We figured something was up a few years ago when Min’s mother was raving about a new Greek Fage yogurt she found at Fresh Market. She was amazed at how rich and creamy a fat free yogurt could taste. “It costs a little more, but it’s worth it,” she said.
A glance at any supermarket dairy case tells you that the Greek yogurt category has exploded. From unknowns to national brands, yogurt has gone Greek. But, unlike most trends that are driven by clever marketing campaigns, Greek yogurt has surprised the industry with grassroots consumer demand.
Greek-style yogurt is regular yogurt that has been strained of more of the watery whey giving it a thicker, creamier, almost cheese-like consistency. Even the fat-free versions taste surprisingly rich. Why so popular and why pay more? A few reasons.
Athletes like the higher protein level. Dieters can dive into what seems like a forbidden splurge without the high calorie guilt. Cooks like how the extra-creaminess enhances salad dressings and desserts. Plus, don’t most of us like to get in on a cool, new consumer product?
Our Cheater Chef Greek Yogurt Cucumbers show off the best qualities of this runaway product. Traditional raita cucumber yogurt sauce tends to get runny and watery, especially if the cucumbers have not been relieved of some of their liquid after sprinkled with salt and a 20 minute rest in a colander. With extra-thick Greek yogurt, the recipe stays creamy even when combined with watery cukes. We use quite a lot of cucumber here because the Greek yogurt can handle it.
The other key to great Greek Yogurt Cukes is how you cut up the cucumbers. We strongly recommend a mandoline slicer for very thin, even slices, instead of cubing or grating the cukes. Don’t go buy a fancy slicer if you don’t have one—just pick up a ten dollar v-slicer at the home store. The inexpensive ones offer a couple of thickness settings and are plenty good enough for occasional home kitchen use. You’ll fast be making gorgeous salads with perfect onion, carrot, radish, cucumber, and celery slices.
In this dish a really thin cuke slice makes for a crunchier bite and produces an all-around fancier looking salad. Better yet, when spooned onto on a pita bread sandwich, the cukes in Greek yogurt adhere better to the sandwich fillings whereas cubes and chunks tend to end up on the plate. And that hefty Greek yogurt won’t sog up the pita before you’re half way into that leftover grilled lamb sam.
- 1 English (long thin plastic wrapped) cucumber, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (if possible)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on a box grater
- 8 ounces plain Greek-style yogurt
- Small handful chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red or green onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a hot skillet about 2 minutes, cooled
- Salt to taste
Toss the cucumber with about 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander.Let them sit about 20 minutes. This will draw some of the water out of the cukes making them crisper and the end result less runny. Rinse them before using.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Blend well. Refrigerate until serving. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.