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Greek yogurt dip – made with cucumbers and fresh garlic.
Making tzatziki is super quick and easy. Traditional Middle Eastern and Mediterranean tzatziki calls for strained goat or sheep yogurt. Strained yogurt is a type of thickened yogurt. Regular or Greek yogurt is more readily available and makes a delicious tzatziki.
Tzatziki is so versatile, it compliments most any meat, fish, vegetable, grain or bread. The possibilities are endless. To make homemade tzatziki you’ll want to strain your yogurt first to have a thicker base. A runny tzatziki is more like a dressing than a creamy dip. Straining yogurt takes time. If starting with Greek yogurt, it is a few hours and upwards of 14 hours if you are starting with regular yogurt.
If you don’t want to wait for time it takes to strain the yogurt, take a shortcut and use Greek yogurt and pour out the yellowish liquid on top of the yogurt (the whey).
If you only have regular yogurt and aren’t pressed for time, go ahead and strain the yogurt for about 14 hours to remove the excess liquid.
HOW TO STRAIN YOGURT
To strain yogurt, line a mesh sieve or fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or several layers of paper towels. Then spoon the yogurt into the lined sieve and place over a bowl to catch the dripping. Let the liquid from the yogurt drip for a few hours. If the yogurt drips in clumps you will need to double up the lining. It takes a few hours to strain Greek yogurt and 14 hours to strain regular yogurt.
USING THE WHEY
The yellowish liquid that comes out of the yogurt is whey. It is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein. There are so many uses for it, you don’t need to throw it away. Here are a few of my favorite uses for leftover whey.
Add whey to smoothies for a little extra protein.
If you want to be adventurous, use the whey to make ricotta cheese or cream cheese.
Soak grains in whey to make them more digestible.
Use whey as a substitute for other liquids when making pizza dough, pancakes, bread.
Use whey to keep feta cheese fresh.
Use whey to make lacto-fermented vegetables like pickles, kimchi or sauerkraut.
Feed whey to plants for added nutrition.
MAKING THE TZATZIKI
ADD THE CUCUMBER AND OTHER INGREDIENTS TO THE YOGURT
Grate your Cucumbers
Once you have your strained yogurt, from whichever method you choose, it is time to make your tzatziki. Start by grating an English seedless hot house cucumber or a few small Persian cucumbers with a box or other hand held grater. You don’t have to peel the skin. If you would like, cut the cucumber into small pieces and give a few pulses in your food processor. English and Persian cucumbers are milder in flavor so I prefer to use them for a great tasting tzatziki. Regular cucumbers have a waxy exterior and can taste bitter. For a chunkier tzatziki, cut the cucumber into 1/4 inch pieces.
Remove the Excess Liquid from your Cucumbers
To avoid a runny tzatziki sauce, squeeze the liquid out of the grated cucumbers. There are a few options:
-place the cucumber in a clean cloth towel and squeeze out the liquid;
-use your hands to squeeze the liquid out of the cucumber, a batch at a time over your sink or a bowl;
-press the grated cucumber into a fine mesh strainer or sieve over your sink or a bowl.
Combine Yogurt, Cucumber and other Ingredients
Transfer the cucumber to a serving bowl and pour the strained yogurt over it. Add to it the zest of 1 lemon, lemon juice, minced fresh garlic, salt and chopped fresh dill.
If you only have dried dill on hand, it is okay to substitute with the fresh for dried dill. The flavor will be a little less pronounced and the color won’t be as vibrant, but the taste will be still be delicious. Use a teaspoon of dried dill for one tablespoon of fresh dill.
To add some more flavor to the tzatziki, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh chopped mint. The flavors of tzatziki come together if it sits for a while before eating.
WAYS TO ENJOY TZATZIKI
The possibilities for tzatziki are endless. Tzatziki can be used as a sauce for fish, on a sandwich, with garlic roasted herbed potatoes and on sautéed vegetables. Or simply, serve as an appetizer with toasted pita chips and raw vegetables.
Refrigerate any unused tzatziki in a sealed container and enjoy within a few days.
