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Za'atar Manakeesh (Made with Sourdough Starter)


I have always called this Man’oushe. The Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf saw this on the table and said, "Oh, Mom! You made Manakeesh. I love Manakeesh." Turns out that some of his classmates had made and brought a za'atar-laden flatbread to a class potluck and called it Manakeesh. Fine. Whatever you want to call it, it's easy to make and delicious.

You can eat this just as is, but you can serve it as an appetizer with olives and feta cheese. Or it can be part of a heavier Middle Eastern meal composed of hummus, baba ganoush, meatballs, and salad. For this lunch, I actually served it with Fattoush, a chopped salad made with veggies and herbs. That recipe will follow!

Ingredients makes 4 large flatbreads

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that I always have on hand. It's a breeze to make and adds something fabulous to olive oil for dipping and - I've just discovered - as a spice rub on any kind of meat! My za'atar recipe makes about 5 tablespoons. If you have any leftover (you will), keep it in a sealed jar for future use.

Usually I make this flatbread with yeast. But I tried my hand at making it with sourdough starter instead since I always have that in excess these days. It was a breeze.

Dough 
  • 3-1/2 cups flour plus more for rolling, as needed
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (recently fed)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Za'atar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, pulled off the stem and minced (I used thyme and oregano)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (I used black and white sesame seeds)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon flake salt
Assembly
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Also needed: baking stone, rolling pin

Procedure

Za'atar 
In batches, blend and crush the spices with a mortar and pestle. Leave some sesame seeds whole, if you wish.

Dough
Mix all of the dough ingredients together in a large bowl. The texture will be a wet, sticky dough. Cover and let ferment for as long as you can - between six and twelve hours.

Assembly
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into quarters. Roll the dough out onto a baking stone or baking sheet, using a bit of flour, if needed, to about 12" x 4". Sprinkle each bread with the za'atar and drizzle with olive oil.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the crust is crisped and golden. Remove the flatbreads from the oven when the crusts are golden brown and serve warm or at room temperature.

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