Okay, so it seems like I am the last food blogger in the world to join Pinterest. I think I'm more of a verbal than visual person, so I prefer browsing recipes in cookbooks or recipe sites rather than looking at pictures alone. But I finally joined Pinterest and made my first boards last week, and although I'm not totally obsessed, it sure is fun! I've especially enjoyed collecting pictures of pretty desserts, which lets me imagine that I might become a master of cookie/cake decorating in the future (considering how rarely I make anything with frosting, this is highly unlikely). Of course, I've also been pinning pictures of regular meals, and one of these inspired this recipe. While I was browsing pizza pictures, I came across one of za'atar pizza, which I thought was a cool idea. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that is often mixed with olive oil as a dip for bread. I decided to take this idea and make za'atar-dusted breadsticks, with a jazzed up tomato sauce for dipping. Making the tomato sauce also gave me an opportunity to use another traditional Middle Eastern ingredient that I just bought for the first time - pomegranate molasses. I'm not going to make any claims as to whether the tomato sauce I made is anything like an authentic Middle Eastern recipe. I'll just say that it's tasty, a little sweeter, spicier, and more tart than the tomato sauce you may be used to, with a fruity undertone from the pomegranate molasses. The sauce works well with the spices on the breadsticks, and this dish makes a fun appetizer. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some more pictures to pin!
Za’atar breadsticks with Middle Eastern tomato sauce
Makes about 12 breadsticks
Note: I used a thin crust style pizza dough for this, so my breadsticks didn't rise very much. Yours might end up puffier than mine, depending on the dough you use. Either way will taste good!
1 lb. pizza dough (if you want to make your own, you can find a recipe here)
1 tbs olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs za’atar (Middle Eastern spice blend, I got mine at Christina's)
1 tbs olive oil
½ cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) chopped tomatoes
1 tbs pomegranate molasses (can be found at Whole Foods)
1 tbs lemon juice
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tbs chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Pat dough into a ¼-inch thick rectangle that is about 12 inches long, and cut crosswise into ½-inch strips with a pizza cutter. Twist pairs of strips together and pinch the pieces together at the ends. Place twists on the prepared baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Cover sheet loosely with plastic wrap and let the breadsticks rise for 30 min.
While breadsticks are rising, make tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 min. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and allspice and bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Puree mixture in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until smooth. Add sugar and more red pepper flakes if desired. Season sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in chopped parsley.
When breadsticks are finished rising, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and za’atar. Bake at 400 deg F for 15-17 min, or until golden brown. Remove breadsticks from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle. Serve breadsticks warm with hot tomato sauce.
Breadsticks are best right after baking, but can be stored in an airtight container for a couple days at room temperature. Heat breadsticks in a 350 deg F oven before serving to re-crisp the edges.