Za’atar, pronounced “zaa tur,” is also spelled zaatar, za’tar, zahtar, and zahatar. This Middle Eastern spice blend is used all over the globe, popularly in North Africa and Turkey. Za’atar has been used to identify both a spice blend and a class of herbs. What exactly is Za’atar, then? It’s a wild herb, a condiment, a dip, and a spice blend! It may be eaten by itself as a snack or used as a bread dipping seasoning. Za’atar is an ancient cultural spice blend that serves as a unique identifying culinary aspect of several countries throughout the Middle East. Much like other blends, this is one that is usually specific to each family, but there are some common ingredients in all of them. Each nation that has a version of it insists that theirs is the truest and best version, but we think that’s a matter of personal preference.
What’s in it?
This salt free version of an Israeli Za’atar is hand blended from sesame seeds, sumac, coriander, thyme, cumin, and black pepper.
The flavor profile of our it has a complex nutty and woodsy intensity while the sumac adds an acidic lift that is a bit tart like lemon juice. You’ll also pick up on the herby floral undertones.
Where to Use Za’atar
It is most frequently used as a table condiment, dusted on food on its own, or stirred into some olive oil as a dip for soft, plush flatbreads. It is sprinkled on hummus or eaten with labneh, a popular Middle Eastern cheese. It also makes a superb dry rub for roasted chicken, fish or lamb, as well as on firm or starchy vegetables like cauliflower or potatoes.
In Lebanon, Za’atar is most often associated with breakfast, a cue well worth taking. Try sprinkling some on eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. Or add some to your next batch of lemon cookies – lemon, thyme, and sesame are a trio on par with our familiar infatuation with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Za’atar seems equally at home in both sweet and savory dishes. Many people eat it, as is, right out of their hand, but be careful as it can quickly become strangely addicting. When paired with popcorn, it may become even more so. We also use it as a savory balance to the sweetness of an oven roasted winter squash and as a secret ingredient in big hearty soups
Some of our favorite recipes with this blend includes Bread with Tomatoes, Za’atar Spiced Meatballs, Za’atar Crusted Baked Chicken and Roasted Carrots with Za’atar and Feta.