Cooking with Yogurt

Since yogurt is so healthy, including it in a balanced diet is important. It is easy enough to buy a cup of sweetened fruit yogurt or even plain yogurt, but there are also hundreds of recipes that call for yogurt, making it easy to fit this health food into the diet. Yogurt is found in all kinds of dishes, from appetizers to main dishes and desserts.

Yogurt Soup

For appetizers, plain yogurt can be used mixed with herbs and spices as a dip or spread. Many Middle Eastern and European recipes call for including yogurt in spreads with caviar, anchovies, or pickled herring. For a quick appetizer, mix 4 anchovy fillets, 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste, 1 chopped onion, 1 cup plain yogurt, cup mayonnaise and cup Worcestershire sauce. Spread on crackers or thin bread wedges and top with capers.

For a cool summer dish that can be prepared ahead of time for a party, try a cucumber and yogurt salad. Slice 2 small cucumbers, add 1 chopped garlic clove, 20 rough chopped mint leaves, and mix with 3 cups plain yogurt, salt to taste. Once mixed, chill before serving.

Yogurt is found in many Turkish recipes including a traditional yogurt soup dish called ayran asi. To make this dish, start by soaking 1 cup wheat berries and cup chickpeas in water overnight. The next day, boil the wheat and chickpeas in 6 cups of water until soft (most, but not all of the water will have cooked off). In a separate bowl, mix 1 and cups plain yogurt (Balkan or Greek style yogurt is best), 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir this mixture in with the chickpeas and boil 5 minutes. The soup can be eaten hot immediately or chilled. Alternative yogurt soup recipes call for rice instead of chickpeas and wheat, and some recipes have mint leaves and garlic.

Make a yogurt salad dressing by mixing a cup of yogurt in the blender and add a tablespoon of water or lemon juice. Mix this with any desired herbs such as mint, dill, parsley, or garlic. Blend well and use on any fresh salad mix.

For an easy dessert, try a traditional Greek yiaourti me meli, or yogurt and honey. Simply spoon cup Greek style yogurt into a bowl and top with 2 teaspoons honey. This mixture can be topped with chopped walnuts, almonds, or any other nut.

Another quick dessert can be made by macerating fresh berries and using them to top plain yogurt. To macerate the fruit, slice it and sprinkle on just enough sugar to cover the surface lightly. Allow it to sit until the fruit juices begin to be drawn from the fruit then use as a topping.

Make a quick parfait by shipping 1 cup sweetened yogurt and layering it in a wine glass with fresh sliced fruit such as strawberries. For a quick breakfast, mix a handful of granola or even cereal in cup plain yogurt.

To get more yogurt in the diet, it can be used as a replacement for sour cream in many recipes. If cooking with it, use a Greek or Balkan style yogurt which is less likely to separate or curdle.

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