In the dog days of summer, there is nothing more excruciating than laboring over a fiery stove or sticking your hands (& face) into a 375 degree oven. So in an effort to stay cool, I self-imposed a “No-Cook, No-Bake” challenge. Meaning out of the 3-4 creations coming out my experimental kitchen every weekend, one dish CANNOT be the product of the stove or oven. This weekend, I was inspired by my recent travels to the heavenly Greek Islands (separate blog post to follow on the local eats and feasts!), so I decided to make a refreshing Tzatziki to remember my blissful days under the Grecian Sun.
A few simple ingredients + a little labor of love, and Voila! A super-addicting dip that will be sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any summer gathering. As a plus, it also received my Greek friend’s “authentic stamp of approval”. So without further ado:
Tricks of the Trade:
- 32 oz of Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani – my fave brand)
- 2-3 large or 4-5 medium cucumbers, grated
- 1 handful of fresh dill leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
- 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
The Magic Potion:
- Strain the yogurt in a cheesecloth (or sturdy paper towels) over a big bowl to let liquid drain for about 30 min to 1 hour in the fridge (I’ve skipped this step before and it still turns out fine, but just make sure you have a very thick yogurt to begin with)
- Strain the grated cucumbers in a cheesecloth by squeezing out all the liquid. Do this until most of the liquid is drained from the cucumbers
- Mix the yogurt and cucumber together. Add in the dill, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper and mix well.
- Let sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (1 hour MINIMUM) for flavors to develop. This is the most critical step, but given the short prep time and the amazing flavorful results, it will be worth the wait!
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There is nothing like a refreshing Gazpacho soup to cool you down on a hot summer night! Delicious summer veggies like fresh cucumbers, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and zesty cilantro blend together for a thirst-quenching, feel-good meal or appetizer. For me, summer is never complete without Gazpacho – it evokes memories of BBQs and relaxing summer evening dinners on the deck. Plus it keeps your tummy tight for bikini season and the no-cook factor eliminates the need to slave over a hot stove on a humid August day.
This dish is low maintenance, versatile, and yet still packs a punch with the right combination of herbs and spices!
- 2-3 tomatoes (heirloom or other) OR 28oz canned diced/crushed tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 bell pepper (red/yellow/orange/green)
- 1 small white/yellow onion
- 1/2 can corn kernel
- 1 cup cilantro (chopped)
- 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- chili powder (i use 4 Tbsp but that’s b/c i just like it hot!)
- basil (fresh or dried)
1. Coarsely chop veggies
2. Saute onions
3. Combine all ingredients together
4. Puree 1/2 to 3/4 with a blender/food processer/hand blender
5. Chill in fridge for a couple hours
Now for the Tips and Variations:
- The longer it chills, the longer the flavors have to develop. This dish also freezes amazingly well
- If using a hand blender (like me) cut into petite cut (1 cm sq cubes) first so you don’t end up with overly chunky pieces
- You can choose to blend it all if you like the puree style, or blend less of it if you like the chunky texture
- Feel free to subsitute red wine vinegar for: white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, (fruitier taste), apple cider vinegar, lemon, or lime
- If you are one of those who can’t stand cilantro (apparently it’s very polarizing), you can substitute with parsley.
- For a sharper, lemony taste, add dill. For heartier taste, try tarragon or oregano
- Other veggies you can add: celery, jalapenos, olives
- Adding fruits like pineapple and mango will give this dish a sweet fruity twist!
Enjoy and stay cool!
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