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For once we’ve got a lush dill crop, the key apparently being that clever combination of good sunlight and good drainage. Only problem has been a lack of garden partners, so for most of the season we’ve been chopping the herb into piccata sauces — simple amalgams of lemon, butter, and dill served over sauteed chicken breasts or grilled fish, a throwback to Charlie’s New England childhood.

That’s until this week, when the first cucumbers came ready, and just in time for dill to send up its yellow umbrels. So the overlap with cukes won’t be more than ten days or so, but still. It’s enough time for tasty cucumber salads dressed with this easy dill-yogurt sauce adapted from the incomparable Deborah Madison. The sauce is also terrific with fried rounds of eggplant, available now at the farmers market.

A couple of tricks here in your prep. First is to drain the yogurt of whey using a fine-mesh strainer, which yields a thickened yogurt ‘cheese’ — I find that homemade yogurt releases a fair quantity of whey, and straining firms things considerably. Alternately opt for a store brand like Nancy’s Organic Yogurt, which comes almost as thick as the Greek stuff, which gains body from pre-drainage. Second trick is to pound the garlic to a pulp with a bit of salt, which mellows the flavor and diffuses it more evenly through the sauce.

Recipe: Dill-Yogurt Sauce

½ cup plain yogurt / 1 small clove garlic / ¼ tsp salt / 1 tbls dill, chopped finely / pinch cayenne

Drain yogurt in a fine mesh strainer until fairly firm, about 30 minutes. Pound garlic with salt and add to yogurt when yogurt is fully drained. Stir in dill and cayenne, correct for salt, and chill for 30 minutes before serving tossed with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta, or atop fried eggplant. Makes ½ cup. It’s best on the day it’s prepared.

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