These stunning and aromatic recipes include za'atar-spiced beet dip with goat cheese and hazelnuts and Israeli hummus with paprika and whole chickpeas.
Food & Wine
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Shakshuka with Fennel and Feta
While working on a kibbutz one summer in Israel, Gail Simmons developed an ardent affection for humble egg dishes like shakshuka, often known in Italy as Eggs in Purgatory. "It’s a popular dish throughout the Middle East and perfect for any meal of the day.”
Israeli Roast Eggplant, Hummus and Pickle Sandwiches
At Butcher & Bee in Charleston, S.C., owner Michael Shemtov and chef Stuart Tracy prepare this messy, incredibly tasty vegetarian sandwich, called a sabich, with vegetables, hummus, house-baked pita and herbs from a garden right behind the restaurant. "The sabich is Iraqi-Israeli, just like me," Shemtov says. "It’s a personal dish."
Za'atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts
Beets have a strong presence in the cuisine of almost every ethnic group in Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi explains. They color pickling juices on the Arab table and form the basis for a soup of Jewish, Iraqi and Kurdish origin. Ottolenghi purees them for this luscious spread.
Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Tahini, the creamy Middle Eastern sesame-seed paste, is the ingenious base for the dressing on this bold-flavored salad. The dressing would be terrific with any number of peppery greens, like escarole, watercress or celery leaves.
According to Yotam Ottolenghi, everyone in Jerusalem eats chopped-vegetable salads with whatever else they’re having. This nontraditional salad is from the mother of his business partner, Sami Tamimi. Called Na’ama’s fattoush, it gets tossed with a tangy buttermilk dressing.
The creamy Middle Eastern eggplant dip called baba ghanouj is traditionally served with warm pita and an assortment of salads. Here, we top the pita with the dip and a mixture of romaine, tomato, and cucumber for an extraordinarily tasty meal.
Falafel stands throughout the Middle East often have some version of this hot chile sauce, called zhoug, for giving a spicy kick to pita sandwiches. Ana Sortun adds pumpkin seeds to her take on this fiery sauce to thicken it and deepen the flavor.
These crunchy chips are sprinkled with za'atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend made with sumac, sesame seeds and dried herbs. Za'atar can also be rubbed on meat and vegetables or mixed into marinades. Look for it at kalustyans.com.
"My passion for halvah (the sesame-seed candy) is no secret. I love its crunchy, gritty, nutty flavor. I first started eating it in Paris at the pâtisseries orientales: the Middle Eastern sweet shops in the fifth arrondissement, near La Sorbonne. The flavor of halvah works well with caramel. Sesame is the new vanilla!"—Bill Yosses