After taking a language-course trip to Greece when I was in high school I developed a mild obsession for Greek cuisine. This has led me on two parallel quests: 1) finding the best local Greek food I can get my hands on and 2) recreating, to the best of my ability, my favorite dishes from the trip. Though my 17-year-old Athens “discoteca” days are long gone, I can at least relive part of that phenomenal trip through food!
For the June FSC food swap, I decided to make homemade pita with two dips, roasted pine nut hummus with basil and tzatziki. I had every intention of making traditional tzatziki but when I opened my fridge and realized that I had a huge pile of garlic scapes, I thought it might be an interesting substitution. As it turned out, it was a hit. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the recipe or take any photos!
I decided to recreate the scape tzatziki on our recent camping trip to serve as an accompaniment to the grilled chicken we planned on serving, this time with plenty of written and photo documentation.
Just to be clear, cooking while camping is a little different than at home. The ‘kitchen’ was a bit more spacious and there was a full time clean up crew on staff (the feathered & furry sort). As far as utilities go, we were well equipped with one picnic table, one portable table, two camp stoves, one gas grill, one fire pit and about 8 coolers.
Despite all that, we had some pretty fantastic food! For the tzatziki, I started with greek yogurt, garlic scapes, dill and cucumber.
*recipe with measurements below
First, peel the cucumber. Remove the seeds and juicy centers. Carefully grate the cucumber using the smallest side of a box grater. If you don’t have tiny holes on your grater, the regular size will work but your tzatziki will end up having a bit more texture. I have also made this using a food processor but I find that makes a cucumber pulp that has too little texture for my taste.
I grated right onto a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture. I do this at home too. Once grated, give the cukes a little squeeze all wrapped up in paper towel. You don’t have to go crazy and get it completely dry but more moisture will make the dip thinner. If that’s your thing, though, go for it!
When the cucumbers are all set, throw them in some sort of bowl or container. Chop up the scapes (I quartered them lengthwise then chopped finely) and dill and add to the cucumber. Next, add the Greek yogurt and give it all a big stir. At this point, I tasted the tzatziki and realized I was missing something. This is the fun part of not writing recipes down!
After thinking for a minute, I remembered that I needed to add lemon juice and, of course, salt. The juice of 1 lemon and a few shakes did the trick and into the cooler it went for a few hours while we ate a few appetizer s’mores and got the rest of the meal ready.
We served the tzatziki alongside this grilled chicken (also made using garlic scapes), a big greek salad and boiled salt potatoes.
Garlic Scape Tzatsiki
2 small (i.e. “Kirby”) or 1 large (i.e.”English”) cucumber, seeded, grated and squeezed/patted dry
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, more or less depending on taste
4 garlic scapes, finely chopped
2 cups Greek yogurt (whole or 2%)
1/2 tsp salt (more to taste if desired)
juice of 1 lemon
Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Stir and serve cold. Promptly refrigerate leftovers. May be stored, covered and refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Stir before serving leftovers.