also very tasty in tzatziki. Speaking of Trader Joe’s, though: they have the best plain yogurt I’ve had in a while. No thickeners, and a very creamy consistency (even though it’s non-fat). It isn’t strained, but I find it much creamier and tastier than non-fat Greek yogurt.

  21. Anh says:

    Oh so cold! We just started to have colder days in Australia and I already feel under the weather. I like my yoghurt to be really creamy without the naughty starch or gelatine! We have some really good brands here and I love them.

  22. Irene says:

    I love tzadziki! I especially love the different variations, the Indian, Greek, Egyptian, etc. The great garlic vs. no garlic debate still rages on among my friends! I also really liked the Oikos yogurt, it was mild and not as sour as some other Greek yogurt brands I’ve tried.

  23. Leah says:

    I *love* greek yogurt. My favorite is Fage, plain and and definitely full fat!

  24. Pearl says:

    oikos is so yum!

  25. Kristin says:

    Like The Kitchen Witch, I don’t care for dill. Do you think Mia’s suggestion of mint would work? Haven’t tried Oikos, but I love Fage nonfat Greek yogurt…and I normally can’t stand any kind of yogurt. The felafel is making me hungry…I’m out of town for training & just had a very bitter eggplant entree & am sitting in my hotel room feeling sorry for myself & wanting a treat!

  26. charlane says:

    yummmmmm i love this stuff

  27. farmerpam says:

    Love tzadziki, must make some today, thanks for reminding me…..

  28. Fung Lee says:

    My goal this summer to plan my adopted daughter’s reunion with all the families we traveled to adopt our little girls.
    It will be our 10th Anniversary. The girls call themselves “The Shanghai Five”. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years

  29. Diana Merrell says:

    Love your blog. Looks delish.

  30. dawn says:

    I am known to put this crazy-addicting sauce on almost everything: my hummus rollups, roast beef sammies, spicy chutney w/ crackers, oh I could go on and on.
    Love those hiking photos, I could use a good hike to escape and chill.

  31. katie says:

    Are those falafel? Did you make them? I want a good falafel recipe!

  32. Y says:

    Love that expanse of white in those photos, followed by that refreshing pic of the lily dripping in dew.
    I haven’t tried Ouzo in my tzatziki before. Good tip to remember for next time!

  33. Laurel says:

    I’m lactose intolerant too and have been for many years. I can’t believe that people still don’t get it. Lucky for you though that the yogurt doesn’t disagree with you. I ate it for years thinking that it was fine since it was predigested. When I stopped I lost 40 pounds. No joke! I see you don’t have that problem but lactose can be a very insidious thing. It can also be just about impossible to replace in baked goods without sacrificing all of the taste. I guess that’s what extra vanilla and spices are for, right? That is unless you have a better idea?

  34. Bethany says:

    Squoze is a great word :-)

    Delicious recipe for something I have always had to buy at the store! Can’t wait to make my own…

  35. Val says:

    I love Peter’s tzatziki sauce. I’ve been using this sauce on everything – including grilled burgers with greek seasonings. Excellent!

    You’re pictures always take my breath away. Don’t know which I admire more, the scenery or the energy of the photographer for exploring & finding these shots.

    I’d like to enter your contest. My summer plans are to force myself to walk daily & build up my endurance so I can start working out & taking yoga this fall. Recently I noticed I was almost 300lbs & so embarrassed that I make up excuses not to leave the house so no one sees me. I’m ready for a change. ;o}

  36. Lori says:

    Uh-huh- sure you were talking about calcium. Uh huh.

    My DH is lactose intolerant. It s a bummer. Skim milk in the am… the rest of the day, yogurt, etc.

    Tzatziki is so good isnt it? I love it. but I have never had it with ouzo. Hmmm, maybe that is the missing ingredient.

  37. sara says:

    Mmmmm, this looks SO delicious! :)

  38. Simone (junglefrog) says:

    Now I would never have thought of adding ouzo to tzatziki but it sounds like a perfect addition. But… is the english cucumber different from the dutch one? I would guess not right?

  39. Pat says:

    My son and daughter-in-law and baby grandson live in Denver, Colorado. Such beautiful country out there. Your photos are amazing!

    Your tzatziki looks yummy! I love falafel too!

