I was looking through Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby’s book Big Flavors of the Hot Sun for inspiration and read a recipe too quickly, thinking that grilled Chicken Thighs with Persian-style Nut Rub was for chicken with spiced nuts. It wasn’t, but I had already gotten excited about the possibilities and ended up creating this spiced nut mix.
Zaatar can be found in most ethnic markets that have an extensive spice selection. Mad up of sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme, it is popular in the Middle East, where it is sprinkled on salads, vegetables, meats, and breads. Sumac, the berry of a bush that is considered solely decorative in the West, gives the mixture a kind of fruity but slightly sour taste. I call for Greek oregano because I prefer it to all others. To toast the sesame seeds, just add them to the almonds and pistachios during the last five minutes of their initial roasting.
Makes 2 cups.
1 cup lightly roasted whole almonds, blanched or skin on
1 cup lightly roasted shelled pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (see headnote)
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
1 teaspoon dried Greek Oregano
1 teaspoon zaatar
Pinch of cayenne or freshly ground black pepper
1. Place everything in a medium-size bowl and toss to combine and coat evenly. Set aside to cool completely before serving.
If you’re sipping: Nibble on these with ouzo mixed with water.
From Party Nuts! 50 Recipes for Spicy, Sweet, Savory, and Simply Sensational Nuts That Will Be the Hit of Any Gathering (The Harvard Common Press, 2002)