June’s Sandy Spice, Za’atar, is a Middle Eastern inspired ‘Everything Blend’ of Za’atar (also known as wild oregano or savory), sesame seeds, and sumac berries. This spice perfectly compliments cheese, fish or vegetables and is expecially delicious when mixed into dressings or used to season poultry. For a unique treat, try mixing with chile flakes and shake onto sliced avocado over buttered toast.
Makes 4 main course or 8 appetizer servings
1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch dice
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper – stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch dice
12 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend, plus extra for sprinkling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound store-bought pizza dough
Cornmeal, for dusting
6 thin slices (about 6 ounces) provolone cheese, cut in half
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. ln a large bowl, combine the eggplant, onion, pepper, zucchini and garlic. Add the olive oil and za’atar and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Turn the vegetables onto a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 425°. Place the baking sheet in the preheating oven and roast the vegetables until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, stir in the cherry tomatoes and continue roasting, stirring once more, until the tomatoes have started to release their juices, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove the ratatouille from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 500°.
3. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a dough scraper or a sharp knife, quarter the dough crosswise. Working with one portion at a time, stretch the dough into a 12-by-4-inch rectangle. Transfer to a large cornmeal-coated baking sheet. Lay slices of provolone cheese over the stretched dough and top each with 1 cup of the ratatouille (you will have 1 to 2 cups of ratatouille left for another use).
4. Bake the pizzas until the crust is crisp and golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. (For a browner crust, broil the tops of the pizzas for a few minutes.) Remove the pizzas from the oven, sprinkle with the grated cheese and additional za’atar and serve.
1. Fry bread cubes in olive oil and mix with za’atar for croutons, finish the salad with a sprinkle of za’atar.
2. Make garlic butter with za’atar and brush onto sweet grilled corn.
Photography by Thomas Schauer.