The Middle East is not any stranger to strife, and its kitchens are practically as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all of the culinary unrest? A regional spice mix called za’atar. The exact formulation varies across nations—nay, across households even—and each believes its recipe to be superior.
We here at Guy Connoisseur take a extra 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 exactly is that this marvel ingredient? Za’atar is a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and salt, with cumin, oregano, and different spices occasionally being included as well. Earthy, savory, and tremendously fragrant, it is chargeable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor related Mediterranean food.
True purists craft their very own, but packaged blends are readily available online or at Mediterranean specialty retailers, and many mainstream grocers, together with Whole Meals, carry it as well. Oh, and earlier than you hit the shop? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Remember: zaatar It’s a spice, not a strep culture.)
Now, likelihood is, you’ve already skilled this transformative ingredient; you just may not have been able to determine it. You understand the ultra-authentic, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-purchased stuff taste like reconstituted gerbil food? Teeming with za’atar. Or how about the vibrant, taste-dense Greek salads you’ll be able to by no means seem to recreate as soon as house? Positively brimming with it. However traditional purposes are just the beginning—this versatile ingredient works far past Mediterranean waters. Here are a few more options:
Blend it with enough olive oil to form both a thick spread or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, for those who’re capturing for authenticity; if not, crusty, contemporary ciabatta or other Italian bread additionally works nicely)
Combine one part za’atar with one half breadcrumbs. Coat pounded hen breasts in egg wash, adopted 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 top 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-function sauce
Sprinkle it over pizza (both your own or carryout)
Add it to scrambled eggs or omelets
Use it as a rub for 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 just a few ideas to get you started. Give them a shot or come up with your own. Either manner, clear some area on your spice rack—this is one ingredient you’ll want to keep shut at hand.