Yogurt and Cucumber Salad
A recipe for the dish sometimes called Tarator
Recipe names can be confusing. Cooks acquainted with the Arabic table know tarator as a tahini-thickened nut sauce. Cooks familiar with Greek and Turkish cuisines see this salad as a cousin to tzatziki and cacik, with the addition of chopped walnuts.
Serves 4 to 6.
2 cups plain yogurt
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
Salt for sprinkling, plus 1 teaspoon
5 or 6 cloves garlic, green sprouts removed and finely minced
2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or mint, or a mixture
Pita bread, cut into quarters if large, halves if small, and warmed
Spoon the yogurt into a sieve placed over a bowl and place in the refrigerator to drain for four hours.
Peel and seed the cucumber(s). If using the large cucumber, grate it; if using the small cucumbers, cut into tiny dice. Place the grated or diced cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain for 30 minutes, then squeeze dry in a kitchen towel. Refrigerate until needed.
In a bowl, stir together the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and vinegar. Add the nuts and olive oil, and fold in the drained yogurt and cucumber(s). Stir in the herbs. Spoon into a shallow bowl and surround with warmed pita. Serve at once.
Reprinted with permission from Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean (Chronicle Books).