This Middle Eastern spice blend is as ubiquitous in that part of the world as our salt shaker is here, but far healthier. Every country in the Middle East, and even region within each country, has its own proportions of the ingredients. My twist is using black lime in place of the traditional sumac, which isn’t—yet—in everyone’s pantry. (You can leave out the salt if you need to for health reasons.) Za’atar is amazing when sprinkled over olive oil on focaccia or flat bread before baking…or when reheating bread from your favorite bakery.
- 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sumac or black lime
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Toast the sesame seeds in a small pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, watching closely so that they don’t burn. Turn off the heat and let them cool. Using a small food processor or a coffee bean grinder (you may need to work in batches), pulse the sesame seeds along with the other spices until they’re mixed, but stop well before they turn into a powder—there should be some texture to the blend. You can also do this by hand with a mortar and pestle.
Yields about 1/2 cup.