Zatar, or za'atar, is the Middle Eastern name for a family of herbs that includes oregano, thyme and marjoram. The way I know za'atar, though, is as a spice mixture that starts with those herbs — ground up — and adds toasted sesame seeds and salt. Sometimes, people add ground sumac, too. Mmm… Ever had it?
Growing up, on the days my mom would bake many loaves of pocket bread for the freezer, we'd pull out the za'atar and good olive oil for dipping. Called zeit oo za'atar (meaning “oil with za'atar“), here's how the dipping goes.
Tear off a piece of bread. Dip it in the olive oil, then dip it in the za'atar. Eat. Repeat.
We often ate bread, olive oil, and za'atar alongside a breakfast of fresh vegetables, fried eggs, and goat cheese. My mom would spread zeit ou za'atar on dough before baking for Middle Eastern pizza called manaqish. Za'atar can also be used with meats, grains, yogurt and veggies for amazing flavor. Oh, the food memories.
My mom has kept me in good supply of za'atar (purchased at Middle Eastern markets), so I haven't had occasion to make my own yet. I want to make my own when my jar runs out, though. Does anyone have a recipe to share? I'll be asking my mom if she has any old family formulas.
When shopping for za'atar, I suggest a Middle Eastern market. However, be careful, as I read the other day that some companies are using ground up pretzels or other fillers in the mixes. Sad.
You'll be seeing za'atar in tomorrow's Sourdough eCourse lesson. Whether you plan on using spelt or whole wheat flour, the lesson and one of the videos teaches how to make a beautiful swirl loaf. My loaf, below, includes za'atar, olive oil, olives, feta cheese, and salt. My husband declared it his favorite bread. I love that!
Tomorrow's lesson also teaches how to make dinner rolls and hamburger buns! For those new to spelt or curious about working with it, I'll be sharing spelt's peculiarities and show you how to make winning, light, and delicious bread goods from this wonderful flour.
Did you know? The Sourdough eCourse is open any time! We may have already started, but you can always come along mid-stream. Subscriptions are available any time.
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).