One of my foodie friends, Laviza, recently posted a recipe on her blog (www.lazizabites.com) for Za’atar Grilled Asparagus with Onions and Garlic. Laziza means delicious in Arabic, not to be confused with her name Laviza, which in my dictionary also means delicious… trust me, I’ve eaten her cooking. Laviza’s blog focuses on global cuisine and she always has something unusual to share from her kitchen. This asparagus from her blog looked great and I wanted to give it a try. I’d heard about za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture, but had never tasted it and certainly didn’t have any on hand. After a little research and a quick consult with Laviza I made my own.
I’ve been slowly expanding my spice collection. The breadth of spices available is mind-blowing. My collection already included ground sumac, a key ingredient in za’atar. Sumac has a unique sour, almost vinegary taste. It’s a must for this recipe. I would recommend doubling this batch of Za’atar, so you can keep it on hand. In looking around online, there are recommendations and recipes for using it on everything from grilled meats to popcorn.
I decided to use the za’atar (or zahatar or zaatar) to make roast chicken. I also roasted broccoli, cauliflower and onions with the za’atar, this might be a way to get the kids to eat their vegetables. It made for a delicious and healthy dinner. No matter how you spell it, za’atar is now a permanent part of my spice collection.
INGREDIENTS FOR ZA’ATAR
Adapted from Bon Appetit
- 1 tbsp ground sumac
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- Lots of fresh ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients in a container and shake it up. You can store any leftover za’atar in an air-tight container at room temperature with your other spices. I should note that there are many variations of za’atar. Some use fresh thyme, some use fresh oregano, some use dried herbs as I did here. Some recipes call for toasted sesame seeds and some not toasted. What they all seem to have in common is ground sumac. Start your search today. I found it at The Larder in Doylestown, PA. You can also find packaged za’atar in specialty food stores.
INGREDIENTS FOR ZA’ATAR ROASTED BROCCOLI, CAULIFLOWER & ONIONS (Serves about 6)
- 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into wedges
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into wedges
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges and separated
- Heavy drizzle olive oil
- 2 tbsp Za’atar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the vegetables in wedges… almost like little trees. I like to keep a nice amount of the stems on, they’re just as delicious as the tops. Lay the broccoli, cauliflower and onions on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the za’atar . Using your hands, toss the whole thing together to make sure it is evenly coated with the oil and spices. Roast in the preheated oven for about 20min or until the veggies are browned on the edges and tender.
INGREDIENTS FOR ZA’ATAR ROASTED CHICKEN (Serves 4-6)
- 1 whole chicken, cut in half
- 1 lemon, zested and then sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp za’atar
- About 1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the backbone from the chicken and cut it in half… or you can have your butcher do it for you. Chop the garlic and lemon zest together. Carefully run your fingers under the skin of the chicken and put the lemon zest and garlic mixture under the skin. Rub the outside of the chicken with a little olive oil and sprinkle the za’atar all over the chicken, rubbing a little under the skin.
Lay the lemon slices on the bottom of a sheet pan and place the seasoned chicken on top of the lemons. Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees. Enjoy!
SOME OTHER DELICIOUS USES FOR ZA’ATAR
Here are a few other great looking recipes that use za’atar.