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April 21, 2009

Greek yogurt (Recipe: lemon walnut yogurt dessert)

Greek yogurt 

Nine things I know, and one thing I don't know, about Greek yogurt (you'll be glad to know them, too):

  1. Greek yogurt (yiaourti) has been around for thousands of years; yogurt itself might be as old as 10,000 years, which is much older than the oldest Greeks. It didn't get popular outside Greece until the first wave of Greek emigration to Western Europe and the US after World War I.
  2. Why is Greek yogurt called "Greek", and not "Indian" or "Lebanese", when all three ancient cuisines use the thicker yogurt in their dishes? I honestly don't know. Do you?
  3. To make Greek yogurt, milk is heated and then cooled a bit, and active cultures are added. The mixture ferments, and then, while it's still warm, it's strained to remove the whey. The resulting yogurt is thicker and more acidic than traditional American-style yogurt.
  4. With the whey removed, what remains is a higher concentration of protein, fewer carbs, and less lactose. The higher protein content means you'll feel full with just a small portion. And with less lactose, it's easier to digest.
  5. The texture adds richness without extra moisture. If you have a sweet tooth, try adding Greek yogurt to cupcakes, rhubarb fool, chocolate mousse tartlets, or black cherry frozen yogurt.
  6. Prefer savory to sweet? Greek yogurt is great for cooking, because it doesn't separate, and the creaminess provides great "mouth feel." How about traditional tzatziki, a smoked salmon omelet, mushroom and yogurt tart, salad dressing, or baked peas with tarragon, yogurt and pistachios?
  7. Fage seems to have the widest distribution in grocery stores; Oikos organic is popular here in the Northeast US. If you're lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's, try their brand; it's delicious, and much less expensive than the others.
  8. Use it as a low-fat (or zero-fat) substitute for sour cream, whipping cream, butter or creme fraiche in many recipes. Even the zero-fat varieties deliver full-fat flavor, so stick with the many nonfat options available.
  9. It's easy to make your own Greek yogurt. But yogurt is said to be the food of the gods, so if a Greek god offers to help you make it, don't turn him down!
  10. Is Greek yogurt an aphrodisiac? Very likely; after all, in Greece a bride and groom eat yogurt with honey and walnuts before their honeymoon.

Greekyogurt

Lemon walnut yogurt dressing

Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 16-oz container of zero-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon curd, homemade or store-bought
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup walnut halves

Directions

In a bowl, stir together the yogurt and lemon curd (this can be done 1-2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate). Divide into 6 small bowls or ramekins (this makes small, but filling, portions). Sprinkle with lemon zest and walnut halves, and serve cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Lemon waffles
Grilled fruit with cardamom yogurt
Roasted vegetables with yogurt and fresh tomato sauce
Tzatziki
Tandoori-spiced grilled lamb

Comments

That recipe sounds delicious. Did you see the NYT article on making yogurt -- by Harold McGee? It has some interesting things to say about the process.

I just had a conversation regarding Greek yogurt with my sister, and I have a Trader Joe's in the neighborhood, I'm going to buy a container and see how good it is! I think I've had it before in a Greek flat bread sandwich, but I though it was sour cream when I ate it.

funny you should post about greek yogurt because i just had my breakfast yogurt mango and cereal, which led me to a new idea i have to try out. i have been quite excited to see low fat greek yogurt appear in the stores here as i am trying all kinds of dips and salad dressings with it! it's not 0% fat but still better than nothing!

I've been so happy that many more options for Greek Yogurt have been introduced. It is so much more flavorful than traditional. I've not yet tried cooking with it, because it usually dissappears very quickly! My favorite way to eat it is drizzled with good honey.

I wonder if the Greek, Indians and Lebanese use different enzymes/cultures for thickening? Interesting little tidbits!

Oh, I love Greek yogurt! And, I love your idea of mixing in the lemon curd, zest and walnuts!!! (I've been eating it with toasted almonds and chocolate chips!) :) Yours sounds healthier!

I made a great blueberry-yogurt tart with greek yogurt for Easter; it's posted on my blog if you want to take a look. I remember that you once left a comment on my blog saying that you weren't such a big fan of yogurt. I swear, this recipe made me a convert. Maybe you'll like it too!

This sounds fabulous and I'm going to make it today.

I keep meaning to look for Greek yogurt at the grocery store - haven't had it yet, but on a mission!

I'm addicted to greek yogurt...it's so much better than regular yogurt. I love the idea of lemons and walnuts. I'll be trying this soon.

I am just getting into this greek yogurt - but now I will really get into it with the tips about cooking with it and using it in place of sour cream. (why do all great things have to be so fattening!)

Good article on yogurt...very much used in Greek cooking for savory and sweets and enjoyed on it's own.

Thanks for the shout-out, mom's yogurt recipe is a winner!

I've never thought of adding lemon curd to Greek yogurt. I love it with maple syrup and, in fact, I just bought some today. I might have to make some lemon curd now!

OK, Lydia...I had to run to the store before lunch and what do you know? A jar of lemon curd fell into my basket! Lemons, too...and walnuts! I HAD to make a single serving for lunch and it was divine and so refreshing! I looked down, and it was gone! Can't wait for lunch tomorrow! :) Thanks!

I just bought some Greek yogurt last night for use in a recipe...now I know what to do with what's left over. Hello, walnuts and lemons! Thanks, Lydia!

Oh yum, I love Greek yogurt! I will have to check out Trader Joe's version, thanks for the tip. I think I would eat this for breakfast versus dessert!

I love greek yogurt and use it in all my recipes!

I have been finding FAGE at CostCo, pretty good price. I prefer it to the Oikos brand, as it is thicker and richer. And, this time of year, I love it with fresh strawberries and honey. Yumm!

