Roasted Za’atar Chicken and Quinoa Salad

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.




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

Quinoa Salad

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

Cilantro 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.


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.