Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend made up of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. Sumac is slightly tart and reminiscent of lemon. This is a great spice to use on chicken, fish or pork and here’s a recipe for Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad.
Optimize your time by using these tips. Start the quinoa while you prepare and cook the chicken. Let the quinoa sit and cool a bit. Move on to the dressing, which you should make in a bowl large enough to hold all the quinoa salad ingredients. Prepare the vegetables, add to the dressing, and thoroughly combine. Let sit at room temperature until the chicken is done.
The salad can be made ahead and refrigerated; let sit out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving to warm up a bit. Give it a stir occasionally to even out the temperature.
Roast, grill or sauté the chicken and add the lime juice as soon as the chicken is done cooking, which allows the juices to absorb, adding a nice tanginess. Avoid adding the juice to the raw chicken to save a step; the flavor dissipates in the heat.
I chose red quinoa, black quinoa is good too, because it adds color to the dish. This grain has a slightly firm texture and nutty flavor and is a nice change from rice or orzo. A green lettuce leaf adds a splash of green and crunch on the plate and the cilantro complements the all the flavors nicely.
This Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad makes a great lunch or dinner.
Coming next week, recipes Spelt Flatbread and Roasted Spiced Carrot Puree. Great accompaniment for this dish – spread the carrot puree over the flatbread and top with crumbled feta cheese, crushed pistachios and a drizzle of cilantro oil.
Watch the Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad Video Here
Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad
Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend made up of sumac, thyme, white sesame seeds and salt. Sumac has a slight tartness to it, reminiscent of lemon. The chicken can be roasted, grilled or pan sautéed. Adding the lime juice as soon as the chicken is done cooking allows the juices to be absorbed while the chicken rests. I chose red or black quinoa for the color it adds to the dish.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 portions
- Category: Salads
1 cup red quinoa
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup Za’atar seasoning
3 tablespoons minced cloves garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
20 turns of the pepper mill
zest of one lime
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 container (7 ounces) Greek yogurt, such as Fage
3 tablespoons tahini
zest of one lime
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups cooked black or red quinoa (see recipe above)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup cucumber cut into ½ inch cubes
1 bunch scallions (light green tops included), trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced on the bias
½ teaspoon coarse salt
6 large butter lettuce or Romaine leaves
For the Quinoa
Bring 2 cups cold water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan with a cover.
Stir in the quinoa, lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the little green sprouts are showing.
For the Chicken
Combine the coconut oil, za’atar, garlic, salt and pepper.
Lay the chicken on a flat surface and cover with plastic wrap. Pound the thicker ends with a meat pounder or a heavy frying pan to an even thickness.
Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken and place on a baking sheet.
Place the seasoned chicken in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Time may vary depending on the size of each breast.
Combine the lime zest and juice.
NOTE: While the chicken roasts, prepare the dressing and salad.
Remove the chicken from the oven and immediately douse with the lime juice on all sides. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.
Cut on the bias into ½-inch slices. Leave on the pan with the juices until ready to plate.
For the Dressing
Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime zest and juice, salt and cayenne in a large bowl.
FOR THE QUINOA SALAD
Add the quinoa, tomatoes, cilantro, carrot, scallions and salt to the dressing and stir to combine.
Place one lettuce on a plate and fill with a cup of the quinoa salad.
Lay a few slices of the chicken next to or over the top of the salad. Drizzle a little of the pan juice over the chicken and top with a few cilantro leaves.
Start the quinoa while you prepare the chicken. Let the quinoa cool a bit off the stovetop. Move on to the dressing, which you should make in a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients. Prepare the vegetables, add to the dressing, and thoroughly combine. Let sit at room temperature until the chicken is done.