Za’atar Seasoning

I only recently discovered Za’atar, but it’s one of those tastes that will stay in my culinary repertoire for the duration.  From what I can gather, the name refers either to a specific herb native to North Africa or a spice blend common in that same region.  I have never come across the herb called za’atar, so I am referring to the blend of spices I call Za’atar seasoning.  Like many native spice mixtures, it varies from region to region and even from household to household.  It can include a variety of spices such as oregano, marjaram, thyme, fennel, caraway, and savory, as well as sumac and sesame seeds. It can be sprinkled in olive oil and used as a dipping sauce for breads or filling for breads, or as a rub for meats or tofu, or poured generously on hummus.  For a while, I was buying the spice blend from a local spice shop, but then I discovered that it was even more heavenly made with fresh thyme from my garden, so I started making it myself.  As is the case with most spices, Za’atar seasoning is high in antioxidants and it also microbial, so a good addition to your holiday diet!

You can add and replace spices as needed, but here is my favorite simple Za’atar seasoning…you may not find sumac at your grocery store, but you should be able to find it at most specialty spice shops.

  • 1 Tablespoon sumac
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all of the ingredients in a mortar and pestle or a small blender.  You want to break open the sesame seeds so that they are digestible.  If you don’t have either of those tools, you could try crushing them on a cutting board using a flat-bottomed glass or something similar, along with a little elbow grease.  Optimally, you’ll open up the sesame seeds a bit to break up the hull; your body will have a hard time digesting them if they are intact.  Sprinkle the crushed mixture on hummus and other dips, or use it as a seasoned salt on tofu, beans, roasted vegetables, etc.  If you want to use it as a rub, stir it into about 1/4 cup olive oil.  This is also a yummy sandwich spread!  It’s a great way to bring flavor to dishes without adding excessive salt.  It’s such a simple thing, but adds incredible flavor.  I hope you’ll try it and enjoy!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] all of the hummus pizza possibilities since then. As you know, I’m also obsessed with Za’atar. On top of all of that, I have gotten over my longstanding aversion to olives. I think we just […]

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