Pomegranate seeds and non-fat Greek yogurt lend a Middle Eastern accent to organic Spanish brown rice with black beans, garlic cloves, organic diced tomatoes and saffron.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
This onetime bread lover couldn't get enough of loaves spread with a fragrant mixture of za'atar (Arabic for "thyme") and olive oil.
Fresh bread covered with za'atar -- dried thyme, sumac, salt and sesame seeds -- was terrific, but I also loved toasting it and hearing the mixture sizzle when it got hot.
Za'atar and yogurt, filled with diced cucumbers and dusted with dried mint, are flavors I recall fondly from the Syrian cooking I enjoyed growing up in Brooklyn.
I discovered Aleppo pepper -- a simple, mildly spicy crushed red pepper that adds color and flavor -- in the Syrian groceries and restaurants in Paterson's Middle Eastern bazaar.
I continue to enjoy those flavors today.
Now, I use za'atar to season eggs, rice, fresh tomato slices and other food, relishing the sour sumac and crunchy sesame seeds.
In an omelet stuffed with smoked wild salmon, the sourness of the za'atar contrasts nicely with the slightly salty fish.
Aleppo pepper and za'atar thyme mixture can be added in the last few minutes of cooking an egg-white omelet stuffed with reduced-fat Swiss cheese or used liberally inside and outside the omelet.
I sprinkled thyme mixture over organic Spanish brown rice before I reheated it in the microwave, and used a thick layer, such as you'd find on za'atar bread, with two organic eggs fried sunny side up.
|Taking a break from eggs at breakfast, I plated the last piece of leftover cod with sweet potatoes and whole garlic cloves mashed with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, cinnamon, curry powder and other seasonings.|
Za'atar thyme mixture, Aleppo pepper, dried mint and many other spices are available at Fattal's, 975-77 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125.
Fattal's is open 7 days a week and has a large parking lot.