Monday, June 27, 2011

Adventures in Spices: Smoked Paprika and Za'atar

Awhile ago, I had bought some smoked paprika and za'atar with the intention of using them to season homemade pita chips.  I still haven't gotten around to making the pita chips, but I did decide to experiment with the seasonings in tonight's concoction.

Smoked paprika is sometimes  referred to as "Smoked Spanish Paprika."  It's made from "smoked, ground pimiento peppers," and, not shockingly knowing it's alias, it can be found featured in Spanish cusisine.

When I bought the smoked paprika at Whole Foods, the cooking consultant who helped me locate it recommended I pair it with Za'atar, a "mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean areas."

Tonight, I put some wild rice up in the rice cooker. While that was bubbling away, I sauteed a finely diced Vidalia onion in olive oil and stirred in some cremini mushrooms, chickpeas, diced yellow pepper, shredded carrots, minced garlic and kale.  I stirred in the cooked rice and seasoned the whole thing with a teaspoon of Za'atar and half a teaspoon of the smoked paprika.  I definitely got the smokiness I expected from the paprika.  And, it was a nice flavor adventure compared to my typical Italian (oregano, basil) or Mexican (cumin, cilantro) influenced concoctions.

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