Photo by Aglaia Kremezi
In this fresh-tasting dip, the cooling taste of yogurt complements the bite of the garlic. It is the ideal side dish or relish for barbecue. Tzatziki seems to have its roots in Persian cuisine, and in its more common form it is made with just cucumber. You can also make it with shredded carrots and any other crunchy seasonal vegetable, or a combination of different ones. Use dill, fresh mint or any herb you like. Serve with sticks of raw vegetables, with chips or crackers, or accompany fried fish or vegetables.
Makes 6 to 8 servings (about 4 cups)
• 1 small cucumber, peeled, grated and drained
• 2/3 cup finely shredded fennel (1 small or 1/2 large bulb; fronds and tender stalks reserved, if desired; see below)
• 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 to 1 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced, or plenty of freshly ground white or black pepper
• 2 cups thick Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel fronds plus tender stalks, or fresh dill
• 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Squeeze the grated cucumber, pressing it hard between your hands to extract most of its juices. In a medium bowl, mix the cucumber with the shredded fennel, garlic, jalapeño chiles or pepper and yogurt. Add the chopped fennel or dill (reserve 1 teaspoon for garnish), 1 tablespoon lemon juice and salt to taste and stir well to mix. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper, if needed.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 3 hours before serving. (If the cucumber sits longer, it will release more liquid.)
Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the reserved fennel or dill.