I’m a huge fan of Tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber-garlic sauce that somehow manages to taste creamy and rich and light all at the same time. A Tzatziki sauce can make or break a gyros sandwich, and when paired with a couple of skewers of homemade meatballs, is one of my favorite dishes ever.
Making the Tzatziki
I like to make the Tzatziki before the meatballs, giving it time to chill a bit in the fridge. You’ll need:
2 cups plain yogurt (the full fat stuff, and preferably Greek)
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, crushed finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole cucumbers, peeled, seeded and grated (large)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, combine yogurt, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Mix well. Separately, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over the grated cucumber, and let it drain for around 20 minutes. You want to get rid of as much excess water as you can, so you don’t end up with watery Tzatziki. Add grated cucumber to yogurt mixture, add pepper, and combine. Cover and chill in the fridge at least an hour. Drizzle with olive oil right before serving.
Making Greek Meatballs
2 slices bread (white, whole wheat… whatever floats your boat)
1 cup milk
2 lbs. lean ground beef (or you can do 1 lb. lean and 1 lb. regular if you want more fat)
1 onion, minced fine
4 garlic cloves, minced fine
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
2 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour, to roll the meatballs in
extra virgin olive oil, for frying
Dunk bread slices in milk to absorb the liquid. Mash well.
In a large bowl, combine mashed milky bread with beef, onion, garlic, mint, vinegar, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Do not overmix, you want to be as gentle as possible or you’ll end up with tough and dry meatballs.
Gently form into small (1 1/2-inch) meatballs, roll lightly in flour, and fry in hot olive oil.
You can spear these on skewers, or simply piled on a pretty plate, with a bowl of chilled Tzatziki on the side. Delicious!