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Cooking with za’atar: 6 Ottolenghi recipes to try now

by Alice Palmer Brown

published on 30 March 2022

Along with the likes of tahini, harissa and sumac, za’atar is one of the first ingredients that comes to mind when we think of Ottolenghi. This complex, aromatic staple of Middle Eastern cooking is a blend of dried thyme (za’atar), sumac, sesame seeds and salt and has the power to transform a meal with just one pinch. From pasta to salads, meat to seafood, flatbreads to braised eggs, Ottolenghi and his Test Kitchen team add za’atar to all manner of dishes to bring a herbaceous vibrancy and add layers of flavour.

Whether you’re already well versed in the transformative potential of a good sprinkling of za’atar or are keen to try it for the first time, Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are full of ideas. Read on to be inspired by six of our favourite recipes.

Za'atar Salmon and Tahini

The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Za’atar Salmon and Tahini

by The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team

Fragrant za’atar pairs beautifully with oily fish like salmon, as this recipe from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen demonstrates. Salmon fillets are coated in a za’atar and sumac crust and served with a nutty tahini sauce, for an easy salmon supper with plenty of flavour.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad

Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar

Braised Eggs with Leek and Za’atar

from Simple

Equally as fulfilling as a light supper dish as it is a classic brunch, these braised eggs are perfectly complemented by buttery leeks and salty za’atar. What’s more, the bulk of this dish can be made up to a day in advance – perfect if you’re hosting.

Za'atar cacio e pepe

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Za’atar Cacio e Pepe

from Flavour

Cacio e pepe but make it Ottolenghi. Co-authors Yotam and Ixta take this classic Roman pasta dish and add, in their own words, ‘a layer of delicious herbiness’. There is a technique for getting the texture of your cacio e pepe just right and they expertly show you how.

Ottolenghi Roast Chicken and Sumac and Zaatar Scaled

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Lemon

Level up your roast chicken with this super simple, herby traybake from Yotam’s first cookbook.

Buttermilk Aubergines

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce

from Plenty

A feast for the eyes as much as the tastebuds, these pomegranate-studded aubergines with buttermilk sauce are finished with a dusting of za’atar. The perfect centrepiece of a vegetarian feast.

The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s M.E. Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Za’atar Pesto

by Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad

There’s mac ‘n’ cheese and then there’s the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen mac ‘n’ cheese. With two different types of cheese, plenty of aromatic spices and a crispy onion topping, there’s plenty to write home about here but it’s the verdant za’atar pesto dotted over the mac that really steals the show.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad

Struggling to get your hands on authentic za’atar? You can purchase an Ottolenghi-approved jar of za’atar sourced from Palestine directly from his online shop.

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