They go by many names – antipasto, mezze platter, crudite platter, charcuterie. These usually have a specific theme assigned to each but in our home we simply call them snack tray.
A snack tray meal often happens on a night we have overworked ourselves and have failed to take something out of the freezer. Not wanting to heat up the kitchen we resort to ravaging the fridge for bits and pieces of leftover and maybe making a simple cold dip. There are always slabs, slices or chunks of off the wall bread to add for the dipping part and there is almost always some bits of cheeses. Add something pickled and a meal is born.
Our snack trays are usually heavier on vegetable matter but this is what we had last night!
I have been especially fond of tzatziki since visiting Greece in 2006 with my sister. We stayed for the better part of a month and never tired of Greek cooking. I returned home with several tins of olive oil, a bag full of recipe books and the determination to prepare tzatziki, skordalia, spanakopita, baklava, saganaki, halvas, souvlaki and some of those delicious semolina cakes. .
You can sometimes find a very fine spanakopita in my kitchen along with several other items but tzatziki eluded me and I had given up on it. Every tzatziki recipe instructed to chop the cucumber and stir it into the Greek yogurt. Every time I ended up with a gloppy mess. And I gave up on tzatziki.
Recently I ran across a recipe that changed my tzatziki world. Strain the (Americanized) yogurt and grate and wring dry those cucumbers! It is magic!
The following recipe is what I make for the two of us for a single meal. It is far better fresh than day old.
1 – 1/2 cup plain yogurt, well strained (leaving about 3/4 cup yogurt)
1 medium-large cucumber
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mint, crushed
1 teaspoon dry dill, crushed
Measure and set the yogurt to drain in a wire mesh strainer over a bowl for about thirty minutes.
Meanwhile peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. I have a melon baller with a small spiky end that is perfect. Grate the cucumber on the coarse side of a cheese grater. Place the grated cucumber on a square of cheesecloth and gather the corners up. Turn the neck of the cheesecloth tight and squeeze over the sink until the cucumber is almost dry and no longer drips. You want to get rid of that fluid.
Prepare the garlic or you can use garlic powder or granules to your liking.
Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and stir well. Let sit for a half hour or so if you have time.
Tzatziki should be quite thick – not watery – and almost pungent. Serve it with naan, pita, crackers, your favorite crudites, souvlaki or as a dip with chips. Adjust the seasonings to suit your own taste. Do remember to use plain yogurt!
A few food related photos from our Greece trip.
If you try the tzatziki recipe let me know how it turns out for you!