The Middle-Eastern spice blend called za’atar is an important ingredient in the Tomato, Chickpea, and Feta recipe found in Fine Cooking #112. There are many styles of za’atar (any of which will work in this recipe), but all share the common ingredients of sesame seeds, ground sumac, and dried za’atar (an herb with a savory-thyme-oregano flavor). You can buy za’atar blends in Middle-Eastern markets, but you can also make it at home. In the blend shown above, thyme and oregano or marjoram stand in for the za’atar herb, which is rarely available in the United States.
To make about 1/2 cup of za’atar, put 3 Tbs. dried thyme, 1 Tbs. lightly toasted sesame seeds, 1 Tbs. ground sumac, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt in a spice grinder. Pulse a few times to mix and break up some of the seeds—there should still be many whole seeds visible. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
If sumac is unavailable, substitute 2 Tbs. dried lemon peel.