This unique blend of spice, herbs and oil is called za’atar. If you’ve found yourself in a Mediterranean restaurant, or perhaps you’ve tried fancier-than-streetcart-style falafel, you may have encountered it. Although it shares some of its ingredients with tahini, its grainy texture and the freshness of the herbs make it an entirely different addition to a meal.
Homemade Za’atar [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 1/2 extra-virginirgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Toss in your sesame seeds and toast for 2-3 minutes until they start to crackle. Shake the skillet a few times every 30 seconds or so to prevent the seeds from burning. You'll see them turn from light brown to toasted brown and they'll become a little more fragrant as their oils are released.
- Once toasted, remove from heat and transfer to a food processor. (If they continue to sit in the pan, they'll continue to cook and you'll end up with burnt-tasting sesame.)
- Portion out your other ingredients and combine in the food processor. Blend for 15-20 seconds until evenly combined, scraping down the sides as needed. You're aiming for half-blended half-whole sesame seeds: you should see a fair number of whole seeds remaining in your mixture.
Transfer to a dish for serving, or a glass jar/ bottle for storage for up to 2 weeks.