Tag Archives: za’atar

Hanady’s beautiful book…

I have followed Hanady’s food blog for many years and have loved everything about it, every dish and creation, the flavours, the colours, the stories, the endlessly fabulous inspiration. And now, I’m so excited for Hanady as she has had a book published to celebrate all of this! And which is why you’ll find a quote from me on the back…

Please do check it out, the book is full of flavoursome recipes, but also tips on processes, pantry staples and ingredients. And threaded with Hanady’s love of beautiful food made from the heart, drawing on her heritage and travels.

Visit Hanady’s blog for more details and where to find the book where you are.

Enjoy! And once again, huge congratulations to Hanady for this wonderful achievement xx

Mixed salad with za’atar and tahini…

In this big bowl of joy you’ll find:

Lots of chopped lettuce

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped cucumber

Roasted and cooled cubes of potatoes

Topped with za’atar and drizzles of tahini

Making za’atar…

Za’atar is one of the key flavours from the area of cuisine close to my heart, typical in so many Levantine dishes and homes. You can read more details about za’atar here, but in short: 

Za’atar can refer to wild thyme or dried thyme alone, or to a herb and spice mix in which thyme is king. If you read a recipe that states za’atar being required, it can easily require just thyme, but if you use the whole mix, that will work too! 

I’ve tried many many versions of za’atar, it is typically traditionally a mix of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt, often including oregano and/or marjoram, sometimes including coriander seeds or cumin seeds…it’s one of those things that every home in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, all over the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, will have their own safely guarded version of making. And of course, everyone’s is the best! 

It can be used as a condiment, put on the table next to your salt and pepper, and sprinkled liberally over everything! Or mixed with olive oil to create a dip, or spread over flatbreads to make manaeesh. Or added to sandwiches of feta and salad…the possibilities are endless. 

Za’atar boasts lots of health benefits from its lovely ingredients, and is said to increase your intelligence – what’s not to like?! 

And of course, at this time of year, it could also create a homemade gift 🙂 

I haven’t liked all of the various versions I’ve tried, so it was time to make my own and I read a recipe recently including cumin seeds, and having bought fresh thyme at the market, i made it this weekend. 

So my version includes equal amounts of sesame seeds and cumin seeds, lightly toasted and cooled; a smaller amount of sumac, an even smaller amount of salt, and lots and lots of fresh thyme leave stripped from the stalks. You can chop up the leaves and blend it all in a food processor, but I roughly chopped the thyme by hand and stirred it all together. You can also use dried thyme instead of fresh. 

It smells amazing!!!! 

You can play around with quantities and what you add or don’t, it’s all about your own taste, I’m really happy with this mix and have been throwing it over everything I’ve eaten since! 

This was yesterday’s lunch, grilled aubergines with za’atar. I added the za’atar for the last couple of minutes only and kept an eye on it, otherwise it would burn. I ate these with some freshly made chunky mutabal and muhammara. 

I hope your week is going well 🙂 

Middle Eastern ‘Maneesh’ flatbreads and the joys of za’atar..

IMG_7124Wednesday was the day of my monthly lunch club, there was 8 of us round the table, and this month my menu was:

Sourdough bread
Zaalouk with green peas
Shakshuka
Maneesh
Dips & sauces

It was lovely to share my bread making and wonderful to see them all enjoying it; I was so proud of my loaves I almost couldn’t bear to slice them! I made one white loaf and one 50/50 wholemeal/white loaf and followed Selma’s instructions and proved the dough over 3 days and the flavour was truly enhanced 🙂

IMG_7174I’ll tell you more about the zaalouk and shakshuka in my next post, today I want to tell you about my Maneesh and the wonders of za’atar.

IMG_7159Za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb and spice mix containing thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt; it is usually mixed with olive oil and bread is dipped into it – or just dip a spoon into it and enjoy it like I do!!! In Lebanon they believe that za’atar is brain food so za’atar and olive oil is spread onto ‘Khobez’ flatbreads which are rolled up and eaten for breakfast or as a snack or given to children before school to boost their minds!

Maneesh are thin breads spread with za’atar and olive oil and baked, and are LOVELY!! These are traditional Maneesh, there are now all sorts of versions available of course. I made them this week for my lunch guests and made versions with za’atar only, some with Lebanese akkawi soft cheese, which I bought in the Middle Eastern supermarket last weekend, and some with a bit of both.

IMG_7175Basically, use any dough recipe, add a tablespoon extra of sugar, roll the dough thin, about 3mm thick, spread them with za’atar and bake them for 8-10 minutes; that’s how I made my little ones. You can also make Maneesh the size of a pizza and cut it into slices.

Za’atar is also very tasty stirred through vegetables and roasted, as I did earlier in the week with butternut squash and sweet potato..

IMG_7069

IMG_7070Or of course, stirred into dips..

IMG_7126..this one contains roasted aubergine, yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, za’atar and olive oil.

I hope you like the sound of za’atar and what I’ve done with it recently. I’m bringing these goodies to this week’s Fiesta Friday, now in its second year and thriving! This week we have two brand new co hosts, Sonal and Josette, do come along and join them and everyone else, and marvel at the amazing skill of so many home cooks and food bloggers. One day I will feel worthy of bringing my food to the same table as so much amazing food!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend xx