Za'atar is a a condiment made of dried herbs, sesame seeds and dried sumac. It is primarily seen in Middle Eastern cooking. My first experience with Za'atar was when my mother and I went on a tour to Israel right after I completed my freshman year of high school. There were only a few young-ins like myself on this tour, but primarily the average age was 50. By no means am I implying 50 means old fart, but these people were true characters. Instead of learning their names, I simply created nicknames to refer to them in stories and gossip my mother and I would exchange throughout the trip. We had a Debbie Downer, Nervous Nancy,Woman who breast-fed child till age 6, and last but not least Crazy Cane Lady- I mean what would a trip be without a crazy cane lady? One of the more "normal" people on our tour was on a search for za'atar, which peaked my and my mother's culinary interest. After indulging in decadent, fresh, and mouth-watering Israeli cuisine, we fully appreciated and loved the unique middle-eastern flavors. After that trip we invested in bringing home some za'atar in order to create our own Israeli inspired dishes. I am, as well as my palate, thankful for that introduction to middle-eastern spices and cuisine, but probably could have done without potentially being hit by a woman angrily failing her canes while touring the exquisite sites of Israel.
Za'atar Chicken with Eggplant and Israeli Salad
- 1 eggplant
- 4-6 chicken breasts thinly cut
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 lemon
- Za'atar seasoning
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice your eggplant into 6 thin slices. Place them in a greased baking pan and season lightly with salt, pepper, and cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil. Place into the oven for about 40 minutes or until tender and lightly golden brown.
- Clean your chicken and thinly slice the breast meat. Place into a foil lined g pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil or cooking spray. Then generously coat your chicken with the za'atar seasoning, as well as some salt and pepper. Place into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the juices run clean when cutting into the chicken.
- To make the israeli salad:
- Finely dice your cucumber and tomato. Place into a bowl or container. Then add salt, pepper, parsley flakes, and garlic powder to taste. Lastly add the juice of one lemon. Allow the salad to sit and develop its flavor while the chicken and eggplant cook.
- Once all the food is ready plate your dish in layers starting bottom up with the salad, eggplant, and lastly the chicken on top.