Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Za’atar: What Is It and How Do I Cook with It?

(Left) Za'atar                                                          (Right) Sumac
Za’atar (aka zatar or zahtar) is a spice blend that has been around for centuries and used primarily in the Middle East.  Travelers have come across it sprinkled on pita bread, hummus, meat, salads and roast potatoes and began searching for it when they got back home.  Now it’s available in some ethnic groceries and online at, and

What’s in za’atar?   Toasted sesame seeds, salt, thyme or oregano and sumac. 

You ask what is sumac?  First let me say it has nothing to do with poison sumac.  Edible sumac is a dark red spice made from dried and crushed berries harvested from sumac bushes.  It has a distinctive sour taste and livens up whatever you sprinkle it on.  It is generally available wherever za’atar is sold.

For a quick appetizer, add 1 tablespoon za’atar to 1/2 cup olive oil, mix, pour into a dish and dip warm pita bread into it. 

Last night I added za’atar to stuffed baked tomatoes, and it improved the flavor enormously.

                        For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"

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