The Middle East is not 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 across nations—nay, throughout households even—and each believes its recipe to be superior.
We right here at Guy Gourmet take a extra average stance: I’ve by no means encountered za’atar I didn’t like, and I’ve yet to come across a dish that didn’t profit from its addition.
So what exactly is this wonder 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 aromatic, it’s liable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor related Mediterranean food.
True purists craft their own, however packaged blends are readily available online or at Mediterranean specialty shops, and plenty of mainstream grocers, including Entire Foods, carry it as well. Oh, and earlier than you hit the store? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Keep in mind: It’s a spice, not a strep culture.)
Now, chances are high, you’ve already experienced this transformative ingredient; you just might not have been able to identify it. You realize the ultra-authentic, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-bought stuff style like reconstituted gerbil food? Teeming with za’atar. Or zaatar how in regards to the vibrant, flavor-dense Greek salads you can never seem to recreate once house? Positively brimming with it. However conventional functions are just the start—this versatile ingredient works far beyond Mediterranean waters. Listed below are a number of more options:
Mix it with enough olive oil to form both a thick spread or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, should you’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, recent ciabatta or different Italian bread additionally works properly)
Mix one part za’atar with one part breadcrumbs. Coat pounded rooster breasts in egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs, and pan-fry. Serve with tzaziki for a Middle Eastern spin on a Southern classic.
Coat a round 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-objective sauce
Sprinkle it over pizza (both your personal or carryout)
Add it to scrambled eggs or omelets
Use it as a rub for grilled fish
Or just 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. Both approach, clear some area in your spice rack—that is one ingredient you’ll want to preserve close at hand.