My za’atar obsession is as strong as ever. It has come to the point where I need to get it a little pinch pot so that is can sit on the worktop with the sea salt – easy to dip in to each time I cook.
If you’ve no idea what I am talking about, let me introduce you to za’atar herb mix. Different people mix different ways, but it usually contains salt, sesame seeds, oregano / marjoram, sumac and thyme. Middle eastern in origin, I see it around much more now than ever before, and I for one love the heady, savoury hit is has.
We interrupt this piece for a pubic service announcement…I wrote this article many moons ago, just never finished it. I have decided to carry on writing about food during the Covid-19 pandemic for my own mental wellbeing, food is my escapism, and hopefully to give you some escapism too. I hope you understand 💜
You can of course mix your own to your preferred taste, but I get mine from Spice Kitchen UK. Even though I buy 100g at a time and I can get this this pretty quickly. I have tried other blends, but I keep coming back to this one.
I was lucky enough to grab an hour with Sanjay from Spice Kitchen recently to chat about how he and his mum have slowly built the business from the kitchen table upwards. You can listen to our chat on the She Eats podcast – click through for links to other episodes as well.
Looking back over my recipes, I can’t believe that I haven’t shared more ways of using za’atar! It is ridiculously versatile, so if you don’t have it in your herby repertoire here are just a few reasons why I think you should.
1 – Baked feta cheese
If you are not baking your feta, then you are not doing it right! Baking feta doesn’t melt it, but instead gives it a tender, wobbly bite. Bake a whole block and use it in salads across a few days. Make za’atar baked feta using my simple method which you can find here – just sub the sumac for a heaped tablespoon of za’atar.
2 – Za’atar hassleback potatoes
These are on such heavy rotation in our meal planning now – we have them with salad, fish, roast chicken and I will take leftover to work to eat cold with salad for lunch. Give me a hassleback over a roast potato any day of the week!
Find my method for hassleback potatoes here. Top tip (I need to update that post) – pop the spud in the bowl of a wooden spoon and you can cut them easily without slicing all the way through. Ta-da!
3 – Roast chicken
Some people think that you shouldn’t mess around with the classics. I think that you should follow Sabrina Ghayour’s lead and cover your bird with citrus and za’atar – it is a thing of beauty.
4 – Bread…all the bread
Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft has been helping me to make better pita and challah for a couple of years now. It is a book of Israeli baking and one of my favourite, and most used baking books. Borrow it or buy it, then check out the za’atar pita, za’atar twists and even za’atar babkas. His Instagram account is a homage to carbs and one of the reasons I will never stop loving bread!
5 – Popcorn
Yeah you heard me! Follow this method for herby, cheesy popcorn, but use a good heaped tablespoon of za’atar instead of oregano. It is the savoury snack of dreams.
6 – Condiment
I use za’atar like people use salt – to ramp up the flavour of almost anything. How do you like your eggs in the morning? I like mine dippy or scrambled with a pinch of za’atar on top. Chips? Za’atar! Salad? Za’atar! Cream cheese? Za’atar! If you are looking at a plate of bland food, sprinkle this magic mix and fear no more!
Are you a za’atar fan like me? How do you use it? I am always looking for more ways to get it into my meals, so any ideas do let me know!