May 9, 2014

Za'atar in spice jars







I hoard spices. I do. Every so often, I set out to make spice mixes. Recently, I picked up Bryant Terry's new cookbook: Afro-Vegan. The cookbook is awesome. I've already bookmarked many recipes. This is an example of one of six dry spice blends featured in the book. Earlier this week, I took out my big box of spices and set out to make za'atar and blackened seasoning. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, oregano, and sumac. The sumac gives it tang. Terry's book is loaded with many song recommendations; they accompany the title on each page. After reading through Afro-Vegan,  I went and found the playlist on Spotify. Then, I hit play, and got to work. 

With Mother's Day coming up, I thought this would make a nice gift for mom (or a great Father's Day gift, or really - any occasion). I repurposed some old spice jars, and used a stamp and paper to make labels. The labels are just strips of nicer paper cut to about 1.75" (4.5 cm) wide by 5.5" (14 cm) long. I hoard stamps too, and liked this "Destination" stamp as a label for the contents and the date. I wrote the ingredients on the side. Once the labels are ready, I affixed the labels to the jar with clear packaging tape. 

I like to use za'atar on pita bread. Coat the pita bread with a bit of olive oil and salt. Sprinkle on the za'atar and toast until just barely crispy. In high school, I used to baby sit and tutor for a Lebanese family. They always served me this in the mornings. I can still remember getting a steamy thick small coffee and pita bread with za'atar. In the past, I've used za'atar in spinach veggie burgers, on roasted potatoes, over a sunny-side up egg, and for tofu kebab skewers. 

Recipe from Bryant Terry's Afro-Vegan cookbook.
Yield: about 4.5 oz, or enough to fill up 2 spice jars

3 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tbsp sesame seeds (I used a mixture of black and white seeds)
ground black pepper

Toast the cumin and sesame seeds. Once hot add them to a bowl and let them cool off slightly. To the same bowl add all of the herbs and black pepper. Grind them in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight, or refrigerate.  


  1. love, love, love the label. I am not much of a crafty fancy pants but when I see something fun (like this) I am totally convinced to do it.... until I forget about it and then it's just a fantasy. I tried/heard of za'atar for the first time when we were in Turkey, adding it to yogurt for a dip is wonderful as well.