Open this little packet of Home Cook’s Pantry Za’atar and get ready for a huge fragrant explosion of deliciousness! Sumac, sesame seeds and other herbs make this a terrific combination to use on ANYTHING.
Combine it with some olive oil and dip a piece of good bread into it and I guarantee, you’ll be hooked.
For the most part, I like to use fresh herbs in my cooking. But some flavors you just can’t get fresh, like sumac. And when you can get a dried spice mix that’s carefully blended and super fresh, well, let me tell you, it’s nothing like the McCormick supermarket dried spices.
Use this za’atar on vegetables, meats, chicken or fish. I particularly loved it in this warm butternut squash dip – both in the dip and sprinkled on top to finish it. This is a great dip to serve for holiday entertaining. It’s different, totally delicious and even healthy!
There are different spice blends that fall under the name za’atar, a typical Middle Eastern staple in cooking. They can be predominantly green or red in color. Recipes for such spice mixtures were often kept secret, and not even shared with daughters and other relatives. Can you imagine? This za’atar contains pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, sesame seeds, ground sumac and thyme.
Home Cook’s Pantry buys fresh whole spices and grinds them when you order. They stock over 90 unique spices to make their blends. Each mix has a shelf life of one year and they never use MSG, artificial coloring, or anti-caking agents in any of their seasoning blends.
They can also customize your blend – more heat, less sweet, omit for allergens – whatever your needs, they can accommodate. They are really special!
On to the recipe:
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND RED ONION DIP WITH HOME COOK’S PANTRY ZA’ATAR – serves 8 – 10
1 large butternut squash (2 1/4 lb. in total), cut in half lengthwise with seeds scraped out
2 medium red onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch wedges
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
3 1/2 Tbs. light tahini paste
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Maldon sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Home Cook’s Pantry za’atar, plus more to sprinkle on top
3 1/2 Tbs. walnuts
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub the cut sides of the squash with ½ Tbs. of olive oil and fill a baking dish with ¼” of water. Place squash cut side down in the water. Meanwhile in another baking dish, toss the red onion with 2 Tbs. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place both pans in the oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until the onions have taken on some color and are tender. Remove the onions and leave to cool. Turn the squash right side up and roast for 10 – 15 more minutes until it is very tender when pierced with a fork.
When squash is done, remove from the oven to cool. When squash is cool enough to handle, scrap the squash from the skin and place in a food processor along with the onions and all of the juices from the onion pan. Add 1 Tbs. of olive oil and the other ingredients, except for the walnuts and parsley.
Process this mixture into a smooth puree.
Pour the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.
To serve, spread the warm dip out in a low shallow bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts and their oil on top, followed by more za’atar and parsley.
Serve with baked pita chips and a variety of dipping vegetables – celery, carrot and fennel strips are nice along with breakfast radishes.
This is a super healthy appetizer recipe to have on hand in the midst of all of the rich food of the season. Make and serve with LOVE!