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.
Serve our as a delicious accompaniment Here’s a great accompaniment for this dish, Spelt Flatbread and Roasted Spiced Carrot Purée, a spread of carrot puree over flatbread, topped with crumbled feta cheese, crushed pistachios and a drizzle of cilantro oil.
Watch the Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad Video Here
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.
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.
I was recently confronted with an abundance of multi-colored bell peppers. Peppers are a funny ingredient. Unlike zucchini, another prolific crop, which is easily turned into quick breads and muffins, fritters and casseroles, peppers are rarely the star of the dish.
Think sausage with peppers and onions, fajitas come with sautéed peppers and there are so many recipes that call for peppers to be chopped or diced and added to other aromatics such as onions, garlic, celery and/or carrots as the foundation of a recipe. The only time they stand on their own is as a shell for stuffing. And this is where it gets interesting.
There are so many different ingredients to choose from. Ground meat of any type is suitable and also optional. There are a multitude of grains and beans to choose from. Add chopped vegetables and herbs and moisten with a sauce and top off with some crumbled or shredded cheese and you have a delicious entrée.
Watch the Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers Video Here.
Along with the peppers, I also had a few eggplants and decided to go with a Greek-style stuffed pepper. Start by sautéing some ground lamb and diced onion with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic, oregano and just a bit of cinnamon. To keep it moist, I added a thawed pint of tomato sauce I’d made earlier in the season. Cube the eggplant and toss in couple of cups along with more of those bell peppers cut into small pieces. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. To finish in a traditional Greek style stir in chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta cheese.
While the sauce simmers, slice off the tops and remove the core, seeds and membrane and season the insides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.
I intended to freeze the stuffed peppers in batches for future use and needed to
partially cook the yellow bell peppers that would house the filling. The pre-cooking step deactivates the ripening enzymes to ensure that the peppers retain their color, shape and flavor.
Place the prepared bell peppers upright in a baking dish. and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Pop in the microwave on high for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. Stuff each shell with the filling.
Use the abundance of vegetables at the farmers’ market to make these delicious and eye-appealing Greek-style stuffed peppers with lamb or to keep it vegan, use a grain such as orzo or quinoa in lieu of the lamb. Keep it colorful and use a variety of colors!
Here’s another video from our mini grilled chicken series featuring grilled boneless chicken thighs.
When the bone is removed from the thigh, the meat is thin and cooking time is quick. Yet, the thighs retain some fat and remain moist. The flavorful meat is good with only salt and pepper and a little oil to prevent sticking. Also try different marinades and rubs.
I like to use the grilled boneless chicken thighs in sandwiches. Choose a nice bun or good bread and use your favorite condiment(s), pile on the lettuce and tomatoes and a few slices of dill pickle. The perfect sandwich!
A great sandwich spread is pesto – check out my recipe here.
Tune in to Honeypie’s Recipes YouTube Channel to view the Grilled Chicken Mini Series playlist!
Watch the Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs Video Here
This quick marinade tip was a fluke. Many years ago I was making Rosh Hannah dinner. One cousin doesn’t care for red meat and won’t eat the brisket, so I make something else as a second entrée. One year I was running behind and needed something quick. I grilled chicken and as soon as the chicken came in to rest I poured an herbed lemon juice over the chicken.
The resting time allows the denatured proteins to coagulate again and when they do, they trap this flavorful liquid.
My cousin and her husband loved the dish and she asked for the recipe. When I told her what I did, she didn’t believe me. It was too simple for something that tasted that good!
I sautéed these chicken breasts recently and added a generous splash of wine (rosé was open, red or white is fine – is just a splash) and deglazed the pan. The delicious brown tidbits in the bottom of the pan dissolve with the liquid in seconds. I poured this over the chicken and then the lemon marinade above.
You can do this, too. Simply juice a lemon, throw in some thyme sprigs, a smashed clove of garlic and toss these together. Pour this over the chicken after cooking and let rest for 5 minutes. Use lime juice and garlic – sprinkle with chopped cilantro for something different. Combinations are endless.
Next up in our mini course on cooking chicken: Grilled Bone-in Chicken Thighs!
Whenever cooking meat or poultry with the bone on, the cooking time takes a little longer. The bone can be in the center or perimeter and location also affects cooking time. Center bones take longer to reach and the meat near the bone is the last to cook because the bone holds the cold longer.
The best alternative on the grill for cooking anything with a bone is to start with direct heat and then move to the other side of the grill and finish on indirect heat. This keeps the outer meat moist and slowly lets the heat permeate throughout.
