Man’oushe is really the appropriate word used in the Eastern Mediterranean and it is the cornerstone of a Lebanese breakfast. As popular a street food as it is a homemade item, it is topped with a variety of different foods such as cheeses like Kashkaval or Bulgarian, meats with pine nuts, vegetables, pepper pastes and many others. In my house, we all favor the wild oregano pies, including my 11 month-old daughter and my (almost 3) year-old son, who when asked once about his favorite ice cream flavor, responded with “man’oushe zaatar” (Lebanese for oregano pie)!
I get my oregano from my hometown village in the mountains of Lebanon where it grows wild, hand picked and dried under the Mediterranean sun. Can someone live somewhere vicariously through a food? A most certain YES. Although it doesn’t take long to prepare, this is a weekend meal. You can’t rush the dough, rest time is very important. That part of the prep work will take about 2.5 hours, so plan ahead.
As for the oregano mix or zaatar, I make mine here at home by mixing the dried ground oregano with sesame seeds, sumac, salt and brioche crumbs (recipe to follow). Although, you can find this mixture ready in any Mediterranean store. It’s a very useful mix that can be sprinkled over cheese like Grilled Halloumi, Pizza, Pasta or Salads.
For the dough, I use whole grain flour, mix it with the salt, yeast, oil and water in the mixer for about 2 minutes until the dough became elastic. Place it in a bowl to rest covered for 2 hours. Once doubled in volume, I divide it into ten balls and let them rest again for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I mix the oregano mixture with olive oil, onions and walnuts (optional) to be spread over the rolled out balls.
Bake at 450’F for 5 minutes. Enjoy warm with seasonal vegetables, plain yogurt and hot sauce if you like the kick.
For the oregano mix (zaatar)
1 cup oregano, ground
1 cup sumac, ground
1 cup brioche crumbs, finely ground
2 Tbsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
This mix will keep in the pantry for six months, or freeze it and use as needed.
3/4 cup oregano mix
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 vidalia onion, finely diced
1/4 cup walnuts, crushed into small pieces
Mix all ingredients well before spreading on pie dough. Spread evenly all around the dough.
For the dough
3 1/2 cups whole grain flour
1 1/2 cups luke warm water (may vary based on altitude)
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Sift the flour in the mixer bowl, add salt, sugar and mix well. Bloom the yeast in 2 tablespoons of luke warm water. Add oil and yeast mix to flour and slowly start adding the water as you mix. A water as needed to get all the flour incorporated well. Continue mixing until the edges of the mixer bowl are cleaned out (about 1 minute or 2). Test the dough with your finger. If too stiff, add a touch more water and mix again until all blended and bowl is cleaned again.
Place covered in a bowl to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours. Once ready divide the balls, let rest for 30 minutes before rolling them out on a lightly floured surface to make a 6″ round. Spread the oregano mix and bake.