Several years ago, back in my mid-twenties, I happened upon an indescribably delicious morsel at one of Portland’s most longstanding and well-appreciated Lebanese restaurants. A simple herbed flatbread swept me off my feet. Yes it was perfectly baked and boasted a fragrant, gentle olive oil, but most notably, it featured an herb mix that exceeded my ability to comprehend it. I felt a little like Lois Lane after a run-in with Superman. What was in that spice mix? When will I taste it again?
I mentioned that Superflatbread here and there in my circles for a few weeks with no leads. Eventually, I tucked away the memory for later cherishing, like one might with the memory of a summer fling, or a romantic rescue by a spandex-skinned superhero.
When the spice mix re-emerged via 101cookbooks, it came with a name, za’atar, and instantly reignited my interest. Za’atar, you finally came back to me. I’d love to get to know you a little better. Whatddya say? And so, our relationship was rekindled.
There are lots of recipes online for za’atar, and delightfully, they vary quite a lot. In fact, it sounds like there might be as many versions of za’atar as there are of tomato sauce—even proprietary family recipes. This all is to say that there’s no need for perfectionism with this very simple recipe—there’s only what tastes perfect to you. Below, I offer a starting point for developing your own za’atar recipe. Of course, za’atar is delicious on flatbread, but it can be use in many other ways, as discussed at the kitchn.
Spice mixes make a great favor because they are simple and inexpensive to put together, and they offer a small but potentially expansive culinary adventure. I created a thoughtful wedding favor by packaging up some homemade za’atar in 4-ounce tins with clear tops and adorned them with personalized labels in the Casablanca style in golden brown in the designer address label shape and the petal label shape (sizes ALCB02 and 32).
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons sumac
- ¼ cup dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oregano, marjoram, mint (optional)
- Combine the ingredients and mix well. If you like a softer consistency, give this herb mix a spin in a spice grinder.
- Store your za’atar in an airtight container and enjoy it on fresh baked pita bread with olive oil, or on just about anything savory: atop roasted veggies, dashed on baked potatoes, as a meat rub, sprinkled on orange slices, as a special salt for hard boiled eggs, tucked into a sandwich. The possibilities are endless.
Used In This Project:
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