When I was a child, my grandfather would often tell me that zaa’tar made people smart. “Eat, eat, you are getting smarter,” he would say. I would giggle away thinking that he was just saying that to get me to eat the tangy greenish powder. These days I need no excuse to devour the delicious spice blend – as a dip, topping, seasoning, and the list goes on. It is also worth mentioning that it does actually make you smarter. Recent studies have found a positive relation between eating zaa’tar and learning and memory. Seriously, look it up. 🙂 The lesson here is to listen to your elders, their stories are not unfounded. And also, eat more zaa’tar. Not like it was a hard thing to do to begin with, right?
I am always thinking up new ways to use the heavenly mix. One of my favorite involves spelt flour. Its rich and nutty flavor pairs divinely with extra-virgin olive oil and zaa’tar. It also results in a soft, tender, and chewy flatbread. I find that it even provides for more flavor than the traditional plain flour. And the best part is that in this recipe, it requires no kneading, resting time, or elbow grease. How great is that? This recipe is perfect for a last minute meal idea. And that does not go without saying that it will make your kitchen smell irresistible. Serve with some labaneh for dipping and a big bowl of tabouleh or Arabic salad for topping the breads with. Heaven.
INGREDIENTS/ MAKES 8 FLATBREADS
For the Dough
2 cups/ 240 gr. spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup/78 ml. plus 3 tablespoons water
loose handful fresh zaa’tar or thyme leaves, chopped
For the Topping
7 tablespoons olive oil
9 tablespoons zaa’tar spice blend
1. Preheat oven to 220 C/ 425 F and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Mix to combine.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour mixture, olive oil, and thyme and mix with a kneading hook while streaming the water. Stir with a spoon occasionally to combine. Add enough water so that the mixture holds together. I used 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can most definitely do this by hand. Stir the mixture until it comes together and then knead only for a few minutes to combine.
4. Shape the dough into the size of 8 small plums. On a floured surface, flatten each ball with a rolling pin so that it is about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick. Transfer to baking pan.
5. For the topping, combine olive oil and zaa’tar in a small bowl and mix well. Brush the mixture onto the dough and bake for about 9-11 minutes. The bread should be golden from the bottom, soft, and tender. Serve right away!