Chicken thighs have more fat than the breast, so if you overcook a little, it’s a bit forgiving. Use marinades, rubs or just plain old salt and pepper with a little olive oil. Use a favorite marinade or rub at least 30 minutes, preferably a few hours before cooking.
Fire up the grill and get started on your grilled bone-in chicken thighs tonight!
Here’s another video in our mini course on chicken: grilled boneless chicken breast. Pound the breast with a meat pounder or heavy bottomed skillet to an even thickness. Use your favorite marinade, rub or merely sprinkle with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
A grilled boneless chicken breast cooks quickly. Close the grill for the first few minutes. Gently pull the chicken away from the grate. If it doesn’t release easily, let it cook a minute or two more. The chicken is ready to turn when it releases easily, forcing only rips the meat.
Flip the chicken breast and continue cooking for a couple minutes more with the cover closed. Use a thermometer to get an internal temperature; 165 degrees F is considered safe. Don’t forget to let them rest for 3-4 minutes!
These quick and easy grilled boneless chicken breasts are moist and flavorful.
Watch the Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast video Here.
Skirt steak is a versatile and flavorful working muscle. This steak is a quick and easy meat to prepare and cook. Avoid overcooking as it becomes very tough and dry.
Light the grill in advance so it’s nice and hot. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Not too much or the flames flare up. Or use your favorite marinade or rub.
Cut with the Grain for Fajitas and Stir Frying
This steak is also great to use for fajitas, and an excellent choice for a stir fry. I know it goes against custom, but for these recipes, cutting with the grain results in tender pieces that are easier to bite into. To make fajitas, season, grill and rest for 5 minutes. Slice with the grain for easier chewing. Cut the skirt steak with the grain raw before quickly browning in the wok.
Check out our grilled onion recipe. Great as a side with the grilled steak or as a component of fajitas.
Ribeye steaks are tender and tasty. Salt and pepper are all that’s needed to properly season with a brush of oil to prevent sticking. Not too much or the flames flare up.
Heat the grill about 15 minutes before cooking. You want a hot grill. Keep the lid open if the steaks are thin (about 1-inch thick or less). They cook too fast with the lid closed and don’t get the nice sear marks that provide so much flavor.
Toss a couple of steaks on the grill and while they’re resting, grill some corn.
Double-thick pork chops marinated in fig vinegar, olive oil, dried sage, salt and pepper. Pop them on the grill and cook until slightly pink in the center and mouthwateringly moist and tender. And, we have some suggestions of what to serve on the side!
These pork chops are thick and need both direct and indirect heat. Turn on the grill about 15 minutes before cooking. Start over the direct heat to sear and color the chops on both sides, then move to the indirect heat an dturn the direct heat to low. The ideal grill temperature is 300 degrees F.
Cook until the internal temperature is 140 degrees F; let rest for 5 minutes. Serve whole or sliced. These pork chops are slightly pink inside and very juicy!
Make a grilled butterflied leg of lamb as the perfect summer get-to-together meal! Use any rub or marinade to flavor and let sit at least four hours or overnight. I checked my pantry to look for marinades that got pushed to the back and were forgotten. I found a Stonewall Kitchen pineapple ginger sauce that was perfect. It’s always nice to have some on hand – we don’t always feel like making everything from scratch!
If the lamb is large and unwieldy, use the natural lines of the meat to help you cut it into parts. Each piece has a different thickness and needs different cooking times. Separating the leg also has the advantage of cooking pieces to different internal temperatures. Satisfy your family and guests with slices that are medium rare, medium and well done.
Start with direct heat to sear the outside. Once you have a nicely browned and crispy outside, move to the indirect heat. Close the cover and continue cooking at about 300 degrees F. Optimal internal temperature is 135 degrees F for medium rare.
Serve this delicious lamb with our summer vegetable medley. A combination of eggplant, zucchini, baby bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. A little shredded cheese, such as mozzarella or feta complete the dish.
We have filmed a number of grilling videos including several on chicken.This video on grilled bone-in chicken breast is one of five videos in our grilling chicken playlist. Watch here.
Any time you cook meat or poultry with the bone in and skin on, it takes a little longer. The benefit of cooking this way is a more succulent and juicier chicken . If you have the time, it’s definitely a worth it.
Seasoning can be minimal, simply salt and pepper with a drizzle of oil to prevent sticking. Not to much or flames flare up. Use a marinade, homemade or store bought, or a rub. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat the grill about 15 minutes before cooking. Use direct heat first to sear the skin, then move to indirect heat to slowly finish.
Serve with a delicious macaroni salad and eat out on the picnic table or the porch!