Friday, February 8, 2008

Za'atar Everything!

When I saw Elly Says Opa's Za'atar Chicken, I was excited to be able to incorporate some thyme and sumac, two spices that I rarely use, in a meal. I opted to make the full za'atar recipe, rather than Elly's quartered version of the recipe.

Za'atar Spice

1/2 cup excellent-quality mediterranean savory or thyme (I don't know that mine is "excellent quality")

1/4 cup sumac

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (don't have sea salt - went with kosher salt instead)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Grind the savory, sumac, salt and sesame seed in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder until you obtain a fine powder.

First, I tried using a mortar and pestal:

Not such a great idea...

Next, I realized that I essentially had a spice grinder and used it:

...and it worked:

Keep in a sealed jar in a cool, dark and dry place. Za'atar will begin to lose its flavour after 2 months.

Now, since this makes about 3/4 of a cup of za'atar, I decided to use it in three different ways.


4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used breasts - may not be as juicy as thighs?)
1 lemon, juiced
1 heaping Tbsp. za'atar
salt and pepper (optional - I didn't include this)

Mix lemon juice with za'atar mix.

Rub the mixture onto the chicken thighs and refrigerate for half an hour. Preheat the broiler and spray the broiler pan with some cooking spray.

Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper if desired. Broil for approximately 6 minutes per side, or until done (I kept the chicken breasts in the oven for about 20 minutes at around 375...I rarely cook boneless chicken breasts in the oven this way, so I may have kept it in for too long).

For the next two recipes, I googled za'atar and found these recipes.


Za'atar Pita Crisps

Think of this more as a method than a strict recipe. Use any bread and brush with za'atar oil to taste.

Three large (9-inch) pita pockets, preferably whole wheat (I used two pita pockets)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup za'atar (I used 1/8 cup)

Using scissors or knife, carefully split each pita horizontally into two thin rounds.

In bowl, stir together oil and za'atar.

Using pastry brush, brush rough/inside sides of pita halves with oil-za'atar blend. Using knife, cut each round into 8 wedges (I cut it into 4 wedges, just to be a rebel).

Arrange wedges, oiled sides up, on 2 large baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of preheated 350F oven 8 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool completely on rack. Serve immediately or store in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.


Za'atar Salad

Za'atar gives a Greek-style salad a flavour lift.

1 cup kalamata olives, halved lengthwise, pitted

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 tbsp lemon juice

NOTE: I don't like olives, so excluded them from the recipe all together

1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced in half moons

1 pint package grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups -- I used plum tomatoes)

7 oz (200 g) feta, crumbled

3 tbsp za'atar (I used about two tbsp)

2 romaine hearts, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used less)

For olives, stir together olives, oil, garlic, oregano, lemon zest, pepper and salt in airtight container. Refrigerate, covered, at least 8 hours (didn't was still good). Bring to room temperature before using. Add lemon juice. Stir in lemon juice. (I just added everything at the same time)

For salad, in large serving bowl, combine olive mixture, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and za'atar. Toss well. Add romaine. Toss well.

All together -- here's the final products:



Anonymous said...

I LOVE this post! I buy a HUGE container of Za'atar every year at my local middle eastern market and I go through that stuff like water. It's nice to see it's catching on!

Anonymous said...

Ocean's Flavor sea salt is the best!!

PG said...

katie - thanks. I'm just learning about za'atar now. If you have any other good recipes for it, I'd love to see them.

anon - ok - if the thought strikes me while shopping, I'll take a look at it. At this point, I'm a bit limited on cupboard space.

Elly said...

yum, i love it! :) for chicken breasts, i like to marinate them in the lemon juice/zaatar and a little olive oil and then grill them. so good. the salad looks especially great!

PG said...

elly - glad you found the post. I tried to post on your blog to let you know I used your recipe, but had problems with Vox. Thanks for the great recipe!

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