Make Ahead

Inspired by Za'atar Dip

August 22, 2010
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Author Notes

Faced with two bunches of thyme and one barely used package of rosemary, I wondered what kind of culinary feat I could pull of using a good amount of each. Compound butters came to mind as did pestos but I wanted to go further east geographically in my recipe. Za'atar which is a Middle Eastern mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, dried sumac berries, and salt came to mind (after I did a bit of research) since I already had the bevy of herbs to play with. Sumac berries are hard to come by when on Fire Island so I substituted the zest of two oranges and couldn't help myself adding a bit of cumin. Not having the energy or desire to quickly dry my herbs in the microwave, I tossed them into my mortar and pestle with the rest of the ingredients and started grinding away. The end result was nutty, sharp, smoky, and salty. Swirled into sour cream and yogurt it makes a heavenly dip or spread from chips to kebabs. —testkitchenette

  • Makes 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stripped from stem
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt, more to taste
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup yogurt or sour cream
In This Recipe
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mortar and pestle until thoroughly mixed and fragrant. Alternatively, pulse in a mini food might make a paste but that's OK.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon at a time to yogurt or sour cream, tasting as you go. Add salt if necessary. Use as a dip for vegetables, pita chips, falafel, grilled meats, or as I do sometime...right off the spoon.
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