A cucumber confession started my last food section column.
Despite my lifelong fondness for pickles, I’ve only discovered fresh cucumbers — even garden-grown ones — in the last few years. Consuming cucumbers within an hour of a quick pickle as an easy summer side dish has a lot to do with my acceptance.
Seasonal preparation of tzatziki, the quintessential cucumber condiment of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, also helped immensely. We serve it as a spread for lamb burgers, as a sauce for shish kebabs and as a drizzle on falafels.
In some traditions, however, the tzatziki is so thin that it looks more like soup, or so thick that it looks more like a dip. The latter is mentioned in this recipe from “Come On Over!” Southern Delicious for Every Day and Every Occasion,” by Elizabeth Heiskell.
In addition to serving with raw vegetables and crostini (or pita or tortilla chips), pair it with lamb, cold-poached salmon, even burgers and hot dogs.
Find a recipe for traditional Greek tzatziki, as well as eggplant dip, in this 2015 story.
Tribune News Photo service
Cold cucumber dip
1 1/2 pounds cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons of champagne vinegar
Using a food processor, puree the cucumbers. Line a colander with cheesecloth and put it in the sink. Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt with mashed cucumber and transfer it to a colander. Let stand and drain for 1 hour.
Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze the cucumber again to make sure it’s as dry as possible.
Place cucumber pulp in a bowl and add sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, dill, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar and 1/8 tsp pepper. Mix well.
Add more salt and pepper for taste. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 4 days, before serving.
Makes 6 servings.