I can’t remember the first time I came across za’atar, but my obsession with it fully peaked when a company based out of New Zealand called Sami’s Kitchen, reached out to me. Sam, who co-owns the business sent over a sampling of his Middle Eastern spices, and immediately, I was hooked.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix that includes dried oregano, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. There are different variations of the spice mix, and every one you try will likely taste a little bit different from the last. Za’atar has a puckery, zesty taste that vaguely reminds me of lemon zest. After including Sami’s Kitchen Za’atar in our November Pairings Box, I’ve literally been putting Za’atar in everything. I season vegetables with it before roasting them. I sprinkle it on chicken. I toss it along with fresh tomatoes in salad. And, recently, I’ve been putting it on pizza with loads of fresh burrata cheese.
What came together in my kitchen was a little pit of pizza magic: an adaptation of my favorite pizza dough recipe from Pizzeria Mozza, topped with my favorite zesty spice, a little bit of olive oil and gorgeous dollops of creamy burrata cheese. I chose to play up the herb-forward flavor of the pizza by adding in a bit of fresh chopped rosemary into the dough. This pizza would be delicious as a meal or an appetizer, and bridges the road between Italy and the Middle East in a pretty unique way.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, yeast, sugar, salt and 1 cup of warm water (115°F). Let the mixture sit for about 10 to 12 minutes (until it’s foamy).
Add the flours and chopped rosemary. Mix on slow speed. Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes (until smooth). Divide the dough into two balls. Place them on a floured baking sheet and cover with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 2 to 3 hours or until it is nearly tripled in size.
Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and heat your oven to 500°F. Place one ball of dough on a floured sheet of parchment paper. Use your fingers to stretch it out to a 10 inch diameter. Work from the center and be careful not to stretch too thin. The center should be relatively thin; leave a 1 inch border of slightly thicker, puffier crust. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
Cover the pizza crusts with kitchen towels and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Brush both pizzas with olive oil (including the crust) and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of za'atar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer one of the pizzas, on the parchment paper, to the pizza stone. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (until golden and puffy). Remove the pizza from the oven and carefully transfer it to a cutting board. Top with dollops of burrata and drizzle with more olive oil. Repeat with the second pizza.
Photography by Kasey Hickey