Tzatziki is terrific as part of a Greek spread of appetizers, along with warm pita and olives, or it can function as a great side dish/sauce with grilled meats and fish
1 quart whole-milk yogurt (preferably made with sheep's milk)
1 European cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and finely diced with a few very thin slices for garnish
1 teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably kalamata)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill leaves plus dill sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar or more to taste
4 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1. Drain the yogurt through a very-fine meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth over a bowl for at least 2 hours at room temperature, and up to 1 day, covered, in the refrigerator. Discard the liquid that drains off.
2. While the yogurt is draining, place the cucumber and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander over a bowl and let drain for at least 1 hour at room temperature, and up to 1 day, covered, in the refrigerator. Squeeze batches of cucumber wrapped in kitchen towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Dry the cucumber on kitchen towels.
3. Stir together the drained yogurt and cucumber, the olive oil, minced dill, red-wine vinegar, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand for 1 hour before serving. Serve cool or at room temperature, garnished with the cucumber slices and dill sprigs.
Variations of this cucumber-and-yogurt dish are popular throughout the Middle East, Turkey (where it's called cacik), the Balkans, and Greece. The Greek version, such as this recipe, often contains more garlic than the others; cut back a bit if you're garlic-shy. Tzatziki is terrific as part of a Greek spread of appetizers, along with warm pita and olives, or it can function as a great side dish/sauce with grilled meats and fish. Dean & DeLuca carries a fantastic Greek-style sheep's-milk yogurt from Hollow Road Farms in Stuyvesant, New York, that is perfect for this dish. Makes about 2 1/2 cups