Cheese and Zaatar toasties are a great way to start using zaatar if you're not too familiar with it.
What is Zaatar?
Zaatar is a strong herb and it roughly translates to wild oregano which is common in many mediterranean countries, even though many times it's presented as thyme, it's slightly different than the regular thyme you get in your supermarket.
The other way to eat zaatar is to mix it with some good olive oil to form a runny paste and dip bread in it.
I've written in depth about zaatar in this section of the blog explaining the different types and how it's usually consumed.
The health benefits of zaatar
Growing up our parents used to encourage us to eat zaatar, usually for breakfast or as a light dinner, by telling us it was good for our brains.
Of course we thought they were tricking us but now apparently it's true 🤓zaatar can aid your memory and even has cancer fighting properties.
Where can I find zaatar?
Many supermarkets offer zaatar in the herb and spice section but if you have a Lebanese friend try and get some from them as the quality will be better.
You can use any bread but i've used a stone baked sourdough here.
I've also tried it with tortilla, toast, bagels, normal French baguette as well as pita bread.
Any mild flavoured yellow cheese will do such as Gouda, emmental, Mozzerella that's suitable for toasting or even a mild cheddar.
Something like Feta or Brie would be too strong for the zaatar and you couldn't distinguish the final zaatar taste from the cheese.
I've also found using the Turkish kashkawan cheese is very good as it stays melty.
I love using a mix of cheeses as they each give a different dimension to the cheese toasty.
Tips on making the best zaatar cheese toasties
The key is not to put too much zaatar on as it will overpower the cheese. You need to treat it like a seasoning so not too much but just enough to taste it of course.
Make sure your griddle is very hot before you put the toastie on so it doesn't dry up as it's heating.
This is one of the most typical ways Lebanese people eat zaatar, of course the other way is on a manoushe (oven baked flatbread).
Sometimes when i'm in Lebanon I ask the local baker to mix cheese with zaatar on my manoushe as I love the creaminess of the cheese against the sharp tangy zaatar.
Cheese and zaatar will become your favourite new speedy snack when you want more than just a boring cheese sandwich.
Cheese and Zaatar Toasties
- One baguette/ciabatta/sourdough
- A handful of mild yellow cheese such as Mozzarella Gouda, Emmental.
- 2 tbsp of zaatar mixed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Switch on your panini grill
Slice the bread down the middle
Spread the zaatar paste on one side with a spoon
Apply the cheese on top and transfer to the grill
Toast until the cheese is oozy
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