Seasonal Flavors: Tzatziki

Tzatziki. Photo: Denise Zito.

There is nothing so refreshing in these hot summer months, as tzatziki, (and yes, if you’re wondering—I did need to look up how to spell it). Yogurt with cucumber, salt, and garlic. It has a little bite and a lot of creaminess, making it just perfect as a dip for pita bread, or a sauce for those garden vegetables, roasted or raw.

I don’t remember where I first tasted this simple yet delightful sauce. Doesn’t matter. As soon as I get my hands on some fresh cucumbers, I make it.

Making tzatziki always calls to mind the words of my late Sicilian godfather, who when a child did something less than stellar, would opine: “When you plant cucumbers, you get cucumbers.” We laughed.

Let me say a few words about cucumber skin and seeds.  Neither offend me so I always include them, but you can remove as you please. 


  • 1 medium cucumber, grated on the large side of a box grater
  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Swirl of olive oil
  • Paprika

Grate the cucumber over a sieve or colander, with a dish underneath to catch the juice.  

Squeeze the excess juice from the cucumber and save the juice. Refreshing to drink alone, and improved with a little gin, some mint and ice cubes.

Mix the yogurt and grated cucumber, then add the garlic and salt.

Ideally, you should cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to allow that garlic flavor to permeate the sauce.  However, you can also just finish it off and serve.

Scrape the sauce into a shallow serving bowl and top with a swirl of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.


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