Tzatziki, Your Summer BFF
Guys. I got a hair cut. WHAT. This is, like, earth shattering.
Let me explain. I cut my hair maybe 3 times a year, due to a delicately balanced blend of laziness and cheapness. I LOVE my long hair (loved, I guess. Wahhh). It was finally long enough that I could do pretty much anything I wanted to with it– fishtails, milk maid braids, and I JUST learned how to make magical mermaid hair. So why would I get rid of it? Because I’ve had basically the same hair for 4 years. Every time I get my hair cut, I’m SO tempted to chop a bunch of it off just to try something new but I always chicken out. I finally went for it yesterday. My hairdresser was so bummed. She met me and 60 seconds later was trying to talk me out of cutting my hair. Which made me a little uncertain, but the next thing I knew she’d gone and hacked off a 6-inch ponytail and my hair barely touched my shoulders anymore and there was no turning back. !!! I really hope this wasn’t a product of my having just come from a killer exam and my brain being a puddle of mush in no position to do rational thinking. I’ll keep you posted.
Part of the reason I wanted to cut my hair was because summer is coming (although I can’t even get all my hair into a ponytail anymore, so that might not have been the best hot weather plan, but ANYhoo). Late spring may be my favorite season (I mean, pretty plants, not too hot but nice and warm, minimal rain– it’s perfect), but you can’t beat summer produce. I’M SO EXCITED. I’ve been stalking the block where our local farmer’s market sets up like a nut job. Rationally I know that it’s too soon for local farmers to have any produce to sell, but come ON GUYS it’s finally nice, bring on the tents and pretty flowers and the crazy karaoke guy with the worst voice I have ever heard– I want it all!
Luckily, the makings for some of my favorite summer foods are available all year long. But there’s nothing like making them with fresh ingredients that you know weren’t made in a sad little hothouse somewhere. Summer is so full of fresh, light flavors. In DC that’s especially clutch, because HOOBOY the humidity makes you feel like you won’t ever want to consume anything that isn’t lighter than air again.
I LOVE tzatziki. Probably to a disturbing degree, but in the summer it’s at least socially acceptable. At the bar where a bunch of us Hamilton grads do trivia, I get tzatziki for dinner every single time. The waitress doesn’t even ask me. I should probably feel weird about that, but I don’t. It’s so delicious, I refuse to hide our love. SO. I’m going to stop my mid-exams blathering and actually tell you how to make it. It’s so easy! It’s mostly just letting stuff sit. Which if you’re an Impatient Irma like me is IMPOSSIBLE, but real adults will probably be just fine.
- 1 1/2 c. Greek Yogurt (I’ve seen recipes that say you need full-fat, but that’s b.s.– I always use non-fat and it works just fine)
- 1 medium Cucumber, peeled and seeded
- 1 handful chopped Dill (I like a lot of dill, but you could certainly use less)
- 1 clove crushed Garlic
- 1 T. Lemon Juice
- 2-3 T. Olive Oil
- Pinch of Salt
Line a sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth and drain the yogurt for several hours; when it’s thickened to desired consistency (keep in mind that the cukes and olive oil will thin it out a bit, so let the yogurt get nice and thick), dump yogurt into a bowl and set aside. Finely chop cucumber (or pulse in a food processor if you want a smoother texture) and place in sieve. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and let drain for 5 minutes, then squeeze every drop of water you can get out of it (I did this first by pressing the cuke into the sieve itself, then transferred it to the cheesecloth and squeezed the heck out of it). Stir the cukes into the yogurt along with the dill, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Taste and adjust garlic/lemon juice/salt as needed. Store in the fridge (duh)– the longer it sits the stronger the flavors will get.
Tzatziki is absolutely delicious on pita chips, sliced veggies, and the like, you but you can also use it in more substantive meals. I bought a BIG bunch of dill to make this dip, so over the course of the next few days we had a lot of Greek-flavored meals. And no one was complaining because, umm, hello. You could make couscous, toss it with chopped dill, feta, and tomatoes, and then top it with a big dollop of tzatziki:
Or, you could bake salmon rubbed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped dill; bake it for 10-15 minutes; top it with a dollop of tzatziki and serve it with a quick side salad of feta, tomato, red onion, and an easy dressing (olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano):
Or you could just dive into a pool of tzatziki and eat your way out. Regardless, you come out of this unscathed and a winner because you’re eating tzatziki, social rules of conduct be damned.
Also, I should probably mention that this is healthy, in case that wasn’t obvious. A win in every column!