Arabic Zaatar Dishes & Snacks
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All photos by Nicky Garratt copyright 1999


Roasted Red Pepper
"A smart thing to do when you fire up the barbecue is to plan for a number of dishes for the whole week or longer. I roast eggplants for Baba Ghannouj and North Indian Smoked Eggplant, Acorn Squash for Moroccan soup, corn to eat immediately and red peppers for salads." 

Start off with squash, onions, parsnips, potatoes and any other vegetables that take time to cook through, follow it with the eggplants and last of all, when the heat is even, add corn and peppers.
Turn the peppers over the coals until they are completely blackened with no patches of red showing, but do not let them burn through. After they cool a little rinse under cold water easing off the blackened skin. Remove the stalk and seeds and cut the roasted peppers into strips. They are now ready for adding to salads or an olive/pickle bowl. You can refrigerate for a few days.

"My friend Ramsey (From AK Press), ushered me up to his office to show me a green herb mixture which, at risk of life & limb, he smuggled out of Lebanon ratherLebanonthum.JPG (25528 bytes) like a drug dealer. "You can only get this in the Lebanon" he claimed carefully measuring out a small portion from the small white cotton draw string bag with mysterious Arabic writing on the side. The mixture was Zaatar. Subsequently, I have located this herb at a number of stores in the bay area at a very reasonable price, much to Ramsey's dismay. I even rubbed salt in his wound by giving him some back in fake Safeway packaging. After some research, I found that in Arabic Zaatar means Thyme. However, this mixture is powdered thyme, whole sesame seeds and sumac (a powder made from ground sour berries). In Lebanon it is mixed with olive oil and eaten with pita bread, but I found a couple of recipes in an old Lebanese cook book."

Onion Zaatar

  • 1 large Onion cut into fine half rings and mixed with a half teaspoon of salt.
  • 3 T. of Zaatar 

Toss with 3 Tablespoons of Zaatar and 3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and eat with pita bread. For  non-Vegans, Zaatar can be simply sprinkled on crumbled Feta Cheese, and I found it also makes an excellent salad dressing when mixed with Olive Oil. The Sumac in the Zaatar cuts the oil instead of lemon juice.

Zaatar Bread
"This hearty, filling bread is eaten at breakfast in Lebanon" 

  • Basic pie mixture.
  • 5 T. of Zaatar 
  • 5 T. of extra virgin olive oil

Roll out basic pie mixture to form flat oval loaves around 3/4 of an inch thick and let stand covered with a cloth for half an hour. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Make a paste with the Zaatar and oil and lightly coat the top of each loaf before baking for around ten minutes.

Zaatar Dip
"The quickest snack dip I know"

  • 4 T Zaatar
  • 6 T. of extra virgin olive

Mix to form paste eat as dip with pita bread