Za'atar Chicken Salad w/ Feta Dressing

This just became my new favorite way to season chicken breast. It's perfect. The za'atar is what makes it. The za-who? It's a Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds and a touch of salt. The herbs used are usually a kind of thyme native to the region, savory (that's an actual herb, not a flavor description) and sumac. 

It's a little tangy, a little salty and a lot delicious.

Traditionally, it is mixed with oil and spread on a flatbread before being baked or it's served on labneh, a kefir cheese with healthy probiotics (here's my easy recipe for labneh). I decided to put it on chicken breast and I'm so happy I did.

Also, I made a really tasty feta dressing that goes with almost anything. Use it like you would use ranch, except it tastes better and is also healthy. Win win.

Ok, you need this stuff to make the feta dressing:

 The Sadaf yogurt seasoning mix is only $2-3 and it's a pretty big packet. Amazing herb mix, very authentic. I got mine from a Middle Eastern market. They sell it online too. You can use it to season meat and veggies too, not just yogurt.

If it's too much of a hassle just use dried or fresh mint, basil and tarragon. As well as garlic and onion powder. If you have dried rose buds, add them too. If you don't, no biggie.

So, I used half of the block of feta. I just crumbled it into a food processor. You can use a blender too. Or your hands if you like to get down and dirty. Except it really won't be effective, just gross. But it's your life.

Add 3/4 cup of yogurt. Use any kind of plain yogurt you like. 

Don't let the world tell you which yogurt you should use!

A drizzle of olive oil.

*A heaping spoonful* of the herb and spice mix.

A drizzle of honey. (I didn't include honey in the ingredient photo but after tasting the dressing I felt like it needed honey to cut through all the tartness). 

You won't taste the honey, it just balances the whole thing out.

And then it was perfect.

Pour it in a container and let it chill in the fridge.

If you know you're making this recipe in advance, I recommend making the dressing at least a few hours ahead because it tastes so much better after it has had time to sit.

Now, on to the chicken.

Take the time to place your chicken breast between plastic wrap and pound the shit out of it until it is uniform in thickness. It will cook more evenly, quicker and it will be juicier all around. 

It's also very good therapy.

Add a litte salt and pepper on each side.

Now grab your za'atar.

If you're new to za'atar just buy the smallest size they have at the Middle Eastern market. No need to make a major commitment here. It's just a fun new spice blend to try.

They also sell it online from many different brands. Google za'atar and go with a brand (or price) that you like.

I was surprised to find how common za'atar is becoming. Get into it now so you can turn your nose up when someone mentions it to you. "Oh, za'atar, I've had some in my kitchen cabinet since 2014. It's practically vintage now." 

Then everyone will think your so fancy.

Sprinkle it on both sides of the chicken and add it to a hot pan with a drizzle of oil.

You wanna hear a sizzle as soon as the chicken hits the oil. If you don't, the pan isn't hot enough.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Once cooked, place the chicken on a plate or cutting board and begin making the salad.

This is what you need:

Chop everything thusly:

Add everything to a bowl, break out the feta dressing, drizzle some on and toss the salad.

Slice up the chicken and serve warm on top of the salad.

 The chicken is so juicy and flavorful. 

The chicken and the salad on their own are solid. Together, they are the perfect balance.

You must try this.

 

RECIPE

For Za'atar Chicken:

1 chicken breast, pounded flat
1 tbsp za'atar, or enough to lightly coat the chicken breast (za'atar can be found online or in Middle Eastern markets)
1 tbsp olive oil
S&P, to taste

For Salad:

head of romaine, rinsed and chopped
half a red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
half a hothouse cucumber, or one Persian cucumber
fresh mint, chopped

For Dressing:

half a block of feta
3/4 cup plain yogurt
juice of a lemon
1 tbsp (or more to taste) olive oil
1 tbsp Sadaf brand yogurt dip seasoning mix (buy online or at Middle Eastern market for about $3 or make your own with dried mint, basil, tarragon, dried rosebuds and granulated onion & garlic)
drizzle of honey
black pepper, freshly cracked if possible

For Dressing:

Combine all the ingredients into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth.

Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Set aside or chill in fridge.

For Za'atar Chicken:

Pound the chicken breast flat with a rolling pin or other heavy item.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan.

Season flattened chicken breast with a touch of S&P and a dusting of za'atar.

Once pan is hot add the chicken and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until nicely browned and cooked through.

Set the chicken aside and assemble the salad.

For Salad:

Place lettuce, onions, cucumbers and mint into a bowl.

Drizzle on as much feta dressing as you like.

Toss the salad and top with the za'atar chicken.

Dig in!