RECIPES: Caramelized Onion & Cheese Za’atar Spread for Middle Eastern Bread Salad Sandwiches


By Christine Datian

1 medium white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh Mozzarella or Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2-3 cloves minced garlicD

1 teaspoon za’atar (Middle Eastern spice mixture)

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1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest

1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Chopped flat-leaf parsley (2-3 tablespoons)

Sea or Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and dried oregano to taste

Unsalted butter or olive oil



Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil to a medium pan and caramelize the onion until browned.

In a medium bowl, combine the browned onion, cheeses, garlic, za’atar, lemon juice, zest, sesame seeds, parsley, and salt, pepper and oregano to taste; mix all ingredients until smooth.

Spread or spoon mixture onto sliced pita bread, flat bread, baguettes, ciabatta, Italian or French bread that has been halved.  Lay bread on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese melts and becomes bubbly.  (This spread may also be used on corn or flour tortillas and baked, etc.)

Remove bread from oven and cut into wedges.  Top bread with choice of thinly sliced cucumbers, radishes, green onions, tomatoes, chopped Greek or black olives, and choice of mixed greens or chopped spinach, if desired.  Sprinkle chopped fresh mint and drizzle with olive oil; top with additional za’atar or paprika and serve.

Note:  Halloumi cheese is very popular throughout the Middle East today.  Dense and salty, it can be grilled (“saganaki”), shredded or pan-fried.  Serve fried or grilled halloumi cheese tossed with fresh diced watermelon and red and green grapes as an accompaniment with these Middle Eastern Bread Salad Sandwiches.

*To see more of Christine’s recipes, go to: or

Christine Vartanian Datian is a native of Fresno, California and lives in Las Vegas.  She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno
(CSUF), and holds a Master of Arts Degree (MA) in Mass Communications.  She has been published in Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines for over a decade.


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