Cooking Israel

Za'atar Dip or Pesto

Tags: Passover, Food, Holidays

Based on Recipes by Israeli Chef Moshe Basson, reprinted from

Photo courtesy of

Za'atar (hyssop) is the plant which Jews in Egypt used to mark their doorposts on the night of the tenth plague on the Egyptians, so that their houses would be ‘passed over’ by the Angel of Death. The dried za’atar spice can be used on chicken or fish, and the spread tastes wonderful on matzah.


3/4 cup fresh za’atar (hyssop) leaves. If za’atar is not available, oregano leaves can be substituted
5 garlic cloves (optional)
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted. Almonds can be used instead, if desired
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice


1) Place all ingredients except for the za’atar leaves and lemon juice into a food chopper or food processor in the order that they are listed, starting with garlic on the bottom, then nuts, then seasoning, then oil. So they do not liquefy, put the za’atar leaves in last.
2) Grind in short pulses, gradually adding lemon juice. Beware of over grinding the mixture, which should be grainy, not smooth.
3) Taste, balance amount of lemon and salt.

B'teavon and Chag Pesach Sameach!

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Tags: Passover, Food, Holidays