  40. Andrea says:

    I am a freak about my yogurt. I eat it pretty much every morning for breakfast and my market recently started carrying a brand that is actually made in Boulder and is the BEST I have ever had! The brand it Rachels and no, I do not work for them, but I should because I am always stalking people in the dairy isle and telling them how good it is. I am afraid people aren’t going to buy it bacuse the flavors are a little strange and then my market will get rid of it. They already stopped carrying my favorite flavor, Pink Grapefruit Lychee. Anyway, if you are even in the mood for a fruit yogurt you should give it a try!

  41. Kevin says:

    Great looking tzatziki! I like the splash of ouzo.

  42. jo says:

    This looks extremely scrumptious and great as finger food. I lalso ove the pictures of all the snow especially the view the top. I’ll swap it for the heat we are currently getting here in Singapore.

  43. Allison Day says:

    I’m lactose intolerant too… have you tried using Lactaid pills? They work wonders for me. I just can’t do without my cheese, milk, ice cream… ;)

  44. Twila M. says:

    Have you every tried skyr??! It is the Icelandic version of yogurt, and it is super rich and creamy and high protein, low fat. Truly wonderful! I’m not sure who might carry it in the US/Boulder, but it is worth searching for!

  45. JessW says:

    Oh, one of my favorites! Thanks so much for posting this, I have been looking for a good recipe!

  46. Melissa says:

    Peter is definitely the go to guy on the Greek stuff. I got the coupons for Oikos too, but haven’t used them yet. Need to get on that and what better way than tzatziki? I like it, but have only had mediocre versions. This looks so much better. Steve shies away from white condiments too, so you saying that Jeremy liked it is encouraging.

  47. Dimitra says:

    Your tzatziki is delicious! I love your blog (Peter’s as well), I have already tried many of your recipes with great success! Thank you.
    Kisses from Greece.

  48. jenyu says:

    Steve – nope, they were the canvas kind which they don’t make anymore :( poo.

    Peter – awww, thanks! I feel much better with your seal of approval :)

    MJ – I haven’t made it that far to homemade yogurt, but I’m tempted!

    Crystal – Yes, I’m not a huge fan of plain yogurt plain, but I do like it in recipes.

    Manggy – ugh, that’s AWFUL! a ha ha! Hi-larious too.

    Amy – thanks!

    Susan – Tzatziki and Peter are both awesome, aren’t they? :) Mmm, gyros…

    TKW – I’m a dill nut. Can’t help it – probably all those pickles ;)

    Tartelette – yes, it really is refreshing on grilled food! Good to keep in mind. Those falafels… I have yet to blog a recipe yet b/c I haven’t made them yet – these? store bought :) hee hee.

    Fiona – that’s awesome! Love Asian markets as they are a complete mishmash of stuff. No one store carries the same stuff as any other (i.e. Chinese Fire Drill). Haven’t tried Fage. I’m just now trying Rachel’s flavored yogurts for brekkie.

    Maria – thank you :)

    Ashley – Greek grandmas are amazing. Oh boy, I just love Greek food – it’s sooo good. Enjoy your trip to CO!

    Kathy – thanks!

    Shannon – yes, isn’t that the best combo?

    Cindy – I am digging on the totes. I guess I shouldn’t get too attached (seeing as they keep walking off!)

    Diane – thanks! Didn’t think of straining the Greek yogurt, but maybe I should try – soooo creamy.

    Rosa – yum :) thanks!

    Wend – I’ll share it as soon as I actually make it :) These were store bought (hey, sometimes I get tired too – hee hee).

    Lezel – yup. Although, I’ve begun noticing so many other varieties and brands here… More than I thought!

    Mia – wow, good to know. I’ll keep that in mind if Trader Joe’s EVER GETS TO COLORADO :)

    Anh – yes, I can’t stand the texture of yogurts with those thickeners added in.

    Irene – Oh, I definitely must have garlic – looooooove garlic :)

    Leah – great! Will have to try that one, thanks!

    Pearl – :)

    Kristin – I think this is the sort of recipe you can have your way with and enjoy all at the same time :) Sure, try mint. Love mint. Mmmm, mint.

    Charlane – me too :)

    Farmerpam – sure thing.

    Fung Lee – oops, sorry – wrong post and you also missed the close off deadline. Maybe next time.

    Diana – thanks!

    Dawn – and I think you are TOTALLY justified. It’s GOOD stuff!

    Katie – yes! and no! and hopefully I will get one up in the next few weeks! :)

    Y – thanks, sweetie.

