23 April 2013

Grilled Vegetable Tzatziki Salad

Nothing says SUMMER quite like dinner from the grill.  After all that cold weather, it's nice to give your burners, oven and broiler a little break and get back to those glorious grill lines.  In our home, the hubs is King of the grill, capital K intended.  I may assist in the protein preparation, but I depend on his magical internal BBQ-clock to cook it to perfection.   While he reigns as King of the meat, I rule as Queen of the veggies.  From artichoke to zucchini, I grill them all.  Who says that your barbecue side has to be a fresh salad or coleslaw?  Grill while the grilling is good.  This recipe is one that I make over and over again....(and again, and again.)  Incredibly easy and tasty, this one is sure to wow the flip flops off your friends at a cookout.  

Tomatoes and zucchini.  *Le-sigh*  These two are my best friends.  Growing up, my parents had an enormous garden in the front yard filled with home-grown delicacies, containing the amazing flavor that can only be found in fresh vegetables.  The taste of summer is a fresh cherry tomato, popped right off the vine and into my mouth.  And these two best-ies grew like weeds in Western Washington (delicious, nutritious weeds).  To this day, they're my go-to staples for summer eating...especially when grilled.  The tomatoes are so intense and the zucchini become so meaty, I will often just eat a huge helping of this recipe in lieu of any protein.  It's just so good!

 To go with all those fresh veggies, I love an incredibly and equally fresh sauce like tzatziki.  This greek yogurt based dip is creamy, herbacious, garlicky and perfect smeared on anything from falafel to lamb to zucchini.  (Oh, hey there...zucchini.  What do ya know?)  Shredded cucumber brings a lot of bright freshness to its flavor, making this dip perfect for summer time eating.  I will make a whole batch of this sauce and eat it throughout the week.  The yogurt separates slightly, but a quick stir is all that's needed to re-perfect this sauce.  And honestly, I like it better the second or third day, after the flavors have had time to really mingle together.

I've been making this dish for so long at this point, I have no idea where my inspiration was born (but it was very likely from left over Greek food the night before).  Besides being incredibly delicious, it's also delightfully easy to make.  If you have a cheese grater, a grill basket and a mixing bowl, you're in business.  This is an awesome side at a summer cookout, and a fun addition to the traditional grilled corn and fruit salad.  And being a hard-core vegivore, I don't consider dinner complete unless there is some type of vegetable on my plate.  If you make your tzatziki the night before, the whole dish pulls together in 15 minutes.  That's right folks, you have time for an extra game of corn hole with this one!

This is fabulous along side a delicious Greek lamb burger (as seen above).  It's also awesome on a thick toasty piece of bread, topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese.  But however you like your veggies, definitely add this to your short list for summer cookout sides.  

Grilled Vegetable Tzatziki Salad (makes 4 servings)
sauce inspired by Kevin at Closet Cooking

For the tzatziki:
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt (full to non-fat...yogi's choice)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or you can use mint and/or dill...but we love oregano)
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • pinch salt
For the salad:
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • tzatziki sauce (around 1/2 cup depending on how saucy you like your sides)

Peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler and cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard.  Grate the remaining flesh with a cheese grater or shred in a food processor.  Once shredded, squeeze as much water as possible out of the cucumber with your hands before transferring to paper or kitchen towels to remove the remaining moisture (you may need a couple towels).  When the cucumber is well strained, transfer 1/2 cup into a medium mixing bowl for the tzatziki.  Any remaining cucumber can be saved for salads or sandwiches.

Once the cucumber is in your mixing bowl, add the yogurt, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, white pepper and salt.  Stir together until well blended.  Taste and season with additional oregano, white pepper and salt if desired.  Sauce can be made up to two days in advance and will keep in the refrigerator for a week (maybe longer, but it's never lasted here).

To make the salad, cut the zucchini into rounds about 3/4 inch thick, then cut the rounds into quarters.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the tomatoes.  Drizzle with the olive oil and toss together gently.  Season with salt and pepper, then transfer the veggies to your grill bakset.  Grill for 10-12 minutes until zucchini are lightly browned and the tomatoes are have shriveled and/or split. 

Transfer the veggies back into the large mixing bowl.  Add the tzatziki and stir together gently with a spatula.  Serve with crumbled feta and toasty bread.   

1 comment: