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Cattail Tzatziki

Tzatziki can be served as a dip for pita or veggies, or used as a sauce for falafel and other dishes.(Kayte Young/WFIU)

Tzatziki is a Greek sauce or dip featuring yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint, dill, lemon and olive oil. In this recipe, we substitute hearts of cattail for the cucumber. The texture is delightful, and the flavor is remarkably similar. Since cattail hearts are harvested in the spring, well before cucumber season, this can be a great chance to eat seasonally, while not sacrificing taste.

Slice the bottom portion of the cattail longways and peel back the tough outer layers of the stalk to reveal the crunchy tender heart inside. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

To get to the heart of the catttail, harvest stalks of cattail, leaving the roots behind, but making sure you have the base of the plant. Cut off the top part of the stalk, leaving about 4-6 inches. Peel away the outer layers of the shortened stalk, until the white, tender heart is revealed. You’ll know you’re there by tasting it. If it has a tender snap, and no tough fibers, that’s it.

Cattail Tzatziki


  • 1/2 cup of roughly chopped cattail hearts
  • 1 cup of thick Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3-4 grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaf,roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill leaf, chopped


  1. Combine all ingredients. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or so before serving, to allow the flavors to develop.
  2. Serve with pita bread, veggie sticks, or use as a sauce for falafel, baked fish or other dishes.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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