recipes with za’atar

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Za’atar Roasted Kabocha Squash with Silan

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

{Funny Story} So, when I was growing up, my mom always used to make roasted kabocha squash for Shabbat, except she always called it kaboochie squash. She would send me to the store with a list, and whenever I would ask the guy in the produce department for kaboochie squash, he had no idea what I was talking about! And neither did anyone else in the store. Go figure.

Well this right here ^^^ is what “kaboochie” squash looks like. And once I made my mom show it to me the knobby weird shaped pumpkin, I never had to ask it for again. {Phew.}

Fast forward a number of years (I don’t want to date myself or anything), I was newly married and cooking for Shabbat. I wanted to make the delicious squash my mom had always made growing up, so I googled it, and found that it was actually called kabocha squash. Sorry mom.

It turns out that kabocha squash is actually a Japanese pumpkin, and the stuff is goooood. It’s literally my most favorite squash of all the knobby little things out there. Lucky for me, it’s also the hardest to cut.

Its’ so hard to cut, in fact, that Levana Kirschenbaum, Wholefoods chef par excellence, actually has a picture of herself cutting one open with a hammer in her cookbook! I don’t use a hammer in my kitchen, but here is what I do: First I remove the stem at the top and then I cut it in half vertically. I scoop out the seeds and place it flesh-side-down on my cutting board. Then, following the curve of the squash, I cut it into wedges. Voila!

Now my mom used to cook the kabocha up with a drizzle of oil and lots of brown sugar, and it was deeelish. But I wanted to bring out the savoriness of this squash, so I roasted it up with my favorite spice – za’atar. I coated it all with some sweet sticky silan, for a hint of sweetness, and finished it with an extra sprinkling of sesame seeds. You can garnish it as I did with pomegranate seeds and parsley, or just serve it up as-is for a sweet and savory bite!

Once you familiarize yourself with this awesome squash, feel free to use it in roasted pumpkin soup, my kale and kabocha salad with pears and pecans, or in recipes that call for boring old butternut squash. The flavor and texture of kabocha is by far superior, you’ll never turn back!

Related Recipes:

wilted kale & kabocha squash salad
savory butternut squash fries
za’atar roasted chickpeas
silan roasted figs

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Harissa Whipped Feta w/ Za’atar Eggplant Chips

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

I recently did a spice roundup of some of my favorite spices and seasoning blends on Instagram. I love cooking with spices because I can pack on the flavor without piling on the extra sugar and additives that are found in sauces and marinades. Spices keep things clean and healthy, without sacrificing on flavor.

If I had to choose a favorite spice, it would probably have to be za’atar. Za’atar is a spice blend that is native to the Middle East. It includes sumac, oregano, thyme and sesame seeds – a bright combination that’s great with just about everything. I love it on pita chips, chickpeas, chicken, fish, eggplant, cauliflower…like I said, everything!

Another one of my favorite spice blends is harissa. Harissa is a North African chili paste that adds amazing depth of flavor to fish, meat, poultry, veggies and sauces. I love to mix it into my shakshuka, tahini, Moroccan fish, sour cream and even nacho cheese! There’s a reason that Time Magazine called harissa the “new sriracha” of 2015. And as a MAJOR sriracha fan, let me assure you that it’s quite the compliment!

The crazy thing about za’atar and harissa is that, while they are both good on their own, they are amazing together! I never realized just how well these spices complemented each other until I developed this recipe. And I. am. obsessed!!

So first, the chips, because I am a chip fanatic. I love that these eggplant chips are baked and not fried – but they are still perfectly crispy. The za’atar adds such an amazing unexpected punch of flavor to the breading that you can literally go through an entire tray in one sitting.

And the feta? Oh. Em. Gee. If you’ve never whipped feta before then GET ON IT! Most people don’t think of feta as a creamy cheese, but when you whiz this stuff up with a little Greek yogurt – it’s like a silky smooth dip that’s perfectly salty. Dunk those za’atar chips in and it’s a full on an explosion in your mouth.

What are some of your favorite spices and seasonings? Share them with me in the comments below!

Related Recipes:

za’atar roasted chickpeas
malawach cheese pastries with za’atar
confetti latkes with harissa sour cream
cauliflower nachos with harissa cheddar sauce

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