Pizza inspired by the Middle East with zaatar, tomatoes and feta cheese. Served with a garlic-mint sauce.
By Divya Yadava
When I was growing up in the Middle East, I remember having manaeesh on the weekends for brunch. For those of you who haven’t tried it before, it’s basically dough topped with thyme, cheese and other ingredients before it’s baked to perfection. So it somewhat similar to pizza, but there’s something about the dried thyme that makes manaeesh irresistible. This recipe is my take on pizza inspired by manaeesh. It’s topped with za’atar (Middle Eastern spice blend), tomatoes, feta, crispy shallots and a garlic-mint sauce. It’s a versatile dish that can be served as an appetizer, brunch or a main. Best of all, it doesn’t take long at all – perfect for those last minute guests!
I’ve been inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine and za’atar is the perfect way to start exploring Middle Eastern dishes. It’s a spice blend that contains thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, sesame seeds and other spices. The ingredients in the blend vary from location or location and some households even have their own “secret” blends!
There are a number of ways to use this spice -here are some of my favorities:
- Mix za’atar and extra-virgin olive oil and serve with bread. It’s a great alternative to balsamic vinegar and oil.
- Sprinkle some on a bowl of cottage cheese
- Add to cooked couscous prior to serving to give it a flavour boost
Spice blends such as za’atar can elevate a simple dish to another level without adding extra calories in the form of fat. Another big plus is that za’atar contains herbs that pack a punch when it comes to anti-oxidants.
Originally Published: November 17, 2011