Add Za’atar into your cooking routine and get ready for a huge fragrant explosion of deliciousness! Sumac, sesame seeds and other herbs make this a terrific combination to use on ANYTHING.



Combine it with some olive oil and dip a piece of good bread into it and I guarantee, you’ll be hooked.

For the most part, I like to use fresh herbs in my cooking. But some flavors you just can’t get fresh, like sumac. And when you can get a dried spice mix that’s carefully blended and super fresh, well, let me tell you, it’s nothing like the McCormick supermarket dried spices.

There are different spice blends that fall under the name za’atar, a typical Middle Eastern staple in cooking. They can be predominantly green or red in color. Recipes for such spice mixtures were often kept secret, and not even shared with daughters and other relatives. Can you imagine? This za’atar contains pepper, cumin, oregano, salt, sesame seeds, ground sumac and thyme.


On to the recipe:


1 large butternut squash (2 1/4 lb. in total), cut in half lengthwise with seeds scraped out
2 medium red onions, cut into 1 1/4-inch wedges
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
3 1/2 Tbs. light tahini paste
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. water
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Maldon sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Home Cook’s Pantry za’atar, plus more to sprinkle on top
3 1/2 Tbs. walnuts
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rub the cut sides of the squash with ½ Tbs. of olive oil and fill a baking dish with ¼” of water. Place squash cut side down in the water. Meanwhile in another baking dish, toss the red onion with 2 Tbs. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place both pans in the oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until the onions have taken on some color and are tender. Remove the onions and leave to cool. Turn the squash right side up and roast for 10 – 15 more minutes until it is very tender when pierced with a fork.

Oven baked onions

When squash is done, remove from the oven to cool. When squash is cool enough to handle, scrap the squash from the skin and place in a food processor along with the onions and all of the juices from the onion pan. Add 1 Tbs. of olive oil and the other ingredients, except for the walnuts and parsley.

Process this mixture into a smooth puree.

Za'atar dip ingredients in food processor, unblended

Process this mixture into a smooth puree.

Pour the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the warm dip out in a low shallow bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts and their oil on top, followed by more za’atar and parsley.

Serve with baked pita chips and a variety of dipping vegetables – celery, carrot and fennel strips are nice along with breakfast radishes.


This is a super healthy appetizer recipe to have on hand in the midst of all of the rich food of the season. Make and serve with LOVE! For more recipes like this, visit my blog, LOVE- the secret ingredient

About The Author

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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