Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zaatar Bread the perfect way to use out-dated herbs!

Dried herbs and spices do have a shelf life.  As much as I want them to last forever and I use a drying method that lengthens their life, eventually you reach the end of useful life.  For most dried and crumbled herbs that is between 12 and 18 months.  For powdered herbs they lose flavor in as short as three months.  Spices as in seeds, barks, or their ground counterparts will last a bit longer.  Ground spices will keep 2 to 3 years, but whole nuts (like nutmeg) or seeds and bark can keep indefinitely, but should be checked.  If it has no scent it will have no flavor left.
I will never forget the time I tossed out all the dried herbs in my mother’s spice rack most of which were older than I was because the spice rack was a wedding gift.  She was furious, but I was adamant, they were not more flavoful than grass clippings!  I suggested refilling the jars with newly mowed grass.  I am still paying for that comment by providing her with herbs to this day. 

If you, like my mother, can't part so easily with your aging herbs, I have a solution for you.  Here is a recipe to use up your about-to-expire green herbs to make tasty Zaatar bread.

A Zaatar Blend is mostly green herbs with ground sumac and toasted sesame seeds added mixed with olive oil and used as a spread for pita or flat bread. The taste is very nutty. This is a feel-good dish to make for others -- you'll use up outdated spices and make enough to share with friends.  You can serve it with tea or dark wine and enjoy it with long conversations around a communal plate.

Recipe for Zaatar Bread
(or any green herbs or spices that are on their last legs)
ground sumac
Toasted sesame seeds, ground
Olive Oil
1 Tbls. lemon peel or zest of one lemon
  1. Grab a cookie sheet, cover it with sesame seeds, toast them in the oven on 350 degrees until lightly brown. 
  2. Grab a medium to large bowl. Dump in all of your dried green herbs and spices that have reached the end of their life cycle. The varied amounts are fine. Just mix them all together. 
  3. Remove seed from oven, cool them, then crush seeds with a pestle in a small bowl.
  4.  Combine with green herbs.
  5.  Add olive oil, enough to create a paste out of the herbs. It shouldn't be dry, but not too thin.
  6.  Sprinkle on a tsp of sumac if you have some on hand.
  7. Add the zest of one lemon to the bowl.
  8. Spread the resulting mixture on pita or flat bread pieces, and bake or broil until heated through (350 degrees for 6 to 9 minutes).
Serve with a good Chai tea and have a great evening with friends or family.

Once you’ve used all your old herbs to make this recipe you can replenish with our fresh from the garden herbs at

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