This Sonoma County version of the classic, Greek cucumber salad is my pick for an accompaniment to a meal of garlicky lamb and Pinot Noir. The base of a Tzatziki recipe is the aphrodisiac of cucumber.
The health benefits of cucumber
You may think cucumber is just a crunchy, water-packed fruit of summer. (And yes, cucumber is actually a fruit, not a vegetable.) But cucumber is considered by some nutritional experts to be a culinary fountain of youth. It contains an ingredient called silica. Silica supports connective tissue health which is vital to flexibility, coordination and overall hotness.
What is Tzatziki?
You may not know Tzatziki by name, but you’ve probably encountered some version of this cucumber dish. It’s a dish made with a base of strained yogurt. In fact, according to Philos Kitchen, the first Tzatziki recipe was probably made to use up the excess of yogurt production. The yogurt is mixed with cucumbers, garlic salt, olive oil and sometimes lemon juice to make a dip, sauce or salad, depending on how you prepare the cucumbers.
In this variation on a traditional Tzatziki recipe, Allie cuts the cucumbers in salad-sized rounds and uses sour cream instead of yogurt to make a Tzatziki-style salad dressing. If you prefer, you can substitute strained, whole milk yogurt for the sour cream. She also uses vinegar instead of lemon juice. This is a great tip for those of us who can’t get lemons year round. But if your lemon supply is abundant, feel free to experiment with lemon in place of the vinegar.
Although we tend to think of Tzatziki as Greek, variations on the dish are popular throughout the Middle East. According to Wikipedia, a Turkish version is seasoned with some combination of Aleppo pepper, sumac, paprika and mint.
The many variations of a traditional Tzatziki recipe
Other variations may include ingredients such as walnuts, dill, parsley and lemon juice. But all share the same tart, tangy, creamy base and the crunch of fresh cucumbers. Allie’s version, finished with a touch of Tajin, a spice blend of chile, salt and lime, probably most closely resembles a Turkish Tzatziki recipe. However this spicy addition is most definitely Californian, not to mention aphrodisiac, since it brings endorphin-releasing spice to the dish.
If that doesn’t have you craving a great Tzatziki recipe, perhaps viewing the rest of the menu will whet your appetite for this garlicky cucumber salad. The recipe was created as a part of my very first Wine Salon. Oh, and if you want the full experience, be sure to serve this stunning cucumber salad with Ketcham Estate wines!
- 3 large english cucumbers peeled and sliced very thin
- 1 large red onion sliced into thin slivers
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 Tbsp white vinager
- Place sliced cucumbers and onion in large mixing bowl.
- Add the minced garlic and salt to a small bowl. Mash together with a fork.
- Add sour cream and vinegar. Mix well.
- Pour over cucumber and onions and toss to throughly coat.
- Cover and chill for 3 hours.
- Season with salt and pepper and perhaps Tajin seasoning before serving.
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