Za’atar is the name for both a traditional Middle Eastern seasoning blend and the pungent green herb that gives the blend its intense, earthy character. The hardy herb, which grows wild, tastes like a combination of oregano, marjoram, summer savory and thyme — all of which can be used as substitutes if dried za’atar isn’t available. As with all spice blends, recipes vary widely depending on the region and the cook, but this one, adapted from Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte in New York, includes ground sumac berries for acidity, toasted sesame seeds for their rich, earthy notes, and a little salt as well. Za’atar can be used in marinades for grilled or roasted poultry or meats, mixed into dips, salads and egg dishes, or set on the table to be sprinkled on dishes as a bright and herby condiment.
- Serves: 1 person
- 1tablespoon/9 grams sesame seeds, preferably unhulled
- 3tablespoons/5 grams dried za’atar (see Note)
- 1tablespoon/10 grams crushed or ground sumac
- ¼teaspoon fine sea salt
Step 1Place a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool.
Step 2Using a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle, ground the za’atar leaves with the sumac and salt. Add to the bowl with toasted sesame and mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.