Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fun New Foods: Za'atar

So it seems this week I will follow the theme of the week's region...at least for today's post. Yesterday, I posted about scallop leek pizza with a za'atar crust. And because za'atar isn't very common in the States, I wanted to do some more research on it. So here goes...

You've seen the spice mixtures at the store before - Provencal spice, Italian herbs, Asian spice mix, curry spice, Louisiana spice, you name it. There's a spice mix for any flavor palette you could whip up. Spice mix for poultry, fish, pork, beef, veggies, ten times over. There's spicy spice, sweet spice, fragrant spice, spicy sweet spice, woody spice.

Za'atar, when broken down into its spices, isn't all that exotic. It's oregano, marjoram, thyme, ground sesame seeds, salt, and may also include (depending on the variety) cumin, coriander, and fennel seed.

My local farmer's market makes a wonderful za'atar stick...bread seasoned with oil and za'atar spice that's rolled up into a thin wafer, like a savory cookie. And man are they seriously addictive. I should make those this weekend, that sounds highly yummy.

Za'atar can be used on bread and veggies. It can be combined with olive oil to make a dip. It can be sprinkled on labneh (a drained yogurt that's almost like cheese). It can be sprinkled on hummus. In Israel, it's often a side you can sprinkle on pizza (rather like we have hot pepper flakes here).

In Lebanon, there's a belief that eating za'atar will make the body and mind strong, so children taking exams often eat za'atar bread for breakfast.

I see my recipes for this weekend taking shape...hummus and za'atar sticks.

1 comment:

Leah J. Utas said...

Interesting about the Za'atar. Sounds like a toothsome combo.

My first thought was "The Lights of Zetar" from the original Star Trek series. If I make this I may not get past calling it that instead.