I wanted to prepare a simple salad for dinner this evening, so I made a cucumber salad with a really easy to make tzatziki dressing.
Prepping the cucumber takes only a few steps. I wash, chop, salt and pat dry the cucumber slices and they're good to go. The tzatziki sauce is made of dried mint, dill and yogurt and is seasoned with salt and pepper. If you want to make it extra rich, you can add some sour cream or crème fraîche. Mix them together and you're ready to serve. That's it. Easy never tasted so good.
Servings: 8 servings
3 English cucumbers
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or regular salt)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2-1/2 cups Greek-style yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
juice of one lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon dried mint (or 2 tablespoons of fresh mint)
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste (or plain garlic)
For the cucumber:
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove the seeds, which will create a cavity. Slice the cucumber into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, and place the cucumber slices on top. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides and let sit for 1 hour. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
For the Tzatziki sauce:
Place the shallot, ginger garlic paste (see tips), sugar, vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl. Let stand until the yogurt in ready.
In a large colander, place the yogurt in a double-layered cheese cloth. Wrap the yogurt in the cloth. Make a knot at the tip and suspend it over the colander using chopsticks. The colander is not essential but is quite convenient if the knot breaks, so you can gather the yogurt again in the cheese cloth without starting over. Place a larger bowl underneath the colander to collect the whey (yogurt liquid). Let it sit for a couple of hours. Drain as much liquid as possible.
Carefully unwrap the yogurt and transfer to a bowl. Add the shallot / garlic mixture, the herbs and oil. Season with sea salt and both peppers.
Combine the cucumbers with the tzatziki sauce or serve the sauce on the side. Garnish with extra dill.
If the calories don't frighten you, you can mix only 2 cups of yogurt and add 1/2 cup of crème fraîche .
When I make cucumber salad, I usually scoop out the seeds as they make the sauce watery. Some people like to peel cucumbers; I usually peel 2-3 strips around the vegetable, using a vegetable peeler. If you use the small variety (such as Persian or Mediterranean cucumbers), it's recommended to peel them entirely as the cucumber skin is waxed to seal in moisture for longer shelf life at the market.
If you like the salad to be spicy, you can add 1 tablespoon of chopped Serrano chile to the yogurt sauce.
You don't have to use champagne vinegar but for the aesthetic of the dish, a white vinegar (or lemon juice) is preferable.
You can use different oil. I find that avocado oil enhances the dish and it's also good for your heart. You can buy avocado oil at a cheaper price at Middle Eastern markets. The ones at stores like Whole Foods cost 3 times as much.
Pink peppercorns have a delicate, fragrant, sweet, and spicy flavor. They are reminiscent of a mild citrus zest and sweet berries. Pink peppercorns work especially well in fruit sauces, vinaigrettes and desserts. These peppercorns have a rich rose color that adds an elegant appearance to any cuisine.
Little reminder on how to make ginger garlic paste: It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. I always have a jar on hand in the refrigerator. Just clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife and finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, adding about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.