We have a bit of a herbal habit at the moment. Za’atar is popping up in all kinds of ways and is rather addictive. A citrusy, salted herb and spice mix popular across the Near and Middle East. A mildly flavoured spice, it can be mixed into food before cooking or added as a seasoning. You can use it when roasting meat, fish or vegetables, or scatter on bread, salads, houmous and labneh (strained yogurt).
It is widely available- from Ethnic food stores to some supermarkets. As with any spice mix, purists may say it is better to mix your own, but it is worth seeking out a premix to get a taste for it, and trying different varieties if you can.
There are many regional variations but the spine of Za’atar spice mix is the use of fragrant herbs including thyme (often wild thyme), marjoram and/or oregano. The citrus taste comes from powdered, dried sumac berries. Toasted sesame seeds and sea salt are often included. Regional variations exist and some recipes may include fennel seeds , ground cumin and coriander
Here are some ideas on how to use Za’atar. First up, quick and easy ideas, using it as a seasoning. We have also linked to some of our own and others’ recipes for you to try if you have a liking for it.
Take a teaspoon of the spice mix, mix it into a tablespoon of olive oil and brush it onto some flatbreads before baking them. If you are pressed for time, you can even do this on shop bought flatbread and reheat it with the spice brushed on. Traditionally, bread can be baked plain and served with bowls of olive oil and za’atar to dip into.
We made a Za’atar and olive focaccia at our last supperclub – a straightforward focaccia recipe that we garnished just before baking. We then added some Argan oil on top of the freshly baked loaf in addition to a generous dose of olive oil. The argan oil being a nutty flavoured oil that is delicious but costly so used with care.
A cup of Greek yogurt, half tablespoon of tahini and a teaspoon of Za’atar makes for a light, dip. Serve with crudites.
If you like seafood, sprinkle some Za’atar liberally over just cooked scallops. Here we served with grated carrot and cucumber in a simple vinaigrette and some flat leaf parsley.
More recipes from our blog:
And some other ideas:
this Moroccan Tagine, from Jeanne at Cooksister
Chicken Drumsticks with Za’atar from Sylvia at Happiness is Homemade
Ren Behan cooked a recipe by Silvena Rowe for Watermelon and Feta with Za’atar crumble