Beet Tzatziki

Beet Tzatziki

[Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin]

Tzatziki—that cool, creamy sauce-salad of yogurt and cucumbers—has become synonymous with Greek cuisine. And while the Greeks do their fair share of tzatziki eating, it's worth noting that nearly every country in the eastern Mediterranean region boasts their own take on the yogurt-based dish, ranging from soups and salads to sauces and refreshing beverages. Tzatziki (or talattouri or cacık, depending on who you ask) plays a huge role in Eastern Mediterranean fare.

Silvena Rowe offers up several versions of tzatziki in her Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume including this vibrant Beet Tzatziki. Like any tzatiki worth its salt, this one begins the night before by making a batch of suzme, a thick, rich yogurt made by draining the liquid from a quart of plain yogurt.

Instead of the classic cucumber, Rowe adds roasted shredded beets along with tzatiki staples like lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. In a nod to her Bulgarian heritage, Rowe finishes this beet and yogurt salad with a handful of chopped walnuts. This version of tzatziki is more of a salad than a sauce and makes a beautiful addition to a mezze spread.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe, copyright © 2011. Published by Ecco.

  • Yield:6
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes, plus overnight


  • 4 medium beets, roasted and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups Suzme (recipe follows)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Suzme
  • 1 quart whole milk plain yogurt, not Greek style
  • 2 pieces of cheesecloth approximately 12 x 12 inches


  1. 1.

    To make the Suzme: Place the yogurt in the center of the double layered cheesecloth. Standing over the sink, twist the muslin around the yogurt until you have a tight ball. Tie the top with some string and suspend the ball (I tie it to the tap) overnight. You will end up with a yogurt of a very thick consistency, which is known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean as suzme. You will have about 1 1/2 cups. Cover and refrigerate.

  2. 2.

    To make the Beet Tzatziki: Combine the beets, garlic, lemon juice and suzme, and season. Serve drizzled with the olive oil, and
    sprinkled with the parsley and walnuts.