Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of herbs and sesame seeds that is most commonly blended with olive oil and spread on pita dough, then baked in a hot oven. This perfect little crispy, savoury treat is a breakfast favourite. Aromatic with oregano, thyme, summer savoury and sesame seeds, it’s the perfect wake-me-up.
It also has the tart, almost lemony flavoured sumac. While I can forage for this spice in certain parts of a nearby river valley, I look for other options. And in the winter months, I tend to add lemon, either the zest, juice or both, depending on the situation.
Today, with a roasted eggplant dip, I wanted the full brightness of a freshly squeezed lemon to not only add flavour, but the smooth out the purée along with a cold pressed oil.
Combining a za’atar blend with an eggplant dip makes for a super punchy dip to enjoy with fresh veggies or some crisp flatbread chips. Since most of the work is done by your oven, it’s a largely hands off dish to prepare as well. Super easy for any night of the week!
Za’atar Eggplant Dip:
For the Za’atar Spice Blend:
1 tsp, each, dried summer savoury, dried oregano, dried thyme, toasted flax seeds
1/2 tsp salt
For the Dip:
300g/12 oz eggplant
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 Tbsp cold pressed camelina oil (or any cold pressed/extra virgin oil)
Preheat oven to 210C/425F. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
For the Za’atar Spice, combine the herbs, flax seeds and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add the eggplant to the prepared baking pan. Roast on the lower rack for about 45 minutes or until very soft. Peel away the skin and remove the stem, discarding both. Add the roasted flesh to a blender with the lemon juice and oil. Purée until mostly smooth. Add the Za’atar Spice Blend and pulse the blender a few times to combine. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least a few hours for the flavours to marry together. Allowing it to sit overnight is even better, but a few hours is okay. Serves 2 as a starter, snack with fresh veggies and flatbread chips. It also makes a great sandwich spread instead of mayo.