The other day I picked up greek yogurt. I wanted to try it in my homemade macaroni and cheese recipe (coming soon!) instead of cream cheese, but then I thought how disappointed my friends would be if it wasn’t the same “Dani mac” they know and love. I thought, what if the yogurt compromised the taste? The texture? All for a few measly fat grams? Surely I would lose all of their respect and my reputation. So, I threw it in the fridge and pulled out a brick of Philadelphia cream cheese. Needless to say, the mac and cheese turned out great.
I had plans to use the Greek yogurt to make tzatziki, but yesterday it was a little chilly outside. Tzatziki is more of a summery dish with refreshing ingredients like lemon and cucumber. Since it was raining and raw, I needed a little more than pita with a cold yogurt sauce for dinner. Then I had the ultimate idea: combine the tzatziki with something warm and comforting. Roasted vegetables would do.
Although yogurt sauce may sound strange to some, tzatziki is incredibly versatile. It can be spread on pita with chicken and avocado, it could make a nice veggie dip, or it could even go on top of grilled salmon. It’s also one of those dishes that gets better as it sits in the fridge so it makes for great leftovers.
The veggie I went with was roasted eggplant. Roasted eggplant is flavorful, oh-so-easy and pretty cheap. I honestly think that it brings more flavor to a dish than any meat could (although chicken in this dish is a close second with me). Its fragrance fills the kitchen while roasting and complements the tart tzatziki sauce with its sweet, roasty goodness.
It ended up turning out delicious, albeit a little messy. The tzatziki’s hint of summer combined with the warming roasted eggplant makes for a good April showers recipe. It’s kind of the savory version of freshly baked brownies with a scoop of ice cream. OK, maybe not quite. It’s still really good.
-1 tub greek yogurt
-1 lemon, zested
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
-2 tbsp. dried dill
-1 tsp. cayenne pepper
-2 med. cucumbers
-1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
-1 tsp. sugar
-salt and pepper to taste
Peel and halve cucumbers. Scoop out the seeds in the middle-they make the sauce watery, and are said to cause indigestion. Roughly chop the cucumbers, and put in food processor. Add garlic and a pinch of salt to food processor, and shred. Drain the liquid from the shredded cucumbers and garlic by lining a colander with 3 or 4 paper towels, and let the cucumbers sit for about 15 minutes. Then, bundle the cucumbers in the paper towels and squeeze to get rid of excess liquid.
In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest, olive oil, juice of half the lemon, cucumbers, dill, cayenne, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil on top.
Roasted Eggplant Serves 4
-1 lg. eggplant, washed
-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp. oregano
-Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, and oregano. Brush eggplant with oil mixture on both sides, and arrange on a tinfoil-covered roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for about 25-30 minutes. After removing from the oven, drizzle with fresh lemon juice.
To Assemble: Spread tzatziki on pita. Put 1 or 2 slices of eggplant on top with crumbled feta cheese and arugula. Add an extra squeeze of lemon, and enjoy!