Mae, I did see it. And for those who didn't, here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/dining/15curi.html

AZ, the texture is very much like sour cream, which is why it's a good substitute.

Meeta, I love that we have both low-fat and non-fat Greek yogurt available here. Of course with a bit of lemon curd mixed in, you don't really miss the fat in the yogurt!

TW, yogurt and honey is the traditional, for breakfast or, in our house, dessert. Nice to add some nuts on the top, too.

Julia, interesting question. I didn't run across any evidence of that in my reading about Greek yogurt; the name just seems more a case of "who got there first."

Bridget, your way sounds healthier, but the lemon curd is an amazing mix-in!

Christina, I'm still not a big yogurt fan, but the Greek yogurt is so much more appealing to me. It's really almost like cheese -- and I do love cheese.

Jean, hope you love it as much as Ted does!

Cate, Greek yogurt is everywhere now. And it seems like it came out of the blue. A year or two ago, you wouldn't be able to find it anywhere except ethnic markets.

Food Hunter, this would be delicious with orange curd and pecans, or lime curd and pistachios, too.

Carol, one of the great things about Greek yogurt is that you can buy non-fat that has the texture of full-fat.

Peter, I'm definitely going to look on your blog for more ways to use Greek yogurt. Thanks to your mom, too.

Janel, my husband will love the maple syrup idea!

Bridget, grocery shopping can be sooooo dangerous, with all those good things falling into your cart! Seriously, I'm really glad you were inspired to try this, and that it was such a good lunch treat. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment and let us know.

Dianne, there's always a little bit left over, from any recipe, isn't there? (and how lucky!)

Jason, TJ's is definitely less expensive, and worth a try.

Noble Pig, I'm just getting into that, too. Made a dynamite marinade with Greek yogurt last weekend.

Gudrun, what's nice about FAGE is that it is more widely available; in fact, it's the only Greek yogurt in the market in our small town. Because I use yogurt more for cooking than for eating on its own, I like to use organic yogurt and the texture isn't as much of an issue. Love the idea of strawberries and honey -- both will be local here, but not for a few months.

I love Greek Yogurt. None of my regular stores carry it though, so the only thing that keeps me from eating it more is the need to make a trip to Whole Foods each time I want some!

This looks so delicious and refreshing! I could eat this piled with fresh summer blueberries! Yum!

Confession: I've never tried Greek yogurt. Not because I haven't wanted to mind you, only because I've never stumbled across it in the grocery (and we have no Greek markets nearby). Perhaps when we're passing through St. Louis again, I'll make a pit stop at Trader Joe's. Thanks for mentioning they carry it there!

I love Greek Yogurt. I also use mine to make yogurt cheese and spread on bagels. Yum.

This is making me wish I'd had this for breakfast instead of cereal -- but I do love Greek yogurt mixed with a bit of bran and blueberries. Truly the best 0% fat yogurt out there and so yummy to cook with!

I love yogurt, so versatile. And Greek is the best. I make my own, with the incubator and little jars.
I love how it works as a marinade too.
Oh, and the Greek god who is helping people make yogurt? Send him my way.

We love Greek yogurt too, I generally make my own unless I'm disorganised. Our go to breakfast is to swirl a teaspoon of berry jam through it with cereal/granola. Another favourite is yoghurt cheese on toast.
The combination of lemon curd and yoghurt is delicious, I've used it for sponge cake and tart fillings...Yum!

Kalyn, the travel distance to the closest market is what keeps me from eating ice cream, so I know just what you mean.

Jamie, that will be delicious when it's blueberry season here. I'll definitely try it.

Sandie, I'm finding Greek yogurt more and more in the regular grocery store these days. There are a few different brands; I hope one of them shows up in the stores near you. I know you will create amazing b&b-style cuisine with it.

Melanie, I haven't made yogurt cheese in years! What I love about Greek yogurt is that it's so close to yogurt cheese in texture.

Kellypea, how about yogurt with cereal? Or granola? That's one of my husband's favorite combinations.

Natashya, love that you make your own Greek yogurt. If I find a Greek god wandering around, I'm definitely sending him to you!

Bron, great idea to use this as a tart filling. I always keep those mini phyllo shells in the freezer, so using those plus the yogurt and lemon curd could be a real quickie of a great dessert.

Here's a trick for people who can't get Greek yoghurt. I cheat and make a semi-homemade version by placing a container of plain yoghurt, I use non-fat, on top of a layer of paper coffee filters in a colander placed over a bowl. Let it sit in the fridge 6hr to overnight. The whey drains out into the bowl and the yoghurt thickens up beautifully. The longer it sits the thicker it gets, all the way to the yoghurt cheese mentioned by others. I don't think it tastes exactly like Fage Greek yoghurt (Fage is smoother) but it is yummy and a lot cheaper!

Lydia, we do not have Greek yogurt here, but I improvise by placing regular yogurt on a cheese cloth, inside a colander. It works really well!

Maggie, that's a great idea for anyone who either can't find Greek yogurt, or wants to make a larger quantity for less money. Thanks for the tip.

Patrcia, sounds like you and Maggie are on the same wave length!

i have a jar of guava curd. i will be making this with guava curd. thank you for the brilliant idea.

Bee, that sounds amazing! I never think about making curd other than citrus. Now my mind is whirling....

Stop and Shop and Shoprite both carry Chobani Greek Yogurt. I tried it when it was 10 for $10 and have been enjoying it daily ever since! It is thick and satisfying. I haven't tried the plain but I will buy some now for recipes. I like their pomegranite and pineapple the best but they also have honey, vanilla, blueberry, strawberry and peach.

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