Za’atar: The Ultimate Spice Mix

The Middle East is not any stranger to strife, and its kitchens are almost as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all 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 here at Guy Connoisseur take a extra average stance: I’ve never encountered za’atar I didn’t like, and I’ve but to come across a dish that didn’t profit from its addition.

So what precisely is this marvel 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’s chargeable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor related Mediterranean food.

True purists craft their very own, but packaged blends are readily available on-line or at Mediterranean specialty outlets, and lots of mainstream grocers, including Complete Meals, carry it as well. Oh, and before 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, you’ve already skilled this transformative ingredient; you just might not have been able to determine it. You realize the extremely-authentic, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-purchased stuff style like reconstituted gerbil meals? Teeming with za’atar. Or how concerning the vibrant, taste-dense Greek salads you’ll be able to never appear to recreate as soon as residence? Positively brimming with it. However conventional applications are just the beginning—this versatile ingredient works far past Mediterranean waters. Here are just a few extra options:

Blend it with sufficient olive oil to kind 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 different Italian bread also works effectively)

Combine 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 below the broiler till the marina simmers and the highest of the cheese starts to brown. Serve with bread.

Combine za’atar, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, zaatar lemon juice, and crushed red pepper for a creamy salad dressing or all-purpose 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 few ideas to get you started. Give them a shot or provide you with your own. Both means, clear some house on your spice rack—this is one ingredient you’ll wish to keep shut at hand.