Easy Delicious TzatzikiBlue Bicycle Kitchen
- 1 English (hothouse) cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers
- 1½ cups plain Geek yogurt, whole-milk, low-fat or non-fat
- 2 tbs fresh dill, chopped or 2 tsp dried dil
- 1 tsp lemon zest plus 1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbs fresh dill or mint chopped
- Grate the unpeeled cucumber using a box or other hand held grater. Remove the excess liquid out of the cucumber by squeezing it in a clean towel, or pressing into a fine mesh strainer. Alternatively can grate using a food processor or finely chop by hand into ¼ inch pieces.
- Squeeze the liquid out of the cucumbers using a clean cloth towel, your hands or by pressing into a fine mesh sieve.
- Transfer the cucumber to a serving bowl and add to it the strained yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Stir to combine.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle top with the dill or mint. Can leave oil and mint on top or stir into tzatziki.
- Let the tzatziki rest for at least 5 minutes to allow for flavors to come together.
- Serve with fresh raw vegetables (such as sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery) and with toasted pita that has been cut into triangles and brushed with olive oil.
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When Nonny cooked, there were no exact measurements or recipes. When my family would ask her, she would say a little of this and a little of that. handfuls, and pinches of the fingertips. My aunts would put the ingredients in her hands and then put them into a measuring cup or spoon to document.
These tender, juicy meatballs are a delectable combination of ground beef, turkey breast if you’d like, and seasoned with onions, garlic, parsley, eggs, milk, Parmesan cheese, and a hand-full of other herbs and seasonings.
These delicious and versatile meatballs are a perfect base of good old Italian cooking. It remains a staple in my family’s recipes, as it’s one to make everyone’s stomach very happy!
- 1 lb ground beef (can substitute turkey breast or use combination of the two)
- 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (to season, add to plain breadcrumbs; ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp dried basil, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp dried parsley.
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup whole milk (can use lower fat, however the higher the milk fat, the richer the taste.)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 2 tsp dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 450º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If do not linewith parchment, spray a light coat of oil. Set aside.
- Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine with your hands.
- Form into tablespoon size balls and place on baking sheet. Option to make larger or smaller depending on preference.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes on each side until lightly browned. To speed up browning, turn oven to broil for last few minutes.
- Meatballs should reach internal temperature of 170º F.
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Rather than serve only noodles for dinner, I topped Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles with an Asian Inspired Slaw Salad, using what I had on hand; cabbage, fennel, carrots and endive. Edamame, peas, celery, shredded broccoli make a delicious salad. It is all in the crunch and the dressing.
Chopped chicken breast or salmon is delicious with the noodle – slaw combination, but for last night, we opted to skip the meat and fish.
This version of cold noodles is easily modified to include whatever noodle you have on hand. For those watching carbs, it tastes great with Shirataki Noodles, made from the konjac plant. I used a combination of whole wheat spaghetti and Shirataki (cooking them separately), as this was all that I had on hand.
When making the sauce, if it is too thick, whisk in hot water, one tablespoon at a time until it is creamy and the texture of a dip or hummus.
Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles
- 10 ounces Chinese egg noodles, thin spaghetti or pad thai– style rice noodles
- 1 tbs peanut oil
- ⅓ cup peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 3 tbs rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds plus more for garnish
- 1 tbs honey
- 2 tbs fresh ginger, grated or 1 tbs ground ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 1 tbs sweet or hot chile sauce, to taste
- 1 English or 4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced and quartered
- 1 scallion or green onion, green part only, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 lime, quartered for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook about 8 minutes; they should be a bit chewy. Drain, rinse with cold water, and once cooled, toss with the peanut oil. To speed up the cooling off of noodles, can transfer to a bowl of ice water and let soak for 5 minutes until chilled. Drain again before tossing with the peanut oil.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, sesame seeds, honey, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and chile sauce.
- Add the chilled pasta to the sauce, fold in half of the cucumber, half of the scallion and half of the peanuts. Toss to coat the noodles.
- Divide into serving bowls. Garnish with cucumber, scallions, peanuts, mint and toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of lime.
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