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What Is Za’atar?
The word za’atar most commonly refers to za’atar seasoning, a Middle Eastern spice blend that traditionally consists of ground za’atar (the herb itself is a type of wild oregano), sesame seeds, dried sumac, and salt—though now, recipes often substitute the difficult-to-obtain ground za’atar for similar herbs, such as domesticated thyme or oregano. Za’atar recipes and za’atar blends are common in Lebanese, Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian, and other Middle Eastern and North African cultures.
What to Serve With Za’atar Sweet Potato Fries
Oven-baked sweet potato fries are a versatile side dish that goes well with a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. They're great with a burger or alongside Mediterranean chickpea salad, tabbouleh, arugula avocado salad, or fattoush salad with cherry tomatoes, pita bread, and feta cheese. You can also serve crispy sweet potato fries as part of a mezze (appetizer platter) with hummus and flatbread, with falafel for a gluten-free meal, or with quinoa, black beans, and veggies like roasted red peppers, roasted cauliflower, and sautéed kale with lemon juice.
Homemade sweet potato fries are best with a homemade dipping sauce, such as vegan tahini sauce, Greek yogurt tzatziki, garlic herb sauce, or ketchup mixed with harissa.
Za’atar Sweet Potato Fries Recipe
Prep Time25 min
Total Time55 min
Cook Time30 min
- 3 medium sweet potatoes (or 2 large sweet potatoes)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
- 2 teaspoons za’atar spice blend
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- A pinch of black pepper
- Kosher salt to taste
- Prepare sweet potatoes. Peel or leave sweet potato skins intact. Quarter sweet potatoes, then slice into matchsticks or wedges. Soak potato wedges in a large bowl of cold water, at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed large baking sheet or sheet pan with parchment paper. Drain sweet potato fries and pat dry. Transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with cornstarch.
- Arrange sweet potato fries in a single layer on the parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to completely coat. Roast sweet potatoes until golden brown and fork-tender, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the za'atar spice mix. In a small bowl, combine za’atar, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix well, and adjust proportions to your taste.
- Transfer sweet potato fries to a large bowl and sprinkle with two tablespoons za'atar and cayenne, paprika, and black pepper for spicier fries. Toss to coat, and add additional za'atar seasoning and salt if needed.
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