Za’atar Chicken & Pasta Salad
Za’atar is a spice blend found in many Middle Eastern dishes & is uniquely earthy, savory & extremely aromatic. This dish I created is very popular at my house. I mostly serve it in the spring, summer & early fall months, as it is at it’s best when served barely warm or at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups tri-colored penne pasta
3/4 lb chicken tenderloins, preferably organic
2 1/2 Tblsp Za’atar spice blend (divided) (see Tip#1)
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil – EVOO (divided)
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then sliced thick
1 large firm tomato, diced large
1/2 – 15 oz can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed well under cold water & drained
1/2 cup hummus (see Tip# 2)
1/4 cup large pitted black olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 1/2 tsp dried (optional: a little extra for garnish)
1. Cook pasta in salted water according to pkg directions, al dente. Drain, return to pot & set aside.
2. On a plate; mix 2 Tblsp Za’atar, 1 tsp salt & 20 pepper mill turns of pepper, coat pieces of chicken on both sides & set aside.
3. Line a plate with a few of layers of paper towels.
4. Preheat 2 Tblsp EVOO in a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet, on medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes till oil is hot.
5. Add chicken to skillet, side by side, cover & cook 2 to 3 minutes each side (depending on size) till chicken is browned & cooked through. Remove to drain on the paper towels.
6. Add 1 Tblsp EVOO to skillet to deglaze it. Add zucchini & cook, covered on medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring once or twice, till starting to brown.
7. Remove from heat, gently add tomato, cover & let sit 1 minute (no longer or the tomatoes will get mushy).
8. Pour zucchini tomato mix & all the pan drippings over the cooked pasta. Add in the last 1/2 Tblsp Za’atar, garbanzos, hummus, olives & parsley. Stir gently till well combined.
9. Serve pasta with pieces of chicken on top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
Tips & Suggestions
1. If you can’t find Za’atar locally in one of your larger supermarkets or certain specialty stores, you can order it online. You can also make your own Za’atar spice blend from scratch, just run a search on the internet & you’ll find loads of variations of this spice blend to pick from.
2. I like to use Sabra Spinach Artichoke Hummus, but you can certainly use whatever brand or flavor you like.