Tzatziki Sauce by Larry Andersen

Tzatziki Sauce

for Gyros and Souvlaki

I have always been what my parents called a picky eater; I prefer to think of it as merely being selective. Dont get me wrong! I had to try this and that, new foods, at the dinner table to see if I liked them or not. I couldnt just turn down food - I had to try it. Some foods I ended up liking. Some other foods were unfit for my consumption. Fresh cabbage and cole slaw? yes. Sauerkraut a resounding no! Rutabegas and turnips? No way. Beets? I had to be really hungry. Lamb? Oh no, I just couldnt abide lamb. And so it was that I never had an interest in trying a gyro, a lamb sandwich on pita bread.

A few years ago, at the Plant City Florida Strawberry Festival , one of the food vendors offered gyros, the traditional lamb and chicken as well. I thought about it for awhile and then decide to see what the rest of the gyro was like, without the lamb, to see what I had been missing. I really enjoyed that chicken gyro and became determined to learn how to make them.

I did some research. Depending on the source, gyros are either Greek, Armenian, Israeli, Turkish, Cypriot or whatever the nationality of the writer making the claim. The gyro does exist in all those place and the gyro is pretty much the same all over except for the tzatziki sauce (a lot of different spellings, too). In most of the Middle East sheep or goats milk is used to make the yogurt. Also, most of the Middle East uses dill whereas Cyprus uses mint to season the tzatziki sauce. I prefer the dill but you can exchange them one for one if you like.

Tzatziki sauce, made from cows milk yogurt here in the Unite States, is often called cucumber sauce. Gyros and souvlaki are the usual use for the tzatziki but it is an excellent dressing for salads, especially Greek-style salads. It will become one of your favorite crudite vegetable dips in short order. The recipe doubles well.

Preparation: 20 minutes to make + refrigerator time Life Experience Recipe
Makes 4 servings
  • 1 8-ounce carton plain, Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, OR use prepared minced garlic, 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped dill weed, OR 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  1. Peel the cucumber. Slice lengthwise twice to make four quarters. Use your knife to scrape off all the seeds. Discard the seeds. Dice cucumber. Place in colander and lightly salt. Allow to drain for about 15 minutes. Lightly rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Peel and mince garlic, or use prepared, minced garlic.

  3. In a food processor or blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic; process until just well-combined but do not over process. Transfer to serving dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Make the night before for best flavor.

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Latest revision done December 2005
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