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thyme spice

Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski

Zaatar, which translates as “thyme,” is a signature Lebanese spice that has been used for centuries. During my trip to Lebanon, I vividly remember my Aunt Antoinette toasting the sesame seeds in my grandmother’s outdoor oven for a fresh batch of zaatar. Every time I make zaatar, I’m reminded of that amazing, aromatic memory, and my mother’s stories of harvesting wild thyme as a child in Lebanon. This super simple spice mix is used in so many of my recipes, from topping Manoush b Zaatar pies (thyme-topped breakfast flatbread) to sprinkling over Labneh (strained Lebanese yogurt), and on my Shanklish yogurt cheese balls with olive oil and spices.

Zaatar can vary widely from region to region, and mine is a traditional old-world Lebanese version that you’ll be putting in everything from salad dressing to meat marinades.



1 cup dried wild thyme or Greek oregano

1⁄4 cup sumac spice

1⁄2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted until golden brown

1 1⁄2 teaspoons sea salt

In a mortar and pestle (in Lebanese we call it a jidan), a spice grinder, or a food processor combine the dried wild thyme or Greek oregano with the sumac spice and finely grind. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the lightly toasted sesame seeds and sea salt and mix thoroughly so that all of the herbs and spices come together and are intermingled with one another. For optimal freshness, always store spices in a cool, dry, dark area.

TABOULIE TIP! For best results, be sure to add in the toasted sesame seeds while they are still hot so that the oil coats the herbs to bring out the fullest flavor, and also helps this mixture to blend beautifully together!

Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.



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