Summer grilling with bright flavors of the Middle East.

Platter by Francisco Martinez

For the unaquainted, za’atar is an herb and spice mix common to the cuisines of the Levant. It’s often served swimming in olive oil as a dip for pita bread, but it makes a pleasantly fragrant, crunchy coating for grilled asparagus slathered in a tangy yogurt sauce. It can be found at many up-market grocery stores these days, or order a jar online.

Makes 4 servings

[ingredients title=”Ingredients”]

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) thick asparagus spears
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend



[directions title=”Directions”]

  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat direct cooking.
  2. Whisk the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt or lemon juice, if needed. Cover and set aside at room temperature while grilling the asparagus, or up to 2 hours. (The sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
  3. Snap the woody bottoms from the asparagus and peel the bottom third of the stalk. Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with a big pinch of salt. Roll them around to coat evenly.
  4. When the grill is ready, place the asparagus over the hottest parts and cook until evenly charred in spots and crisp-tender in the center, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the grilled asparagus back to the baking sheet and sprinkle with the za’atar. Roll them around to evenly coat each spear.
  5. Smear the yogurt sauce over the base of a serving platter. Pile the asparagus over the sauce, and drizzle with more olive oil. Serve hot or at room temperature.



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