Za'atar blends together thyme, sesame seeds, and -here's the kicker - dried sumac! If you've never had it, sumac has a slightly astringent, lemony flavor. It can be pretty powerful on it's own, which is why we love it balanced with the other flavors in this mix.
This seasoning is used heavily throughout Middle Eastern cuisine, and it's not hard to find ways to use it! Za'atar can make a subtle background flavor for red meat or it can add a brighter note to fish and poultry.
It's also fantastic sprinkled on top of flatbread, over grilled vegetables, or used in dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, or tzatziki. We also add a few generous teaspoons if we make a Middle Eastern version of our weekday pasta salad.
You can find za'atar in Middle Eastern groceries, at many natural food stores, or online at places like Penzeys or The Spice House. You can also easily make your own blend at home using either fresh or dried ingredients. Here's a basic formula:
Za'atar Seasoning Blend
2 Tablespoons dried thyme
2 Tablespoons dried sumac
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted or un-toasted as you prefer
You can simply shake these ingredients together in a spice jar or grind them in a spice grinder for a finer powder. Some mixes will also add a tablespoon of marjoram or oregano to the mix. If you like the flavor of these herbs, feel free to add them!
As with all spices, keep this mix stored in a cool, dark place.
How do you use za'atar in your cooking?
(Image: The Spice House)