Zaatar Rice Stuffed Peppers Is A Taste Of Middle Eastern Culture

Better Homes & Gardan 

Better Homes & Gardan 

Za’atar, it’s a Middle Eastern spice mixture containing thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, etc. It’s really delicious and you can use it for any kind of dish you might think of as it goes nicely with pretty much anything. Including sautéing it and using it as a topping for challah bread or on a much more simple dish of grilled meat.

Moreover, Za’atar is one of those ingredients you can find anywhere, from Amazon to gourmet stores and kosher supermarket or your favourite Middle Eastern market.

There won’t be lack of recipes for it, you will most certainly keep finding many uses for it. Especially considering that a bottle lasts for a quite a long time.

Say you are left with a couple of chicken thighs in your kitchen after a dinner party. Get some of your Za’atar and throw it in one pot chicken and rice. The chicken thighs have a crispy skin with a moist interior while the rice is creamy and full of spices. Place some crunchy almonds on top, a bit of lemon juice, some fresh parsley and you are ready to throw another sophisticated dinner party.

Za'atar is a traditional middle-eastern mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, sumac, and often salt. It is so traditional that it dates back to the 13th century, making it a centuries-old mixture.

In much of the Middle East, za'atar recipes are usually treasured as precious secrets by families as they are considered to be an essential part of their culture. So much so that what those herbs are and how all those ingredients are proportioned can vary from culture to culture and family to family.

Regional variations are also a substantial element. In Jordan, for instance, the za'atar is particularly heavy on the sumac, whereas Lebanese za'atar may have dried orange zest.

In Israel, on the other hand, families most likely adopted za’atar from Arab communities much like the American adoption of salsa, and it often includes dried dill.

Much like with any other recipe that includes za’atar rice, stuffed peppers are easy to make and sure to steal the show.

Here are all the ingredients you need:

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 290 g arborio rice or other risotto rice
  • 460 ml water
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants or small raisins
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 green or red peppers

Here are all the Instructions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until they are soft. Add the rice and stir until the rice grains are coated with oil. This should take about 3 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  3. Add the water, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well and cook for 15 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the water, but is still slightly undercooked. Stir in the pine nuts, currants or raisins, tomato, cinnamon, allspice, mint, dill, parsley, lemon juice and remaining olive oil.
  4. Cut a circular opening around the top of the peppers and set aside as a cover. Remove the seeds and the insides with a small spoon. Equally, divide the filling between the peppers and replace the cover.
  5. Place the pepper side by side on a flat baking tray and pour on about 1 cm of water.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, until the peppers are soft.
  7. Allow to cool prior to serving.

Za’arat rice stuffed peppers is a dish that shows your cooking is not only sophisticated but also tastefully curated.