You’ve probably tried the Middle Eastern spice sumac, even if you didn’t realize it. It’s that deep reddish-purple dried spice that coats the raw onion slivers used as a garnish in many local Greek and Lebanese eateries. It’s also the anchor ingredient in the spice blend zaatar, which you might have combined with olive oil to make a luscious dipping sauce for pita. Those are just two uses for sumac, whose lemony notes make it a fantastic accompaniment to a big variety of dishes.
You can find sumac at Red Stick Spice Co., as well as lots of local specialty grocery stores and international markets. Once you start using it, you’ll want to keep finding new ways to incorporate it. It’s wildly versatile, since you generally use it as a marinade or on foods just before you serve them. Sumac is perfect with various proteins, salads, sauces, dips and more.
Below are five everyday uses for sumac:
Sumac is a delectable addition to fluffy, delicately flavored scrambled eggs. Sprinkle a little on just before serving. The ruddy hue adds beautiful color, and the citrus notes bring a new dimension of flavor. Sumac is also delicious on fried, poached or deviled eggs.
It’s hard to justify making your own hummus with so many fine varieties on supermarket shelves, but you can elevate any store-bought version by adding a pinch (or several) of sumac and a douse of olive oil. Guests will ask you if the hummus is homemade. It’s up to you how you’ll respond.
Tomato, cucumber and onion salad
A classic use for sumac in Mediterranean cooking is for dusting raw onions and tomatoes before serving them in a salad. Sumac helps mellow the onions and brings a pleasant sour note to the sweet tomatoes. Combine sumac-marinated onions and tomatoes with chunks of cucumber, and toss with olive oil and lemon juice for an easy salad.
Garlic mashed potatoes
Creamy garlic mashed potatoes with butter, salt and pepper don’t seem like they could get much better, but they can with sumac. The deep red-purple color shows beautifully against a mound of mashed potatoes, and makes you want to dive right in. Sumac is also yummy on sweet potato fries.
Feta is delicious on its own, but it’s even better when cut into cubes, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with sumac. Plate it on a mezze platter with cold vegetables, olives, hummus, baba ganouj, tabbouleh and pita to kick off the evening.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.