Za'atar is a blend of aromatic herbs of Middle Eastern origin. Being a mix used since ancient times (traces have been found inside the tomb of Tutankamon, in Egypt, Pliny speaks of it and it seems the Za'atar has played an important role in Jewish purification rituals). There are several variations. The name derives from the family to which they belong the herbs of which it is composed, namely the Lamiaceae. The basic version of Za'atar consists of thyme, sesame and salt. To these, from family to family based on the traditions and places of origin, other ingredients have been added that modify the taste and also the properties, such as marjoram, savory, fennel, cumin, sumac and hyssop. The version I use is made with thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame, sumac and salt, but everyone can feel free to modify it. The aromatics have disinfectant properties for the intestine (savory) and are rich in vitamin C (like marjoram, useful against migraine). Fennel and cumin have digestive and carminative properties, while the sumac (used in the Lebanese version) it is diuretic and has important antioxidant properties. Hyssop is also a diuretic, disinfectant and expectorant (like the thymus) and generates relief in the respiratory system. Finally, sesame is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It can be used to flavor the surface of bread and focaccia, as well as seasoning. Being a rather versatile blend and not too far from the aromas we are used to in Italian cuisine, it can be a fun alternative to give a new look to a pasta tomato sauce, to a bruschetta with fresh tomato or to a pizza, for example.

Recipes with Za'atar

Spicy maccheroni

Spicy maccheroni

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