If using untoasted sesame seeds, heat a small skillet over low to medium heat. Add sesame seeds and toast for a few minutes or until lightly golden brown, stirring frequently.
Transfer toasted sesame seeds to a mortar, small blender, or small mixing bowl, along with thyme, oregano, cumin, sea salt (starting with lesser amount), and sumac. Use either the pestle, blender, or a spoon to combine the mixture. Add olive oil (optional) near the end and mix again to combine.
Taste test and adjust as needed, adding more cumin for smokiness, salt to taste, sumac for tartness, thyme for floral notes, oregano for a woodsy taste, or sesame seeds for sesame flavor and more texture. NOTE: The amount of salt you add will depend on preference. If you typically add more salt to dishes, hold back a bit. If you want this to be a stand-alone spice blend that seasons a salad or hummus, etc., a greater amount of salt is nice for balance and flavor.
Perfect for marinating or seasoning meats, garnishing dips and salads, or adding more flavor to just about any dish, especially those that are Middle Eastern or Mediterranean inspired, including hummus, grilled chicken, or roasted vegetables.
Will keep in a sealed container for at least 3 months (or longer) at room temperature. Or, refrigerate to keep fresh even longer.
*Inspired by Dalia Dogmoch. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional olive oil.