What do you do when you want some savoury popcorn to munch on but you’ve run out of parmesan? You go digging though your spices for a substitute of course!
So I was riffling through my spices and kept coming back to my jar of Joe’s Stuff, a beautifully spicy Cajun herb mix I picked up during our holiday in New Orleans. But it was a kind of been there, done that reaction (even though I do adore my Joe’s Stuff seasoning!) However, right next to my Joe’s Stuff was my little jar of za’atar.
Za’atar is a fairly new spice mix for me. I first had it a few months ago in a salad at this odd little café that actually kind of smelled like toilet cleaning products… anyhow… the surprisingly tangy spice left an impression, unlike the café, so I googled, found out how to make it at home and have been putting it in and on many dishes since.
Common to the Middle East, za’atar is a spice mix that is primarily made of a mixture of thyme, oregano and savoury, although the spice blend does differ from region to region, and many are known to also use marjoram. Sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt are then added, and there you have it, za’atar!
So, za’atar and popcorn? Why not! If I had chickpeas I would be making the moreish-looking Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas over at Spontaneous Tomato’s blog that I’ve been thinking about for a week now. I don’t have chickpeas; but I do have popcorn!
I wasn’t sure if the amount of thyme in za’atar would be too overpowering for something like popcorn, where there’s nothing else to balance it out, so I did add a bit more sumac and sesame seeds to the mix.
And you know what? I was right… Za’atar is a perfect spice mix to add to a steaming hot bowl of popcorn, when you don’t want sweet popcorn that is.
Ingredients for the Za’atar Spice Mix
- 4 teaspoons dried thyme (or four tablespoons fresh, oven-dried thyme)
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (lightly toasted)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Ingredients for the Popcorn
- 4 cups popped popcorn (pipping hot)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar spice mix
Method for the Za’atar Spice Mix
- Use a mortar and pestle to grind the thyme leaves finely.
- Add the sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt.
Method for the Popcorn
- Drizzle the oil evenly over the hot popcorn and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with the za’atar.
- Toss gently until the spice mix is evenly distributed.
Note 1: This recipe for za’atar is a purely thyme one as I am not that fond of oregano. If anyone is looking to mix up the blend, I would recommend two teaspoons thyme, one teaspoon oregano and one teaspoon marjoram or savoury.
Note 2: Store leftover za’atar in an airtight container.