Za'atar is a spice I only discovered after I had been eating it for years. My favorite pita shop in Syracuse, NY sold this amazing pita bread with spices and olive oil on top. The day I realized those spices were za'atar was the day I started making the pita at home (sorry El Saha!). Then I couldn't help but add za'atar to everything!
Za'atar can refer to both an herb and a blend of spices. One type of za'atar is actually a species of wild thyme found throughout the Middle East. Another type is known throughout the Mediterranean as European oregano or marjoram. However, za'atar also refers to a blend of many different spices, and that blend can differ based on where you buy it. Typically za'atar includes oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, as well as marjoram, coriander, and number of other spices. My favorite spice shop sells several varieties including Lebanese, Israeli, Syrian, and Jordanian. Any type will do for this recipe.
8 cups popped popcorn, still hot
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (*omit if your za'atar blend already contains salt)
2 tablespoons za'atar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pour oil over hot popcorn, toss to coat. In a small bowl, mix salt, za'atar, and pepper. Pour mixture over popcorn and toss until well-incorporated.
Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper for a spicy kick
If serving to non-vegans, add freshly grated Parmesan
• Za'atar, various types available from Kalustyan's, $5.99 for a 2 ounce jar
(Images: Stephanie Barlow)