Ways to use yogurt in your cooking (i.e., put it in everything)

My yogurt obsession began at an early age, when my mom would hand me a container of it on my way out the door as a “you’re late for school” breakfast. Recently I’ve learned to love the thicker, richer Greek variety, but I remain an equal-opportunity fanatic (in fact, most of my suggestions below work with both Greek and plain).

The chefs at all my favorite spots make it easy to continue this love affair. They use it to dress up shaved vegetables, cool down spicy meats, and replace boring old cream as the whipped topping on what seems like every dessert. At Sqirl in Los Angeles, Jessica Koslow scents it with cumin, then swooshes it below blistered green beans. “I love it because I always want something refreshing and light,” says Koslow, who adds dollops to brighten and balance fatty or fiery foods.

Taking a cue from chefs like Dan Barber at Blue Hill and the restaurant’s line of savory yogurts, I’ve returned to my yogurt-for-breakfast ways, but now I stir in shallots, cucumbers, and herbs, not fruit. I’ve also been inspired to mix it with freshly grated garlic (you’ll forget aioli exists) and serve it with shortcakes (still counts as breakfast!). It’s become as ubiquitous as olive oil in the way I cook and eat, and not even because of all those probiotics—though they are a nice bonus.

Yogurt, you’re so versatile:

1. Boost your breakfast

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You can eat it straight from the container, sure, but yogurt’s also great slathered on toast in lieu of butter, or as the base for a chia pudding.

2. Use it in salad dressings

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Just add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to about a half cup yogurt, thin with water, then season with salt and pepper. If you’d like, bolster with cider vinegar and chopped shallot.

3. Replace your mayo

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Lighten up chicken salad, dips, or spicy crab toasts.

4. Try it in a marinade

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The enzymes in yogurt help break down proteins, which tenderizes meat and fish. The upshot? It’s ideal for marinades, especially ones with Greek and Middle Eastern flavor profiles.

Check out more ways to use versatile yogurt.

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