The Middle East isn’t any stranger to strife, and its kitchens are nearly as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all of the culinary unrest? A regional spice mix called za’atar. The exact formulation varies throughout countries—nay, throughout households even—and every believes its recipe to be superior.
We right here at Guy Connoisseur take a more moderate stance: I’ve never encountered za’atar I didn’t like, and I’ve yet to come across a dish that didn’t benefit from its addition.
So what precisely is that this wonder ingredient? Za’atar is a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and salt, with cumin, oregano, and different spices sometimes being included as well. Earthy, savory, and tremendously aromatic, it is answerable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor associated Mediterranean food.
True purists craft their very own, however packaged blends are readily available on-line or at Mediterranean specialty outlets, and plenty of mainstream grocers, including Whole Foods, carry it as well. Oh, and before you hit the shop? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Remember: It’s a spice, not a strep culture.)
Now, likelihood is, you’ve already skilled this transformative ingredient; you just won’t have been able to determine it. You know the ultra-genuine, luxuriant hummus that makes the store-purchased stuff style like reconstituted gerbil food? Teeming with za’atar. Or how about the vibrant, taste-dense Greek salads you possibly can by no means seem to recreate as soon as dwelling? Positively brimming with it. But traditional functions are just the start—this versatile ingredient works far beyond Mediterranean waters. Listed below are a few more options:
Mix it with sufficient olive oil to type both a thick unfold or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, for those who’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, recent ciabatta or other Italian bread also works well)
Mix one part za’atar with one half breadcrumbs. Coat pounded chicken breasts in egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs, and pan-fry. Serve with tzaziki for a Middle Eastern spin on a Southern classic.
Coat a spherical of goat cheese in za’atar, then partially submerge in marinara in an oven-proof bowl. Place beneath the broiler until the marina simmers and the highest of the cheese begins to brown. Serve with bread.
Mix za’atar, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper for a creamy salad dressing or all-goal sauce
Sprinkle it over pizza (either your personal or carryout)
Add it to scrambled eggs or omelets
Use it as a rub for zatar grilled fish
Or simply sauté and toss shrimp with za’atar, season Greek yogurt with smoked paprika and za’atar, and assemble on toast.
These are just a couple of ideas to get you started. Give them a shot or provide you with your own. Either method, clear some area in your spice rack—this is one ingredient you’ll wish to maintain close at hand.