How to Make Za’atar Spice Blend

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The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it “Magic Dust.”

Dating back to at least the 13th century, za’atar is at its simplest thyme, sumac, sesame seed, and salt. The proportions of each vary a little depending on whose kitchen you’re in at the time.

You can buy za’atar at a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean grocery or at a specialty spice shop such as Penzeys. Or you can quite easily make your own.

Za’atar is a basically a condiment, like a seasoned salt, which you can sprinkle over all sorts of dishes.

I have a little jar sitting in with the other spices ready-to-go.

Mix it with some olive oil and dip bread into it. Sprinkle it generously over vegetables, roasted or when serving, and it adds another layer of flavor that I just love. Sprinkled over scrambled eggs at breakfast! Or with freshly-popped popcorn? Get outta town.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

I keep it simple, textbook if you will, with equal parts sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. Then a bit of good salt (I love using Maldon flakes for this).

I do toast my sesame seeds and I think most people do — about 5 minutes over medium heat — but it’s not a strict requirement.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Everything goes into a spice grinder a.k.a. clean coffee grinder and gets pulsed a few times. I’m not trying for absolute powder, a few sesame seed pieces are nice, but I do prefer it over blends that don’t grind at all.  Just a personal preference though.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Keep it in a sealed jar and use liberally.

 

I’ll share one of my favorite uses.

Cut a potato or two into chunks in a baking dish.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle generously with za’atar, maybe a little Aleppo pepper or cumin. Toss.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Then into a 400°F oven for 40-50 minutes.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

You can’t beat it. I do hope you’ll give it a try.

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

Za'atar Spice Blend

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Za'atar is a terrific blend of herb and spice that goes well with so many things. The renowned Chef Yotam Ottolenghi calls it "Magic Dust." Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher / sea / flake salt

Instructions

  1. Toast sesame seeds over medium heat if desired.

  2. Mix all ingredients together.

  3. If desired, pulse briefly in a spice grinder.


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4 thoughts on “How to Make Za’atar Spice Blend

  1. I used to have a little canister of zaatar on my kitchen counter and used it a few times a week. I love it, and then when I moved, I gave it to a neighbor and haven’t replaced it yet. This inspires me — to go to a Mediterranean store and find some zaatar for my damn self. :=>

  2. Well described as magic dust. For me having a really high quality Sumac is the key. Our favorite way to enjoy Za’atar is to mix it with dipping olive oil. Then when the fresh pita comes out of the oven we brush it on. It’s also good in a yogurt, cucumber and garlic dipping sauce. Never tried it with popcorn, but why not. Great on homemade fries as well.
    Another great Middle Eastern (Northern Africa) spice mix is Ras el hanout. It’s a bit spicy and is great on all kinds of protein and curries.
    Nice post Bill.

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