Za’atar: The Ultimate Spice Blend

The Middle East is no 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 international locations—nay, throughout households even—and every believes its recipe to be superior.

We right here at Guy Gourmand take a extra moderate stance: I’ve never encountered za’atar I didn’t like, and I’ve yet to encounter a dish that didn’t profit from its addition.

So what precisely is that 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 fragrant, it’s chargeable for much of the pervasive, iconic flavor related Mediterranean food.

True purists craft their very own, however packaged blends are readily available on-line or at Mediterranean specialty outlets, and lots of mainstream grocers, zaatar including 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 experienced this transformative ingredient; you just won’t have been able to determine it. You know the ultra-genuine, luxuriant hummus that makes the store-bought stuff style 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 once home? Positively brimming with it. But conventional purposes are just the beginning—this versatile ingredient works far beyond Mediterranean waters. Listed below are a few extra options:

Mix it with enough olive oil to type both a thick unfold or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, in case you’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, recent ciabatta or different Italian bread additionally works well)

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 round of goat cheese in za’atar, then partially submerge in marinara in an oven-proof bowl. Place underneath the broiler until the marina simmers and the top of the cheese starts to brown. Serve with bread.

Combine za’atar, 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 (both your individual 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 a number of concepts to get you started. Give them a shot or come up with your own. Either means, clear some space in your spice rack—that is one ingredient you’ll need to preserve shut at hand.