Here's everything you need to know about the lovely, red Sumac spice and two recipes to bring it into your kitchen

By Tim Cebula
Updated: January 25, 2019
Photo: Caitlin Bensel

A dried red spice used traditionally in Middle Eastern cooking, sumac is having a moment. Home cooks and chefs alike have have become infatuated by the bright, tart, lightly astringent flavor the spice adds to dishes.

The brick red powder is made by crushing the dried fruits of the sumac bush. It's popular enough to be be sold at specialty retailers like Penzey's, but it may not yet be stocked at your local supermarket. Still, it's worth seeking out.

Just a pinch adds beguiling complexity to spice rubs for grilled and roasted meats or fish. Also, try sprinkling it over a bowl of hummus or taboulleh, mix a little into vinaigrette for salad, or use it wherever you might add a dash of paprika for an unexpected pop of flavor. If you're still not sure where to take it from here, check out two of our favorite recipes with sumac.

Sumac Chicken With Cauliflower and Carrots

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

This one-pan supper embraces two trends we love: sheet pan cooking (both the main and side cooking together on a single pan), and embracing less-familiar spices (in this case, lemony ground sumac, available at most supermarkets). Sumac is also delicious sprinkled over grilled vegetables or in vinaigrettes. Bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks will stay moist and become beautifully bronzed in the oven as the vegetables become golden brown and tender. The vibrant parsley mixture brings the entire dish together. Serve with hot cooked whole-wheat couscous, if you like.

View Recipe: Sumac Chicken With Cauliflower and Carrots

Maple-Sumac Roasted Walnuts

Photo: Justin Walker

Here’s a perfectly simple and delicious snack to tide guests over as you put the finishing touches on the meal. A little sumac adds a bright piney-citrusy note. Look for it at specialty spice stores. A tablespoon of lemon zest could sub in a pinch, but the sumac is worth seeking out.

View Recipe: Maple-Sumac Roasted Walnuts

 

 

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