Good on a bagel with cream cheese and GREAT over avocado toast, this tangy seasoning is the “hot sauce“ of spice mixes; put it on everything. Carry it in your purse, keep it on your dinner table, and stock it in your pantry. You can easily make your own to keep in an airtight container or spice jar for many months. But, trust me the mix won’t last that long before you eat it all.
Here are 3 delicious dinner recipes using the unique, versatile, tangy spice mix!
Don’t be intimidated by new ingredients. Take a chance and expand your pantry. A great, inexpensive, and non-committal way of doing that is through spices. Unlike refrigerated items that must be used up pretty quickly after being opened, spices allow you the shelf life to take your time using them up. You can experiment more with them when you have time and not feel the pressure to avoid letting things go to waist.
Ok, now what is this stuff? Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made with a base of Sumac, a dried berry ground into a fine powder. I regularly ate the spice during my college days in San Francisco. Restaurants of varied nationalities from Lebanese, Syrian, and Israeli, incorporated Sumac into most of their recipes. It’s not solely used as a lemony flavoring, but as a beautiful burgundy-purple garnish atop pools of delicious hummus or smokey baba ganoush.
Why make my own when I can just buy it?
Well, it simply takes 5 minutes. But, I like to make my spice mixes in general because it allows me to control the salt content and sometimes I prefer more of one ingredient than another. Yes, you can buy a ready-made Za’atar spice mix, but you don’t know what you are going to get. They saturate some with mostly salt, scrimping on the actual spices.
Also, various regions of the Middle East emphasize particular ingredients. In my recipe, I play up the tanginess of the sumac, paired with the nutty, buttery taste of the sesame seeds. I downplay the thyme because in my experience Za’atar can go bitter if it’s too much at the forefront of a dry blend. I can guarantee that once you make my Za’atar Spice mix, the only thing you’ll be concerned with is running out!
Click HERE for my Za’atar Recipe.
For a great read on one person’s experience tasting Za’atar for the first time, check out Za-atar: A Spice Mix With Biblical Roots And Brain Food Reputation.
1. Light & Fresh: Za’atar Pizzas with Labna/Labneh
These fresh, healthy, and oh-so-flavorful “pizzas” are an easy sunny day meal that looks impressive while secretly being so simple to make. Salty Kalamata Tapenade compliments perfectly tangy Za’atar with creamy labna.
2. (Vegan) Stuffed Celery Root w/Za’atar; A Cozy Sunday Roasting Recipe, Set it and Forget it
The easy prep for these stuffed celery roots only takes 5 minutes. Then pop them in the oven, grab a seat on the couch and flip on the game or your current binge-watch. The massive bulbs take around 2 hours to roast. So, as long as you set a timer they’re a kind of “set it and forget it” recipe.
Tangy Za’atar covered chickpeas, grassy parsley, and nutty quinoa compliment the under-rated celery root! Toss in a bit of salty feta if you are Vegan-ish, and you’ll brighten up these grey days easier than you think!
Celery root, or celeriac, is an undervalued hearty veggie. Once cooked the bulbs aren’t starchy or mealy like potatoes, but creamy and considerably more flavorful. They have an aromatic flavor similar to an artichoke without as much sweetness. It’s tough to explain how they taste. You just have to try them!
3. Easy Za’atar Chicken with Tahini Sauce, Experience Middle Eastern Flavor, 37g of protein
This easy to make, flavorful meal will surprise you at your first bite. Although it may not look too special, the tanginess from the Za’atar combined with a little kick from Aleppo Pepper is unique and refreshing. Using boneless chicken breasts, makes this a super quick weeknight meal that will very quickly become part of your regular dinner rotation.
There are some unique ingredients in this recipe such as Za’atar and Aleppo Pepper that may be new to you. You can order Aleppo Pepper from my favorite spice purveyor here at The Spice House, Chicago. If you give it a try, you are in for a treat! (Substitute with 1/2 the amount of crushed red pepper.)