Za’atar Compound Butter
I had a few friends over a couple of Sundays ago to watch a game and was already making some of my lamb meatballs with a spicy yoghurt dipping sauce. Wine was a given with each girlfriend independently deciding to bring two (two!) bottles each, and I had a delicious, simple cheese plate going with a beautiful Parmigiano Reggiano, a French Double Cream Brie, a Jura Erguel, and some speck and olives from Murray’s Cheese.
I had that (way paranoid) feeling that I wasn’t serving enough stuff and (gasp!) that someone might leave hungry and remembered I had some parbaked French baguettes in the freezer. I came up with this butter to slather on some toasty, crunchy pieces of the baguette, and it was super simple and a quick fix.
I’ve mentioned za’atar previously, so I won’t go into the whole history of it. But it’s lovely on its own or mixed with a little olive oil to dip. The first four ingredients of my recipe below make your basic za’atar. I like to add a little roasted garlic, which you can omit if you want it simpler. Mix it all up with some room temperature butter, and you have a great compound butter. Nutty from the sesame, a bit tart from the sumac, earthy from the thyme – casual for a game night or elegant for a sit down dinner. Enjoy!
Yields approximately ½ cup compound butter
1 tbsp sesame seeds, black or white or some combination of both
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp sumac
½ tsp salt
4 or 5 cloves roasted garlic (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly golden in color (for the white seeds).
Over a small bowl, place dried thyme in your palms and rub palms together to pulverize thyme and get oils going. Add toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt and mix thoroughly.
Add roasted garlic, if using, and softened butter and mix until za’atar is evenly distributed.