    Laurel – wow, I cannot believe it had such an effect on you! I don’t eat yogurt often enough that it would make a difference, but wow! Nope, I don’t have better ideas. I can eat dairy in baked goods without too much trouble. Odd thing – sometimes ice cream has a very bad effect on me and other times it’s just mild…

    Bethany – yes, make your own and you will see how much better it tastes and how much cheaper it is :)

    Val – awww, thanks! Sorry about the contest – it was already past the closing deadline, however I encourage you to get out and walk. It is SUCH a great form of exercise and it’s really really good for you. Probably better than running (too much shock on your joints). So go get it, hon!

    Lori – Skim can sometimes do funny things to me as well. It’s all very.. annoying ;)

    Sara – :)

    Simone – It sounds good, doesn’t it? I have no idea what a Dutch cucumber is like, but I think the important thing is to make sure you get as much water out of it as possible :)

    Pat – thanks!

    Andrea – I just tried some Rachel’s on your recommendation. It’s nice! I just wish the lychee and grapefruit were a little stronger (yup, they have it here still). Thanks for suggesting it!

    Kevin – thanks, hon.

    Jo – ha ha, no deal, no swap! I hate the heat – which is why I like living here :)

    Allison – oh dear, the lactaid pills seem to shift everything downward a bit for me… :( then again, it’s been 12 years since I’ve tried it…

    Twila – Haven’t seen it, but I haven’t looked for it either. Sounds great! Thanks.

    JessW – you’re welcome! But thank Peter :)

    Melissa – Isn’t he awesome? Hope Steve likes this version. It’s quite good.

    Dimitra – thank you!!

  49. Nichole says:

    Oh no! I am one of the stinkers that still has one of your canvas Trader Joe bags! I promise that I haven’t forgotten or taken for my very own *giggle* I put it in my car so that the next time I saw you I would have it. When a few weeks went by without seeing each other, I brought inside to put into a big envelope mailer. I was actually going to mail it to you, but I thought you’d tease me for doing that and for feeling bad about forgetting last time we met up. Bottom line, it has been way too long since we’ve seen each other and I have your bag, well cared for and waiting to be returned to you. Did you get my email about the Boulder County Farm dinners…they look right up our alley. Maybe Jennifer and Brad would join us too?

  50. Caitlin says:

    What a coincidence! I use you for my Chinese recipes – can’t stand most Chinese, thanks to you :P But I absolutely love Greek yogurt. Can’t eat it by itself (texture issues), but it’s absolutely fabulous with pomegranate seeds or any other fresh fruit.

  51. jenyu says:

    Nichole – ah ha ha! No, it’s not you :) The bag you have is accounted for. xxoo

    Caitlin – awww, you’re sweet. I think most people who say they don’t like Chinese have only eaten that day-glo Americanized crap. One day if you come this way, you’ll have to eat at MY house :)

  52. Luney says:

    I feel your pain on the butchering of other cultures’ foods, bit. I’m Japanese and when I encounter other peoples’ ideas of “Teriyaki”… well, it just makes a girl want to cry, snobbery aside. So when I find something that looks good in a cookbook, I can’t help but cringe and wonder whos’ ancestors are rolling over in their graves and wailing at the injustice of it all. I eat Italian food and think… Is this really Italian? It tastes good but is it REALLY Italian!?!?!? I had friends from Italy (or EE-tahlee, as she said it) and BOY, what they had to say about the food here.

    And I myself am lactose intolerant. Not horribly, but it took a while to figure out why I felt so horrid after a simple vanilla soft-serve cone. But yogurt is an excellently yummy source of calcium. I will definitely be trying this recipe.

    AND those are some very lovely mini falafel there. Must try my hand at the ‘lafel someday, too.

  53. Deb in Indiana says:

    I love tzatziki, too, and have found that the best way to squeeze out the liquid is to use a potato ricer. Works a charm.

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  55. jchel says:

    i hate regular yogurt but have found a new love for greek yogurt. i have started substituting it for anything calling for sour cream or even milk/cream in most of my recipes. i will brown some finley diced onions and mushrooms with a little fresh garlic and then add the yogurt and use that as my “cream” base in rice/pasta/casserole dishes – soo yummy. my families favorite meal right now is chicken breasts pounded flat, dipped in greek yogurt mixed with herbs and then lightly dusted with whole wheat flour – bake or pan fry- yummo!

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