Tzatziki, Tahini, and Feta Sauces

Three versatile sauces from Cleonice for the Lamb Burger, Chicken Souvlaki, and more

These three condiments are what made our lamb burger and chicken souvlaki sing all the louder. While many folks had their favorites “Ordering – Lamb, double Tzat no feta,”  I love to have a choice of many so that with each bite I can add a little feta, or a little more yogurty tzatziki. I love the way that the tzatziki cuts the rich sesame flavor of the tahini and how each sauce enhances and changes the flavor of the lamb or chicken. 

You don’t have to have these with a lamb burger, they make great condiments for grilled meats (though on this snowy last day of January a barbecue seems like a distant possibility). Treat them as dips for pita chips, or make a sandwich with chopped veggies, one or two of the sauces, and some olives. Use them as dips for crudités at your next party or just schmear them on pitas and eat whenever you’re peckish.


Tzatziki Ingredients. whole milk organic yogurt, mint, cucumber, dill, lemon, garlic.
1 med cucumber peeled, seeded, small dice
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 TB fresh dill
2 tsp fresh mint (preferably Egyptian mint, see the notes)
1 tsp lemon juice
3 cups whole milk organic yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Printable Recipe

First peel then prepare the cucumbers in small dice as follows: 
Seeding cucumber with spoon
Cut sections of the cucumber into strips
Then cut across to create uniform sized dice


Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of coarse salt to release all the flavor and avoid chunks of garlic in the finished product. 



If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, cut the garlic as finely as you possibly can then smash it with the side of your knife. 



Chiffonade Mint and dill after pulling the leaves off of the thick stems. 
What kind of mint to use? Check the notes at the end of the blog.


 Add all ingredients to bowl
Mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. 
Serve. Here I’ve garnished with mint and dill and served as a dip. With a lamb burger, fill a small ramekin and serve alongside the burger. 

Feta Oregano 

Feta Oregano Ingredients: feta, oregano, garlic, lemon, olive oil
½ pound Feta, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tb fresh oregano coarsely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
pinch black pepper

Printable recipe
Crumble the feta
Destem and chiffonade the oregano


Combine Feta, Oregano & Garlic in the bowl of a food processor.



Squeeze a half lemon over your hand to catch the seeds, allowing the lemon juice to flow between your fingers into the bowl of the food processor.


Start the processor and grind up the ingredients, slowly add the olive oil in a stream as the processor works. 

Scrape down the sides, check the consistency and seasoning. You can add pepper here, more olive oil if you need a silkier texture, more lemon for tartness. Process again after making additions. 

Finished Feta Oregano. Tangy & delicious, it’s great on the Lamb burger of course, tasty also as an omelet filling with olives and/or artichokes.
Use your imagination. 

Tahini Sauce

Maybe the simplest of the three sauces, water to loosen up the tahini, lemon to bring a brightness to the rich sesame flavor, and garlic combine to make this delicious spread. Sesame seeds are great sources of minerals and a good source for B vitamins. I keep reading how great it is for calcium, but a serving only has 2% of your RDA.

1 cup Tahini
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup warm water
salt and pepper to taste

Printable Recipe
Tahini – make sure your container of Tahini is mixed up so you’re not getting all oil or all sesame meat. You can do this by turning the container upside down to start the incorporation an hour or so before you start to make your sauce. 
Add juice of half a lemon, as before, squeezing the lemon over your hand, letting the juice flow through your fingers and catching the seeds.
Smashed the garlic in a mortar and pestle with coarse sea salt, and add to the tahini.
While working the mixture with an immersion blender, add the water
slowly to incorporate. 
The sauce should take on a creamy consistency. Add more water if a
saucier product is desired. 
Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in with the blender again. 


The finished product has a loose spreadable texture and rich flavor.
Serve with Chicken Souvlaki or as you will. 


Mint – At Cleonice we used Egyptian mint, either fresh or dried, almost always when mint is called for. The flavor is mild and simply minty without a strong spearmint or peppermint bite. Egyptian mint is fuzzy like apple mint but grows quite tall (over 3″ in my garden) it’s hardy in Bucksport Maine (Zone 5). I bought a couple of plants 10 years ago from Mountain Valley Growers and they are still doing beautifully. Dried Egyptian mint can be found at Oriental Pastry and Grocery in Brooklyn, which I discuss more in the Sam’s Ten Spice edition. The mint featured in the pictures is not Egyptian, but generic organic from Hannaford, still tasty.

Yogurt – Local organic yogurt has so much more flavor and has the most active cultures for great health. Check out your local health food store or farmers market to find yogurt from your area. You do not necessarily need Greek yogurt for this Tzatziki, but a full fat yogurt creates a nice rich sauce. 

Cary Hanson

About Cary Hanson

My husband and I didn't have children, we had a restaurant. For twelve and a half years we poured body and soul into Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro. We worked closely with local farmers, fishermen, and food artisans, doing our best to support our local community. We made great friends, beautiful food, and had a lot of fun. As Rich and I rediscover ourselves as our own beings outside of the all-consuming restaurant we have time to share our recipes and reminisce about Cleonice.