Paleo Vegan Tzatziki Recipe -- Mediterranean Yogurt Cucumber Sauce

Growing up my mother made this delicious dish that she called "cucumber salad with yogurt". Yup, that's what it was called. And I absolutely loved it! But then I found out that it actually has a real name! It's called tzatziki in Greece where it's eaten as a sauce for meat or as a dip.
Looking up about tzatziki for the purpose of this post, I've discovered it has many different names and variations and is used throughout the Mediterranean region, from cacik in Turkey to tarator in the Balkans, talattouri in Cyprus, jajeek in Iraq, and mast-o-khiar in Iran. With so many versions and names, I understand why my mother just decided to call it "cucumber salad with yogurt."

But as I don't eat dairy because it causes me stomach issues, I figured out a recipe for a cashew based one that is both vegan and Paleo and full of good nutritious things, and pretty much friendly for most diets other than nut free or low fat ones.

Of course if you can use dairy, or prefer to use a dairy free yogurt, feel free to replace the cashews, water, and lemon juice with yogurt to make a more traditional tzaziki.

I highly recommend this recipe. Every time I've made it, people have devoured it and begged for more. Feel free to use it as a topping for anything you'd like, or even just eat it plain as a side dish.

Paleo Vegan Tzaziki Recipe -- Greek Yogurt Cucumber Sauce

1 1/2 cups cashews (I use broken cashews I buy on sale to make this cheaper)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon or to taste
1 garlic clove
5 1/2 cups sliced cucumbers
2 1/2-3 teaspoons salt or to taste, divided
3-4 sprigs mint, chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill (optional)
1 small onion (optional)

1. Soak cashews in enough water to cover them.

2. Slice your cucumbers very thinly. Using a mandolin makes this easier, but it also works with a knife. Most recipes I've seen for tzatziki call for grating the cucumber, but my mom sliced thinly and so do I, so that's what I'll be suggesting for this recipe. If using an onion, do the sale with the onion and mix it with the cucumbers.

3. Sprinkle your cucumbers with 2 teaspoons of salt and mix them very well. Set this aside. The salt will draw the excess liquid out of the cucumbers.

4. After about an hour or two, strain your cucumbers and rinse them to remove some of the saltiness if you'd like. Strain the cashews.

5. Blend/process the cashews with a small amount of the water, scraping down the sides as necessary, until you get a paste. Add more water and most of the lemon juice and the garlic clove and blend until smooth.

6. Add your cashew paste to your cucumbers, then chop your mint, add it, and mix it well. Add the dill if using, and then add more salt and/or lemon juice and adjust it according to your taste.

7. If you want, add the tzatziki back to the blender or food processor and pulse for a few seconds to roughly chop up some of the cucumbers. Don't process too long or you'll get a mush.

8. Serve as a dip or condiment or salad, whatever floats your boat.

Have you ever had or made tzatziki? What is your favorite way to serve it? What do you put in it? What do you call this dish in your house? Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. My idea of tarator : thick yogurt ( homemade from whole milk) , LOTS of garlic cut as thin as you can with salt and cucumber ,mint and pepper ,olive oil let to marinate in fridge so the flavors blend before consuming it.Baked/ grilled Zucchini or calabasitas on sale are a great substitute for cucumber.It is usually consumed during summer months as a sort of cold soup for dinner. Because of garlic my family leaves it for weekends.

  2. I am attempting to transition from vegetarian to vegan so I will give this recipe a try-I notice that cashews are a commonly used substitute on vegan diets- thanks!!

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