The splce blend za'atar is used for fattoush salad
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 52: Za’atar is the star of a Lebanese salad

Fattoush Salad with Pita Chips

Chinese five spice. Lebanese seven spice. India’s garam masala. Chili powder. North American pickling spices.

Heck, the Colonel even had his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices to pep up chicken served in a bucket.

So far, my 100-day journey through the kitchen cupboards has incorporated a few of these blends — chili powder is practically a menu regular, we easily pulled together a Turkish spice mix for kofte meatballs, and we used the warmth of garam masala to finish off a curried chicken/tomato casserole.

It was with much curiosity that I received a gift of Za’atar from Gay, a fellow Friday night curler who loves sharing recipe ideas. (Isn’t it great? As my castoff supplies are getting low, contributions are rolling in from other kitchens.)

Za’atar is a sumac-heavy Middle Eastern spice mix which also includes thyme, oregano, marjoram and sesame seeds. Gay bought it to make the Lebanese salad fattoush. You only need a little za’atar to make the salad. And as Gay wryly noted in handing over the jar, you can only eat so much fattoush.

Delicious as it is, that is true.

I’ve had fattoush a few times while I was doing some work in Windsor; the Windsor Star newsroom was located next to a stellar Lebanese restaurant called Mazaar. The salad’s ingredients and freshness are typical of a Greek salad, but has an unusual earthy-sour-lemon taste. That’s the za’atar.

We used our donated za’atar to make fattoush salad with pita chips, using this recipe from a blog called The Gouda Life, but other uses might be to make easy yogurt-based dips, adding to meatloaf or meatballs, or just sprinkling on eggs.

Kitchen Castoff used

Za’atar, donated to the project

Fattoush, a Lebanese salad incorporates herbs as the greens and the sour-lemony taste of za'atar.
Fattoush, a Lebanese salad, incorporates herbs as the greens and the sour-lemony taste of za’atar.

This is how we did it

Ingredients and method

For the salad:

  • 2 red peppers, cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 cucumbers, with all or some skin still on, cut into bite size chunks
  • 3 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, rough chopped
  • 1 cup mint, rough chopped
  • 4 tbsp za’atar

Combine everything in a large serving bowl. The herbs make up the salad greens, so don’t shy away from using the full amounts.

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp agave nectar or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together.

For the pita chips:

  • 3 or 4 Lebanese style pitas, torn or cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush chips with olive oil, sprinkle with za’atar and bake for about 10 minutes.

When you are ready to eat, combine the salad ingredients with about half the dressing, then continue adding dressing until you are happy with the taste and texture. Crumble pita chips on top of the salad.

Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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