You Should Consider Using Za'atar Next Time You Make Potatoes

When it comes to side dishes, the humble potato reigns high. Whether they're julienned and fried, boiled and mashed, halved and baked, or chilled and mixed into a potato salad — when the spud makes it onto the table, you shouldn't expect to have any leftovers. There are fingerling potatoes, russet potatoes, purple potatoes, and other types — each equally loved and relished in cuisines around the world.

Part of the reason why this tuber has such worldwide fame is because of its versatility. According to National Geographic, it's one of the top global food crops, based on production quantity. A root vegetable of that stature deserves to be accompanied by a seasoning of a similar ranking; anything less would be a disservice. Like potatoes, za'atar reigns in a standing all its own — using this kitchen staple instantly upgrades your dinner game.  Often referred to as the "king of herbs," per Martha Stewart, za'atar makes a royal match with spuds.

The king of herbs

Za'atar's regal standing isn't unmerited. The spice blend delivers a mixture of bold aromas and textures; the composition of the flavors, though, can change based on which part of the Middle East it comes from, according to Allrecipes. Even within the same region, one household might make it differently from another. The signature ingredients for this mix are dried oregano, thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Depending on where you are, it could also include salt as well as dried marjoram, caraway seeds, dill, orange zest, and, of course, the eponymous herb za'atar (also called hyssop), which grows naturally in the Middle East (via Tyme Foods).

The diversity of exciting and somewhat unexpected textures, scents, and flavors is exactly the reason why za'atar pairs wonderfully with your crispy roasted potatoes, served alongside any protein of your choice. The complexity it brings can also add a zing to all your go-to potato dishes. You could sprinkle some of it on top of your french fries, whip up a za'atar aioli, or use the spice mix to create a Middle Eastern-inspired potato salad.