Uses for yogurt

Cynthia Stone
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In 2006, I wrote a column to help you use the yogurt in your fridge before it was only fit for the garbage. Who knew the yogurt market would explode and we would be scarfing the stuff by the bucket to get the bacterial health benefits?
First, an admission. The last thing I reach for during a serious snack attack is a tub of yogurt. I'm crazy for it in hot dishes, baked goods and on top of a million things, but by itself it's boring. I wish I loved it the way so many of you do, but I don't, so there it is.
Even if you are one of those yogurt nuts, stay with me. Today I've got some great ideas to work with your favourite - or your not-so-favourite - miracle food.

Yogurt Chicken Goulash
Sour cream and beef are the original goulash ingredients, but if you're thinking light these days, try this delicious variation.
If you're in a hurry, you can more than halve the cooking time with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, but bone-in tastes better. The skin also adds flavour and keeps the meat moist, but remove it before cooking to reduce fat and calories.
2 lbs. chicken pieces, bone in and skin on
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (or water)
1 cup plain regular or low-fat yogurt
1 tsp. brown sugar
Dredge chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, shaking off the excess. Brown thoroughly in oil and set aside. Remove and discard all but 1 tbsp. fat then add onions. Fry until golden and soft, then add garlic and paprika. Fry until fragrant then stir in broth and wine. Return chicken pieces to pan, cover and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove and discard skin - it will be flabby by now. Stir yogurt and brown sugar into pan juices and stir over low heat just until hot - don't boil. Pour over chicken and serve with noodles or rice.

Peachy Yogurt Pork Chops
If you're always looking for ways to bake chops, here's one for your recipe box. Easy and flavourful, this dish will appeal to kids and company. Serve with potatoes, rice, noodles, or chopped vegetable salad - the lightly sweet sauce is versatile and goes well with any sides you can think of. Apricot or ginger jam, or a combination of the two, are great variations.
6 thick pork chops
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (reserve the stalks, leaving them whole)
4 bay leaves
2 medium onions, quartered
1-1/2 cups regular plain yogurt - low-fat won't work as well
1/2 cup peach preserves or jam
Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper and brown in oil. Add wine, thyme, parsley stalks (the leaves will be added at the end), bay leaves and onions. Cover and bake at 350 F until pork is tender. Fish out and discard thyme and parsley stalks, bay leaves and onion. Remove chops and keep warm. Add yogurt and jam to pot and simmer until thickened as you like it. Stir in chopped parsley, pour over chops and serve.

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

This go-to sauce is almost too simple to be considered a recipe, but with two variations - one for savoury and one for sweet dishes - and a great tangy flavour that complements dozens of meal ideas, I could hardly leave it out. The honeyed version dresses up everything from fruit salad to pancakes. If you use pre-sweetened yogurt, reduce the amount of honey. Replacing the sweet with garlic and fresh cilantro makes this the perfect companion for all things Mexican as well as simply grilled, baked or fried chicken, pork or fish. Try it on potatoes, rice or cabbage rolls, too. Both versions work with low-fat yogurt.
Savoury Version:
1 cup plain yogurt
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
pinch each salt and pepper
Sweet Version:
1 cup plain, vanilla or fruit-flavoured yogurt
1/4 cup honey
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all ingredients of the version you've chosen and refrigerate until ready to use.

Banana Yogurt Pancakes
If yogurt on its own doesn't thrill your crew in the morning, try this recipe out tomorrow. These are also great for dessert - dress them up with toasted slivered almonds and sliced bananas or other fruit, top with maple syrup and whipped cream, and you have a spectacular finale.
1-1/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup regular or low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter or margarine
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together yogurt, bananas, egg, brown sugar and melted butter. Add milk and vanilla and add liquid to dry ingredients all at once. Stir only until moistened. Fry by spoonfuls in a lightly greased frying pan over medium heat until tops are lacy with bubbles. Flip and brown lightly on the other side.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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