Serve Canned Dolmas With Classic Tzatziki For An Easy, Flavorful Appetizer

It's an eternal push-pull; you want to create a delicious and impressive appetizer for your party, but you have so much else to do. Luckily, there are myriad ways to lighten your workload while still dropping guests' jaws with a stunning and sumptuous hors d'oeuvre. For instance, making use of certain canned items like dolmas can lighten your load quite a bit. While it's not terribly hard to source grape leaves and stuff them with dressed rice, it's far easier to pop open a few cans of the finished product. These Mediterranean rice stuffed grape leaves are vibrant, yet filling and a perfectly-sized finger food. What's more, canned dolmas are a cinch to gussy up before a function.

From a drizzle of grassy olive oil to a sprinkling of herbs, canned dolmas present an able canvas for the intrepid, but harried host. If you want to take them a step further, adding a quick homemade tzatziki sauce elevates these verdant dumplings to new heights. Sticking with Mediterranean flavors, tzatziki enriches canned dolmas while adding a bit of crunch and acid to every bite. And don't worry about tracking down obscure ingredients or burning time in the kitchen as tzatziki is quick to whip up with just a few everyday items.

A simple sauce that saves time

You've likely encountered tzatziki or some variant of it at a Greek eatery. Perhaps it has come to you drizzled on and brightening a gyro. This white, creamy sauce is rich to be sure, but also has a distinct vegetal crispness and punchy, aromatic flavor that make it a perfect pairing for meaty and starchy items.

While there are scads of recipes for tzatziki out there, we're partial to Tasting Table recipe developer Catherine Brooke's classic six-ingredient combination that comes together in minutes. Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, minced mint leaves, crushed garlic, and grated cucumber are all that you need to make the sauce, which is stirred together and allowed to sit to deepen and meld the flavors. The most labor intensive aspect of this recipe is grating the cucumber and squeezing out the excess moisture, but a box grater and clean tea towel make short work of it. All that's left is a little chopping, stirring, and patience.

Once you've mastered the tzatziki, feel free to augment it however you feel best serves the canned dolmas. A pinch of cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce nicely spice things up, while some thinly-sliced scallion tops add a bit of allium kick. Parsley underlines the herbaceousness when folded in, but also consider sprinkling it atop the tzatziki and/or dolmas as a finishing flourish.