Today’s recipe mashup takes a pretty traditional tzatziki sauce and uses it as a dressing for a refreshing, summer pasta salad.
Tzatziki (pronounced tsah-tsee-kee) is a creamy, white sauce often served as a dip, spread, condiment or simply eaten alone.
Traditionally made with Greek yogurt, diced cucumbers, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and a variety of herbs such as dill weed, parsley or mint, Tzatziki is commonly paired with an array of Mediterranean dishes. Souvlaki (shish kebab), gyros, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), roast lamb, pork or beef, seafood, rice dishes and grilled vegetables get a flavor boost with the addition of tzatziki sauce.
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We used cucumbers two different ways in today’s recipe – grated in the dressing and diced in the salad. The grated cucumber, squeezed of excess moisture, infuses a fresh, subtle cucumber flavor into the dressing itself, and the diced cucumber in the salad provides a nice crunch.
Cucumbers are the perfect snack for those watching their waistline, with one cup sliced providing a mere 14 calories. Their skins are a surprisingly good source of lutein, a beneficial phytonutrient that may keep our eyes healthy. So, leave the peel on for today’s recipe.
A seedless cucumber, also known as an English or hothouse cucumber, worked well in this pasta salad. Look for cucumbers that are very firm and rounded on the ends. The skin should be deep, rich green in color, not pale or yellow.
If you’re looking to make this salad into a meal, add some protein. Diced chicken breast, canned light tuna, or chickpeas (garbanzo beans) would be a great add-in.
Darlene Zimmerman is a registered dietitian in Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute. For questions about today’s recipe, call 313-972-1920.
9 (¾ cup per serving) / Prep time: 20 minutes
/ Total time: 30 minutes
1 whole English (seedless) cucumber, divided
½ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces dry whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup diced red bell pepper
⅓ cup diced red onion
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup whole, pitted kalamata olives, diced
Cut a 3-inch piece of cucumber (about 3 ounces), with skin and grate using a box grater. Squeeze excess moisture from grated cucumber and place in a bowl with yogurt, sour cream, oil, lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and refrigerate while preparing other ingredients.
In a large saucepan of unsalted boiling water, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water; drain well and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 cup diced cucumber from remaining cucumber, red pepper and onion to pasta. Reserve any leftover cucumber.