The Middle East is no stranger to strife, and its kitchens are almost as contentious as its borders. The catalyst for all of the culinary unrest? A regional spice mix called za’atar. The exact formulation varies across countries—nay, throughout households even—and every believes its recipe to be superior.
We here at Man Gourmet take a more reasonable stance: I’ve never encountered za’atar I didn’t like, and I’ve but to encounter a dish that didn’t profit from its addition.
So what exactly is that this marvel ingredient? Za’atar is a mix of sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and salt, with cumin, oregano, and other spices occasionally being included as well. Earthy, savory, and tremendously aromatic, it’s accountable for a lot of the pervasive, iconic taste associated Mediterranean food.
True purists craft their own, but packaged blends are readily available on-line or at Mediterranean specialty retailers, and many mainstream grocers, together with Complete Meals, carry it as well. Oh, and before you hit the shop? It’s pronounced “zAH-tahr,” with no nasal “aeh” inflection. (Keep in mind: It’s a spice, not a strep culture.)
Now, chances are high, you’ve already skilled this transformative ingredient; you just may not have been able to determine it. You know the extremely-genuine, luxuriant hummus that makes the shop-bought stuff taste like reconstituted gerbil meals? Teeming with za’atar. Or how in regards to the vibrant, taste-dense Greek salads you possibly can by no means appear to recreate as soon as house? Positively brimming with it. However conventional purposes are just the beginning—this versatile ingredient works far beyond Mediterranean waters. Listed here are just a few more options:
Blend it with enough olive oil to kind either a thick unfold or a looser dip, and use with bread (pita, in case you’re shooting for authenticity; if not, crusty, fresh ciabatta or other Italian bread additionally works effectively)
Combine one part za’atar with one half breadcrumbs. Coat pounded rooster 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.
Mix za’atar, Greek yogurt, white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, zaatar 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 just a few ideas to get you started. Give them a shot or provide you with your own. Either way, clear some area in your spice rack—this is one ingredient you’ll want to preserve close at hand.