While chatting about food, my favourite subject, I was asked about the different ways to use Zaatar. It made me think back to the first time I tried this amazing ingredient that I feel I have been eating all my life but, in reality, was only about 20 years ago.
This was with bread and remains my favourite way. From chunks of crusty baguette to warm and soft flatbreads dipped in Olive oil that has been mixed with a generous quantity of zaatar. Yes, definitely my favourite way!
While there is no denying that Zaatar and bread are a match made in heaven, for me, the more vital pairing is with Olive Oil. Fruity, green and herby extra virgin olive oil not only helps to moisten the zaatar but it highlights the herby and lemony flavour of it and brings a mellow deliciousness to it all.
However, there are many more ways to use this amazing ingredient, and here are a few suggestions that you may enjoy trying.
Sprinkle Zaatar over hummus and finish with a slick of extra virgin Olive Oil. Wonderful way to jazz up even the most mediocre of shop-bought hummus.
Mash Avocado and season simply with crunchy sea salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle a tbsp or 2 of zaatar over this. Drizzle over a little Olive Oil and garnish with some pomegranate seeds. Eat with oatcakes or crackers. This was my regular breakfast when I was teaching and evokes such lovely memories of eating this in a quiet classroom during first break.
Slice some ripe tomatoes and crumble salty feta over them. Finish with a sprinkle of zaatar, sea salt and the obligatory drizzle of Olive Oil. Heaven!
Toss some Biancoli (sweet stemmed cauliflower) in a little Oil. Roast for about 20 minutes or until the Biancoli starts browning at the edges. Sprinkle over some Zaatar and sea salt flakes as soon as you take it out of the oven. This method is also delicious with roasted Carrots or even crispy oven baked Kale.
Zaatar also complements chicken and lamb so next time you are roasting try zaatar as a seasoning. Just remember to mix it with oil.
Zaatar can go dusty and musty if stored for too long so buy small quantities and resist the temptation to ‘stock-up’. Fresh Zaatar should be green and fluffy and definitely not resemble sawdust.
I hope you enjoy some of these easy ways to use Zaatar as much as I do; it really is a wonderful ingredient.
If you want to learn more about Zaatar and middle eastern cooking, please feel free to get in touch or attend one of our middle eastern mezze classes running at the studio when we are able to reopen.