Za’atar: The Ultimate Spice Blend

The Middle East is not any stranger to strife, and its kitchens are nearly as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all the culinary unrest? A regional spice mix called za’atar. The exact formulation varies throughout international locations—nay, throughout households even—and every believes its recipe to be superior.

We right here at Guy Connoisseur take a more reasonable 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 this wonder ingredient? Za’atar is a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and salt, with cumin, oregano, and different spices often being included as well. Earthy, savory, and tremendously aromatic, it is liable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor associated Mediterranean food.

True purists craft their own, however packaged blends are readily available on-line or at Mediterranean specialty shops, and lots of mainstream grocers, together with Complete Meals, carry it as well. Oh, and before you hit the shop? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Bear in mind: 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 identify it. You recognize the extremely-genuine, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-bought stuff style like reconstituted gerbil food? Teeming with za’atar. Or how concerning the vibrant, flavor-dense Greek salads you possibly can by no means appear to recreate once dwelling? Positively brimming with it. However traditional functions are just the start—this versatile ingredient works far past Mediterranean waters. Listed here are a few more options:

Blend it with sufficient olive oil to kind both a thick spread or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, if you’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, contemporary ciabatta or different Italian bread additionally works effectively)

Combine one half za’atar with one part 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 under the broiler till the marina simmers and the highest of the cheese starts to brown. Serve with bread.

Combine za’atar, zatar Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and crushed red pepper for a creamy salad dressing or all-purpose sauce

Sprinkle it over pizza (either 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. Both manner, clear some house on your spice rack—that is one ingredient you’ll need to maintain close at hand.