Thursday, April 12, 2012

Za'atar Chicken

Za'atar... pronounced ZAH-tuh, is an Arabic spice we use a lot in our Lebanese cooking. It's the grittiest, best, punch in your face blend of thyme, sumac and sesame seed. The typical thing to do with it is to mix it with a little extra virgin olive oil and paste it on some pita bread and bake it... which is also EXTREMELY delicious. But it can also be used for seasoning steak, chicken, pastas, whatever, as long as you're up for a taste sensation. Za'atar is not for the faint of heart when it comes to seasoning. It's a powerful little blend, but when used well, it'll take your taste buds on a magical carpet ride through the Middle East. (well the kitchens of the middle east, not the scary parts)

James and I just bought our very first GRILL and we are SO excited about it! We've had in for three nights and used it for two dinners already. It's already become my new best friend. Am I going to abandon my station at the stove?? Absolutely not! I wouldn't dare! The French don't use grills, do they? But, I REALLY love that James has decided to man HIS station at the grill. Already it's added another element of flavor to our cooking and we love love love it. So yeah, we did the American thing once already and made burgers to christen our new baby, but last night we decided to go Lebanese and make a sort of typical 'plate' that you'd find at a middle eastern restaurant: Grilled chicken, seasoned with za'atar over a bed of noodles, hummus and lots of fresh garlic. (if you're gonna make this dish, i highly suggest you click that link just above and use our family hummus recipe) Watch out, grill world... we're going Lebanese style!

For two, you'll need:
  • 2 chicken breasts thawed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • whole wheat noodles, brown rice OR Lebanese rice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 roma tomato
  • fresh hummus (make it at home, i PROMISE it's better than TJ's or Sabra brand)
  • Za'atar (find this at an arabic grocery or even at Whole Foods) Here's what it looks like:

Drizzle a baking dish with olive oil.
 Sprinkle in a healthy amount of za'atar.
Place your thawed chicken breasts on the oil za'atar mixture and top with more of the same, olive oil and more za'atar. Don't be shy with the olive oil, we're making a marinade here.
 Juice one whole lemon and pour it over the chicken.
Now we're gonna let this whole thing marinate for about 20 minutes.
 Now have your grill master grill it up just 'til finished! It should still be juicy inside, don't kill it.
Meanwhile, dice your tomato, get out your garlic cloves, cook your noodles and make your hummus, unless it's already made, which would be handy considering the chicken should only take about 15 minutes and you've gotta use 9 of those minutes for cooking noodles.
Now, your chicken should be done and perfect! Honey, it seriously was PERFECT... well done, you barbie master you. ;)
Now let's assemble the beautiful dish... start with your noodles. Make a pretty bed out of them.
Dollop out a generous amount of hummus and spread it around with the back of your spoon.
Mince two of your garlic cloves and sprinkle on top of the hummus.
 Add half your diced tomatoes to the top of that.
Looking pretty, right? :) Now drizzle all over with olive oil... the only thing that's gonna make those noodles go down is olive oil and hummus.
 Now slice your chicken breasts and place them on top of the pretty bed you just made. Lightly drizzle a little more olive oil on for looks and some salt and pepper to taste. Voila!
 Go ahead! Be adventurous! Buy something weird that you've never heard of at the weird, sketchy grocery (or whole foods) and get your creative juices flowing! It might just be your new favorite "ethnic party night" dish (does anyone else have those like I do? haha) and you may just be haled as the new savior from boring, old dishes! James and I loved it, and I believe you will too if you let yourself go a little bit. :) Welcome to a new world of taste.

Happy eating and happy Thursday. ;)


1 comment:

  1. Now I'm very hungry! Since MY new diet, I've been exploring the world of "fish" - but that chicken on the grill with the zahtar...the garlic, the pasta, the olive oil...OMG...I'm uncovering the grill tonight! Email me and tell me what grill you decided to buy (finally)'s a great looking dish and I'm glad the website is back in the's part of my morning reading. love you!