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A Spice Blend with Ancient Roots

Becky Johnson

za'atar on pitaZa’atar is a blend of oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds and ground sumac.  It is used as a condiment in Middle Eastern cooking and use of this blend dates back to ancient times in Egypt. Za'atar is traditionally eaten with pita (manakish).  The bread is drizzled or dipped into extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkled liberally with za'atar.

Za'atar can also be added to hummus, bread dough or used as a filling for baked items.  It is also delicious when used on roasted vegetables, sprinkled on salads and also can be steeped to make tea.

The sumac that is used in this spice blend is not the toxic, pesky, white-berried plant that one would find in a bog or wooded area.  Culinary sumac is produced from tangy dark red berries from a plant that is native to the dry desert of the Middle East. 

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