A homemade edible gift is always a thoughtful gesture, whether it's destined for a spot under the Christmas tree or to be toted along to a party as a hostess gift, but it's no secret that most take a fair amount of time and foresight to prepare. Still, that's no reason to abandon the idea entirely. If you're pressed for time, turn to this fast yet festive fix: za'atar spiced nuts. Not only are they a nice reprieve from the onslaught of holiday sweets and decadent treats, but they also can be made (cooling included) in only about an hour, so you can get on with the festivities at hand. Get the easy recipe.
One glimpse of this za'atar-oil-flecked beauty and I knew I had to try it as soon as possible, so off I set to the store with hopes that my search for a packet of za'atar — a Middle Eastern spice blend comprising oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac — wouldn't be found futile. Thankfully, Spicely came to my rescue, no specialty store required; it even came in a conveniently smaller package to boot, a boon to those looking to waste less in the kitchen.
And to answer the burning question: yes, this soup was everything I wished for and more. Well-balanced, velvety smooth, and aesthetically appealing thanks to a swirl of za'atar oil, this tangerine-hued soup is a real winner.
I've sung pureed soup's praises before, and I'll sing them again: few foods are more satisfying, nourishing, and leftovers-friendly while still allowing room for experimentation and intrigue. This Middle Eastern spiced carrot soup is no exception. Creamy without using cream and garnished with all matter of excellent nibbles, it's the sort of soup that is worthy of a light meal in and of itself.
A quick word on the garnishes: I know what you're thinking: four components for one soup . . . isn't that a hair excessive? The short answer is no. Spiced chickpeas, a tahini-lemon dollop, dukkah, and parsley make the soup the lovely dish it is by providing loads of textural and flavor contrast, while adding minimal time and effort to the recipe.
What's perfect for your Super Bowl spread, and yet far from indulgent? These za'atar and cumin-spiced roasted chickpeas. Additionally, they're an excellent garnish for soups and salads, come together with a minimal of effort, are easy to transport, and are just plain delicious.
If this seems like a lot of blustery praise, don't be put off. Even if you find they're not your cup of tea you'll be out a mere few dollars (chickpeas are cheap!) aside from the initial purchase of tangy herbal za'atar and earthy cumin seeds (use extra za'atar in this soothing soup that's swirled with za'atar oil).
Not feeling the Mediterranean flavor profile? Think of this recipe as more of a blueprint than a set in stone prescription — feel free to sub out spice blends as you please, the proportions listed below are intended as a mere jumping off point.
Za'atar can also refer to an herb with notes of savory, thyme, and oregano; however, this herb is rarely exported.