Sunday, March 25, 2012

Uses for Sumac: Za'atar Potatoes

Pin It Last spring, we posted a quick curiosity poll on FacebookAre there spices in your cupboard that you wished you used more often, but you don't know quite what to do with them? What are they?

Top answers included  turmeric, tarragon, marjoram, and cardamom.  But, one of the most interesting came from Jen Peters, author of The Eco Table, who said in the comments: "sumac. it's local to wisconsin, but i've only used it a few times."

That really got us thinking. And we decided that it's about time we talked a little about sumac. 

After all, we have something of a love affair going on with it. We use it on a fairy regular basis, especially as summer approaches -- as a seasoning for lamb kebabs, fish filets and grilled chicken, a topping for crackers and flatbreads, and as an ingredient in salad dressing. And so it seems a shame not to share.

Sumac's tart flavor means we use it almost anywhere you could use a splash of lemon juice -- on a sliced tomato, or sprinkled on salmon or grilled vegetables.

We're also pretty nutty about the spice blend za'atar, which we use pretty regularly as a seasoning for hummus.  The blend we buy from the Spice House here in Milwaukee contains sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, hyssop and oregano.

One of our favorite ways to use za'atar is on roasted potatoes.  And it's not just because they're such a pretty purple-ish red color before they go into the oven.
Just toss small halved or quartered potatoes, along with a small chopped onion, with a liberal amount of olive oil, sprinkle with za'atar and roast in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. The potatoes will crisp up, the onions will brown slightly and sweeten, and that za'atar will impart a pleasantly sour, citrusy flavor with a hint of woodsy herbal flavor. These gorgeous potatoes are delicious served alongside a nice roast or next to a burger. But, they're equally wonderful when diced a bit more finely and served up as breakfast potatoes.

Got any favorite ways to use sumac?  Or za'atar?

©BURP! Where Food Happens


  1. I find many uses of zataar since I love this spice. Potatoes with zataar hmm did not think of it but I am going to try it soon since it really sounds interesting.

  2. Yummy! I love sumac! I agree they are great on roasted potatoes. I also like it in roasted cauliflower. YUM

  3. It's funny that you should mention zataar (which I've sadly never tried - nor have I ever tried sumac - time for some experiments) contains hyssop, because that's an herb I underused once upon a time. I bought the plan on impulse after smelling it at the nursery. It grew its little heart out for me all summer on my little balcony, but I ignored it. One day I finally decided to do something with it. I infused it in sugar syrup and blended that with peach liqueur and proseco. Made a great cocktail, but I never used the poor neglected plant again.


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