Cucumber Yogurt Dip: A Less Strong Version of Tzaki
Today I’m sharing one of my family’s heirloom favorites: cucumber yogurt dip or spread. It is one of the most popular recipes from my cooking classes.
The yogurt used in the recipe was a common food in Biblical times. Many of the trendy foods today touted as healthy have their roots in the Bible. Yes, the Bible! As an herbal scholar, I have researched Bible herbs for years, and have even devoted a portion of my herb garden to biblical herbs. Living links to our past, many of the herbs, spices and foods common to the “hot” cuisines of today are mentioned in the bible.
In Bible times, garlic was eaten as a vegetable! Cilantro seed (coriander) was put into Egyptian tombs and has stayed viable as a seed thousands of years later.
Sea salt, the darling of chefs today, is loaded with vitamins and minerals (that’s why you can always use less).
Cucumber Yogurt Dip
Similar to the Greek Tzaki, but less pungent, this is a typical mezza, appetizer in Lebanon. Homemade yogurt is usually used, but a good quality purchased yogurt is fine. Go to taste on this.
You can always add more of the herbs. If you are using dry herbs, use less. Note that I am giving lots of optional herbs here.
My Mother’s recipe simply used garlic and mint. I love to add other bible herbs as indicated below for layers of flavor.
2 cups plain yogurt
½ English cucumber, diced finely
½ to 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Mint: two sprigs, 2” long each
Dill: two sprigs, 1” long each (opt)
Cumin: ½ to 1 teaspoon (opt)
Cilantro: one sprig, 2” long (opt)
Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper to taste
Mix all together. Serve with flat bread, olives and crudités of your choice.
Use cucumber yogurt dip instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches. I love to stuff pita halves or make wraps with flat bread or tortillas, using seasonal fresh chopped veggies to make a delicious vegetarian sandwich. (Try chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, olives, sprouts, red onion, carrots, celery, etc.).
Stop at the salad bar and make it easy on yourself, picking out your favorite veggies there. Cucumber yogurt dip is also delicious as a spread on roast beef sandwiches or as a topping for baked or broiled seafood.