What a delightful and tasty salad and one I enjoyed a few times. When I am trying new ingredients I often will cut a recipe in half, or even thirds, just in case I don’t like it. No problem with this recipe – the chicken was so flavorful with a za’atar/Aleppo pepper/flour mixture rubbed on the thin breasts before frying. Then the salad was topped off with a light lemony and parsley dressing. A lovely pomegranate molasses was drizzled over each salad and garnished with toasted walnuts – delicious!
Za-atar is a new spice blend for me that I have seen in a number of Middle Eastern recipes. It can mean a couple of things; a dried herb as well as an herb blend that contains it. The blend can differ from area to area but most varieties contain the za’atar herb as well as spices such as sumac, which I happen to love.
The best source for me was to go online and see what’s available. This is where it gets confusing but I chose a product from Israel. You just have to do a little research as I am certainly not an expert on this. The ingredients: hyssop (Majorana Syiriacal), sesame, Elm-leaved sumac, lemon acid and salt.
I found another version and you can see the difference between the two when you first look at them. The one from Israel definitely has more sesame seeds and the blend gave a green tint to the chicken. The Spice Way blend contains: hyssop, sesame seeds, sumac, olive oil, lemon salt and canola oil.
I’ve heard that it is much easier and better to make your own blend – I’ve added two recipes for homemade za’atar even though I have not made it before.
Another ingredient that I just love is pomegranate molasses.
Narsh which is a product of Azerbaijan contains concentrated pomegranate, sugar and salt. It has a darker color, a red tint to it, thicker and is a tad sweeter. Since the molasses was drizzled over the salad I prefer this brand with the added sugar and salt. If the molasses was mixed together with other ingredients I might use the 100% pomegranate juice – kind of depends on the recipe.
Al Wadi Al Akhdar pomegranate molasses is a Lebanese product and is 100% all natural pomegranate juice without any additions. Obviously, this is the healthier product…
This recipe comes from Christopher Kimball’s (America’s Test Kitchen) new magazine “Milk Street”.
Za-atar Chicken Cutlets and Lemon-Parsley Salad, Adapted
- 1-1/2 lbs. boneless and skinless chicken breasts; 4 cutlets pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
- kosher salt (look at your za-atar ingredients as there might be plenty of salt and you can avoid adding more)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. za’atar, divided
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 3/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper – the heat can vary (you could substitute a few pinches of paprika and cayenne)
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
- 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, plus 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, drizzled (more to taste – for this salad I preferred the Narsh brand which does have a little sugar added to it)
- 3 tbsp. walnuts, finely chopped – I toasted them; Candied Pecans or Walnuts would be delicious too!
Season the chicken liberally with kosher salt; place in a shallow baking dish. Combine 1/4 cup of za’atar, flour, and Aleppo pepper and rub into the chicken breasts.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a skillet (I used a cast iron but the author suggested using stainless steel) and add the cutlets; cook about 3 minutes per side depending on the thickness, turning once.
In a small bowl combine the parsley, scallions, lemon zest and juice, 1 tsp. olive oil and a pinch of salt; toss to coat. A really light, nice dressing…
Drizzle the molasses over the chicken, then mound the greens over the cutlets. Sprinkle with walnuts and 1 tsp. za-atar.
The Spruce Za’atar:
- 1/4 cup sumac
- 2 tbsp. thyme
- 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, roasted
- 2 tbsp. marjoram
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
Combine the above ingredients in a spice blender.
Fine Cooking Za’atar:
- 3 tbsp. dried thyme
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. ground sumac
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or marjoram
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Combine above ingredients in a spice blender.