Makes 50-60 biscuits
Za’atar as we know it outside of the Levant is generally a combination of dried woodsy herbs such as oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram with a hit of tanginess from sumac and nuttiness in the form of toasted sesame seeds. Some Za’atar blends include salt, dried orange zest, or dried dill. In the Levant, though the blend will inevitably also contain a large proportion of hyssop confusingly also called za’atar, which grows throughout the Levant. To get the za’atar with hyssop in it, look out for Israeli brands and read the list of ingredients.
Za’atar with its complex mix of woodsy, tangy, and nutty is perfect for livening up proteins, such as roast chicken, yogurt, chickpeas, hummus, and here cheese. For the very best results, grate the cheese yourself, the ready-grated cheese will yield less flavourful cookies.
- 300g (2 ½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 4 teaspoons za’atar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
- 115g (4 ounces) freshly grated cheddar (or Kashkaval)
- 115g (4 ounces) freshly grated parmesan
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, za’atar, salt, and pepper. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter to the food processor and pulse another 5-10 times, until the butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces.
Add the two kinds of cheese to the food processor and pulse between 15-30 times, until the mixture adheres to itself and you have large doughy clumps that stick to the sides of the bowl.
Dump the dough onto a large piece of baking paper and use your hands along with the paper to shape the dough into a log about 5cm (2 inches) in diameter. Wrap the log in the baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 days. You can also freeze the log for up to 6 months.
Heat the oven to 180℃ (350℉). Slice the log into ¾ cm (⅓ inch) thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on a paper-lined baking tray, about 1cm apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve at room temperature. Baked cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.