I remember the first time I ever tried Za’atar. I was in a cozy little middle eastern restaurant in Boston sharing platters of food with friends. They served us a delicate flatbread, shiny slathered in oil and beautifully decorated with purple spices, sesame seeds and herbs (this was pre-known celiac days :/).
The pungent, sour taste of the spice mix caught me off guard and I had to know what this new flavor was that I was tasting. They told me it was Za’atar a middle eastern spice blend, often made up of Sumac, thyme, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. Ever since then I have been addicted to this savory and sour tasting blend on everything from crackers and breads (paleo of course 🙂 , dips, marinades and dry rubs.
Like so many spices this blend is not short on its nutritional power, Sumac, the beautiful purple spice is rich in compounds Gallic Acid and Quercetin, giving it anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and cancer preventing abilities. Thyme has been long known for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties,fighting bacteria and fungus. As well as Oregano, which is also very high in antioxidants and has been shown to help treat many skin conditions. Some Middle Easterner’s also encourage their children to eat Za’atar believing it has brain-boosting abilities.
With the fall weather here in Colorado I love to roast whole poultry, filling the day with delicious warm scents from the oven. For a unique twist to a tradition dish, try this recipe for a little excitement in your Sunday Dinner!
Za’atar Roasted Chicken
Estimated Time: 1 hr
1 whole Chicken
1 tsp Sea Salt (may need an additional tsp if your Za’atar blend does not have salt in it)
1.5 tbsp Duck Fat ( you can use your preferred lard, this is recommended since the oven will be at a very high heat. Ghee, Avocado or Tea Tree Oil are also good alternatives)
2 tbsp Za’atar (I love my blend from Savory Spice!)
1 clove garlic
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees, yup you want it HOT!
2) Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels inside and out and set on roasting pan rack. Try to get out ask much moisture as possible from the skin to make sure it gets crispy
3) Sprinkle sea salt on outside and inside of chicken
4) Combine Fat and Za’atar in bowl to make a paste, Rub liberally under skin and over skin, covering the entire chicken
5) Place clove of Garlic inside chicken cavity and Truss your chicken (a.k.a. tie its back legs together)
6) Put chicken in the hot oven, if you have an oven-proof thermometer place in thigh of chicken now so you can easily see the temp throughout cooking
7) Now try very, very hard not to open to oven and keep the door closed for 40 minutes, making sure the skin gets nice and crispy. In this time, make your Kale and Chickpeas
8) for the last 10-15 min. I lower the temp. down to 375 to finish cooking without chance of burning the chicken. Keep in oven until temp reaches 165 degrees
9) Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Tahini Kale and Chickpeas with Grains of Paradise
Grains of Paradise are a species from the Ginger family that come from West Africa. They provide a peppery flavor, perfect as a substitute for Black Pepper.
Estimated time: 30 min
1 large bunch Kale
1 cup Chickpeas (preferably purchased dry, then soaked and sprouted from maximum digestive abilities 🙂 But you can use canned
2 tbsp Lemon juice
3 tbsp Tahini
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Grains of Paradise (ground if not already)
1 tsp minced Garlic
1) Chop Kale into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl
2) Prepare dressing; mix lemon, tahini, and coconut oil together, thin with water if necessary to easily coat kale
3) Thoroughly coat Kale with dressing, lay out in roasting dish (I used a ceramic casserole dish)
4) Place chickpeas on top of Kale in dish, sprinkle with Salt, Grains of Paradise and minced Garlic.
5) Place in Hot oven with Chicken for 20 min. Or even better if you have a toaster oven, set oven to broil at 425 and cook for 20 min. Cook until chickpeas look browned and crispy
6) Stir well, for presentation place Kale and Chickpeas on platter as bed for chicken.