Paleo Tzatziki

2013-02-09
As a Greek woman, I naturally gravitate towards Mediterranean flavors.  It would be impossible to choose my favorite Greek dish, but tzatziki is one of my favorite things from any cuisine.  I know… that is a big statement.  Most of the time, tzatziki isn’t even considered more than a sauce or dip.  It can be served as an appetizer dip with pita bread or veggies, or as a condiment to an entree.  There is a Turkish ‘cousin’ of this dish called cacik that is eaten like a soup, so I will continue to believe that it is acceptable to eat tzatziki by the spoonful.

Its basic components are typically strained Greek yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, parsley, mint, garlic and lemon.  Sometimes you will see it with dill, but I am not a big fan of that flavor with tzatziki.  Luckily, my family does not use dill in their tzatziki, spanakopita, or any dish for that matter.  Like many cuisines, there are countless versions because of different regions and family traditions.  I am so happy to be a part of my family!

I still eat dairy products, but not nearly as much as I used to since going primarily Paleo.  If presented with a traditional tzatziki I would still dig in, but I wanted to create a similar experience without using yogurt or sour cream.  I am happy to report that the result was delicious and it more than satisfied my food memory of tzatziki!  I substituted ripened Hoss avocados for the dairy component.  I bought a bag with five avocados at Sam’s Club that were ready to use.  I had already planned on making Paleo Falafel, and using four or five avocados provides enough Avoziki for at least one or two batches of “falafel.”

Using avocado instead of dairy provides the creaminess, but unlike dairy, does not always maintain its color.  Don’t fret if the avocado gets a little brown on the top – it is from oxidation.  The acid in the lemon juice and garlic, and the preserving qualities of salt should help maintain the color, but also make sure that you store it in an airtight container.  If you want to kick up the lemon flavor even further (without adding too much juice and making it runny), you may add the zest of a lemon.  That would further help to preserve the beautiful green color of the avocado.

I served this Avoziki with my Paleo Falafel.  The pairing was awesome.  The fresh and bright flavors would also pair extremely well with my Paleo Keftedes (Greek meatballs), or any other Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavors.  I just may get really in touch with my Mediterranean roots and eat it by the spoonful. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 4-5 hoss avocados
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 lg english cucumber (no seeds), washed, peeled, and grated
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp mint
  • ground black pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • 1. Scoop avocado into a large bowl
  • 2. Add lemon juice, and combine with a fork, spoon, or potato masher
  • 3. Add olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint, pepper(s) and sea salt, and stir until evenly incorporated
  • 4. Before adding grated cucumber, squeeze out excess water over the sink with a paper towel
  • 5. Gently incorporate the cucumber into the avocado mixture with a spoon or spatula
  • 6. Enjoy!