Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Za'atar Baked Potatoes/Fries Recipe!

From all of my posts, no single one has gotten so many questions as when I posted a photo on Facebook of za'atar fries and then a photo on my blog of re-creating those fries a la baked potatoes. The most requested recipe I have to this day is also the easiest, but I shall blog about it anyway!

Za'atar is an amazing herb mix and generally has four key ingredients: thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. There are lots of variations of course depending on where it's from, and just as is the case with anything else there are options that have so many added ingredients as well. I find that I enjoy Jordanian and Syrian za'atar the most so far, and one Syrian-Armenian family in Yerevan has my absolute favourite.
At Arz Bakery in Canada, but their za'atar ain't what it used to be :(
While you can use it to make delicious meneyish, I fall into the category of people who put it on everything--and I have been known to eat it straight from the bag with a spoon until I choke.
Restaurant & homemade options
So when I was at a Lebanese restaurant in the U.S. recently that had "za'atar fries" as an option on the menu, you can bet your boots I told the waiter "you had me at za'atar." While nothing else (even the super attractive looking hmoz) was noteworthy, the za'atar fries were absolutely incredible. My brain mentally noted it in its "favourites" section and I knew I would have to recreate it.
I decided to try it out with baked potatoes and the only real tip I can offer here since most people know how to make oven potatoes/fries, is to keep the heat medium and cook longer VS high heat for a shorter amount of time. This will ensure the za'atar itself does not burn. This was our (my mom and I) first try:
So simple, and so delicious, and baked of course is healthier than fried and I was happy it didn't mean a compromise on taste. DIRECTIONS: This recipe just meant chopping up some potatoes into thick pieces, drizzling some oil on them (we used about 2 tablespoons of jalapeno-infused oil and it was delicious but you can use regular oil and just add hot pepper for a kick), sprinkling generous amounts of za'atar powder on top (this was a Lebanese mix), mixing it all up with your hands or a spoon, and baking the potatoes at 400F, for about 35-40 minutes. You can sprinkle more za'atar on them right when they come out of the oven.

You can add a nice and simple tahini dip to complement the seasoned potatoes as well (next recipe?). My mom's friends were so impressed by this simple dish, they made it the next time we saw them, which was delicious and closer to the restaurant's version:
So there you have it! Another way to make za'atar the focal point of your life--enjoy!

Pro tip: Make sure to chew your sesame seeds thoroughly to properly digest them and get in all of the benefits. Sesame seeds are a great indicator of whether or not you are not chewing your food long enough--ask me how to check ;)

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