Between fresh and rotten, there’s a creative space in which the most compelling flavors arise.
“Between fresh and rotten, there’s a creative space in which the most compelling flavors arise.” That’s what fermenting guru Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation (Chelsea Green), has to say about what happens when our food gets deliciously and nutritiously transformed by Lactobacillus, one of the so-called “good” bacteria that makes foods like pickles, wine, kimchi, sourdough bread possible.
One of the most common products of Lactobacillus is yogurt, and it’s one of the healthiest foods on the planet, particularly when live and active cultures are included. In addition to the protein and nutrients in the milk, these probiotics help regulate the microflora (the natural balance of organisms) in the intestines and aid other bodily functions such as digestion and immune function. But so many popular varieties on the market are filled with added sugars, and those extra calories and carbohydrates offset some of these health benefits. And so, inspired by Blue Hill’s just-released line of beet-, tomato-, and carrot-flavored yogurts in the U.S., I’m thinking it’s time to expand our milquetoast thinking on yogurt and add some spice and savory to our dairy.
Around the world, savory yogurt has been eaten for centuries, either as a dish on its own or incorporated into a variety of dishes. For your next breakfast, try having plain yogurt with drizzled olive oil, chopped cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and a sprinkle of salt. Or as a side dish—particularly with spicy meals—think Indian raita, which can simple made with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon each of dried coriander and cumin, sliced cucumbers and torn fresh cilantro or mint leaves. And as a healthy appetizer or snack, swap some low-fat yogurt for the usual sour cream in your artichoke and spinach dip. You won’t look back.
Below is a recipe for killer tzatziki by Einat Admony, who just released the cookbook, Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes. Try it with roasted veggies or grilled meats.
Makes about 2 cups
1 1⁄2 cups yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1⁄3 cup finely chopped unpeeled cucumber
1⁄2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1⁄2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Keep the tzatziki chilled until ready to use. It’s best used that day, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Photo (cc) Wikipedia by Elisabeth Nara.
Excerpted from Balaboosta by Einat Admony (Artisan Books); copyright © 2013