Ever since discovering Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, particularly Jerusalem and Plenty More, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Middle Eastern flavors. I love desserts with dates, cardamom, pistachios, or rosewater. I enjoy using tahini, pomegranate seeds, and tons of fresh herbs in everyday cooking. My favorite thing about Middle Eastern cuisines, though, is the incredible use of spices – particularly za’atar!
Za’atar, a staple of Levantine (ie Palestinian, Israeli, Turkish, etc.) cuisine, is a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, dried sumac, salt, and a variety of dried herbs. It’s absolutely delicious and tastes great on many savory dishes, including vegetables, meat, hummus, and pita bread. Using za’atar is an easy way to make simple food feel special, which is why I love this za’atar roasted vegetable recipe.
It’s easy enough to throw together in 30 minutes with almost no effort, but it’s also tangy, satisfying, and delicious. These vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to any Middle Eastern meal or plain protein, like chicken or steak. You can also just eat them straight off the pan, as I might have done. Hopefully, this recipe will convert you into a za’atar fanatic – you’ll be in good company!
Za’atar Roasted Vegetables
- 1 head cauliflower cut into small florets
- 2 small zucchini cut into small pieces
- 1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes sliced
- 1 eggplant cut into small pieces (see instructions)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp za’atar
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- A dash of lemon juice (1-2 tsp)
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Optional: when you cut the vegetables, cut the eggplant first and put in a large bowl along with a generous sprinkle of salt. This will help draw out liquid and make the eggplant less bitter. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the rest of the vegetables to the bowl with the eggplant. Sprinkle the spices over the vegetables.
- Add the olive oil and toss until the vegetables are well-coated with oil and spices. Pour them evenly onto two baking trays.
- Roast for 10 minutes, then stir with a spatula. Roast another 10 minutes.
- Taste and add salt as necessary, as well as a dash of lemon juice. Stir well and serve hot.