A memorable introduction…
My first introduction to za’atar was during my college years. On weekends I would get together with friends and explore Los Angeles’ ethnic restaurants. It was on one such excursion that I discovered “Lebanese pizza” or Man’oushet Za’atar: a flatbread lavishly topped with za’atar and olive oil. It was served right out of the oven with a squeeze of lemon juice. The aromatic za’atar and the lemon juice were a revelation to my 18-year-old taste buds.
What is za’atar?
Za’atar (also known as zatar or satar) is a blend of dried herbs (oregano, marjoram, thyme or hyssop), sesame seeds, sumac and salt. Sometimes cumin or other spices are added. The result is a nutty, herbaceous and slightly lemony spice blend that’s truly outstanding.
Needless to say, za’atar makes today’s roasted cauliflower memorable. And in true Lebanese fashion, the florets are sprinkled with fresh lemon juice just before serving them – a dream!
Roasted cauliflower with za’atar and lemon
active time: 15 min
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 1/2 lbs) (1.1 kg) – florets cut in 2” pieces
- 8 large garlic cloves – peeled and halved
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons za’atar
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 475ºF (245ºC).
- Place the cauliflower and garlic in a non-stick roasting pan large enough to hold the ingredients in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Toss well with your hands, spread in an even layer, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes until tender but still a bit crunchy. Remove from oven and toss. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven again and sprinkle with the za’atar. Toss well and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden-brown. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter, squeeze the lemon juice over the florets and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.