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Global Ingredient: Za'atar

Global Ingredient: Za'atar

This seductive spice mix combines sumac, dried herbs, and toasted sesame seeds. In its native Middle East, it's used as much as common condiments like ketchup or hot sauce are in the States. The sumac lends a distinct citrusy note, while dried thyme and marjoram make it fragrantly herbaceous. Sprinkle on veggies, chicken, or fish before cooking, or stir into tzatziki or hummus. Find it at

25 Recipes for a Mediterranean Diet Feast

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that features foods and dishes commonly found in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Though the specific meals in these countries aren't exactly the same, the ingredients used follow similar guidelines: most foods are plant-based rather than animal-based and the majority of fats are healthy fats such as those found in fish, olives, and nuts.

In general, seafood, poultry, beans, and eggs are more common on the Mediterranean diet menu than red meat and sugar-filled foods. It's a way of eating that speaks to the terrain, culture, and what's available, and what's been around for millennia.

Often, the Mediterranean diet is touted as a healthy way of eating, and it's something many people all over the world have picked up on. Think foods such as olives and olive oil, fresh fish, tomatoes, chicken, cucumber, eggplant, chickpeas, lemon, and garlic. There are no processed foods on the Mediterranean diet, and most ingredients are freshly made and/or sourced locally.

Using all the principles and ideas behind what makes the diet so successful, here are 25 recipes broken down by course to plan the ultimate Mediterranean diet feast. To your health!

What it is:

Zaɺtar is so multifaceted and dynamic because it's a blend of so many different flavors, textures, and fragrances. Even though it varies greatly depending on where you are in the Middle East (specific recipes are sometimes closely-guarded secrets!), zaɺtar is generally a combination of dried oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram (woodsy and floral), with sumac (tangy and acidic) and toasted sesame seeds (nutty and rich). And, as if that weren't enough, zaɺtar sometimes contains salt, dried orange zest, dried dill, or the wild herb zaɺtar (also called hyssop, it grows throughout the Levant and is the mixture's namesake).

Celebrating Culture with Cuisine

Each year we typically see a new global focus on specific regional flavors. With limited travel in 2020, we saw many cultures celebrating their heritage with food. For example, in the U.S. we saw an increase in African American cuisine and businesses as people delve into these tastes, and we expect to see this continue and expand in 2021. We also predict an increase in Latin American foods and flavors like chimichurri, horchata and salsa macha following the global trend for Mexican flavors.

In the Asia-Pacific, we are seeing a localized fusion of specific country flavors that are being adopted into other country’s cuisines for example, Mala, which originated in Sichuan China. “Mala” is composed of the Chinese characters ‘numbing’ and ‘spicy.’ Mala cuisine became popular in China and other countries in Asia, and as a number of Asian cuisines now incorporate the pungent spice, it is now spreading throughout the rest of Asia in the form of snacks and instant noodles.


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Harissa: In the U.S., you usually see harissa either as a ground powder in the spice aisle or as a paste in a tube or a jar in the global foods section of the grocery store. It varies considerably from household to household (if made from scratch) and from brand to brand. It can be mild or hot. It’s best to sample and find your favorite.

Preserved Lemons: Essential in Middle Eastern and North African kitchens, preserved lemons are used to add a salty, acidic brightness to soups, stews, sauces, and braises. Adeena has a recipe to make them from scratch, but if you’d rather buy them, she recommends the brand New York Shuk. You can also find preserved lemons at Trader Joe's stores.

Crowd-pleasing, nourishing, veggie-filled recipes that use adventurous global flavors and simple ingredients.

I'm Jodi, author, creator and photographer of happy hearted kitchen blog. Food to me is so much more than just a recipe or a grocery list, it's about gathering people around a table for a moment of real nourishment. I cook vegetarian, mostly vegan, meals and have a love affair with seasonal produce. I also whole heartedly believe in the power of a good cookie and a cup of tea, it can completely turn your day around. Just like eating, I know that life is all about balance, and as much as I love being in the kitchen, I also need moments exploring the outdoors. Mountains, camping, hiking, skiing - every adventure needs good snacks. Hoping my happy hearted kitchen fills your hearts, bellies + kitchen tables.

100 Easy Food On A Stick Options

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The details

Zaatar (scientific name Origanum syriacum) is the name for both the wild, bushy herbaceous plant that grows so abundantly across the Levant and the herb mix itself (which is made from the dried and ground leaves of said plant).

Zaatar recipes, meanwhile, spark hotly contested debate across countries, regions and even families. Some argue that to dilute the blend with anything other than zaatar, sumac, sesame seeds and salt is something of a travesty (the aforementioned ­Ottolenghi is of this purist school of thought), while others happily include marjoram, oregano and dried thyme in their concoctions.

If you do fancy making your own zaatar from scratch, it’s worth experimenting with these ingredients and quantities until you settle on a preferred flavour – just don’t stint on the zaatar whatever you do and store the results in an airtight container.



  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds 15 ml
  • ¼ C sumac 60 ml
  • 2 Tbsp dried thyme 30 ml
  • 2 Tbsp dried marjoram 30 ml
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano 30 ml
  • 1 tsp coarse salt 5 ml


  • 2 Tbsp za’atar 30 ml (make your own or check if you can get it from any specialised deli or your local food market)
  • 3 Tbsp good-quality extra virgin olive oil 45 ml
  • 1 kg shoulder of pork
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 C apricot juice 1 litre
  • 1 C good-quality Chenin Blanc 250 ml
  • 3 Tbsp wholegrain mustard 45 ml
  • 2 Tbsp honey 30 ml
  • 2 Tbsp Crema di Balsamico 30 ml

Pie crust

  • 1½ C self-raising flour 375 ml
  • ½ C melted butter 125 ml
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ½ tsp salt 2.5 ml
  • ½ C milk 125 ml


Za’atar is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, and is considered a staple kitchen ingredient in Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. The plant is known as Zahter in Turkey and is wild harvested from the mountains along the region bordering northern Syria. As recently as 2015, Za’atar has been identified as potentially endangered in Turkey due to demand, soil erosion and global warming. In countries like Syria and Lebanon, Za’atar is cultivated to keep up with the demand. Za’atar isn’t often found outside of its native region however, it could be found in small Middle Eastern markets or in home gardens of those living away from the region.