Bellissima Eats: Zaatar Chicken and Tahini Roasted Vegetables

Isabella Giammalva, Contributing Writer

I love this dish for many reasons. One, as fancy as this picture may look, the recipe is relatively simple. The key to making this meal delicious is the high temperature of your oven. The caramelized and slightly charred flavors from roasting these vegetables add great flavor. Additionally, living in a small college apartment with an even smaller kitchen has changed how I cook. I am a one-woman show, and cooking and cleaning an elaborate meal can feel exhausting. Therefore this leads me to reason two; this is pretty much a one-sheet meal. The vegetables all have relatively similar cook times, and the only other thing you have to cook is the chicken. If you are feeling particularly lazy, you could even bake the chicken and the vegetables together. However, what takes this meal from roasted vegetables and chicken to something a little more special are two things; the sauce and za’atar. 

When I started cooking, I would always compare my meals to the food you could order at a restaurant. One thing that always stood out at a restaurant was that your meal always came with a sauce. Whether it is an elaborate infused sauce or a simple lemon and butter sauce, your meal had that extra flavor different from any dinner you make at home. The tahini sauce in this recipe is simple. However, it acts almost like a dipping sauce. With each bite, you dip your chicken or vegetable into the lemony and nutty sauce, and your meal becomes a little more fancy and unique. Another reason I love this sauce is that it’s super simple to make. There is no blending involved, and you can eat it right out of the bowl in which you make it. Lastly, the main inspiration for this meal was the za’atar. I recently went to local business Martha’s on Madison looking for inspiration for my next dinner. I had coincidentally just watched a Bon Appetit Youtube video where each recipe developer discussed one ingredient that can take a meal to the next level. One of the recipe developers stated that za’atar was their go-to ingredient to zhuzh up any meal. Therefore, I had to buy it when I saw the spice blend za’atar at MOMs. Each element in this meal, besides the sauce, has za’atar. Za’atar is both nutty and lemony and adds a Mediterranean flavor to your simple college dinner in your slightly gross kitchen. I cannot recommend the spice enough, and I highly recommend you make this dinner! One last thing – if you do not finish your vegetables, you can always add them to a salad or rice the next day for another simple but delicious meal. 

 

RECIPE: Zaatar Chicken and Roasted Vegetables with a Tahini Sauce

INGREDIENTS: Serves 2/3 ppl

– 2-3 chicken breast 

– 1 cauliflower cut into medium florets

– 1 large red onion cut into 1 inch thick chunks

– 10-15 carrots (if your carrots are super thick you can cut them in half)

– 2 persian cucumbers thinly sliced

– ¼ cup za’atar seasoning 

– 2 tbsp tahini 

– 2 tbsp greek yogurt

– 1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar 

– juice ½ lemon

– salt and pepper

Vegetables: preheat oven to 425F

Step 1: In a sheet pan (you might need 2), add cauliflower florets, onion chunks, and carrots. Toss vegetables in 2 tbsp zaatar seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil until well coated. 

Step 2: Roast vegetables for 30-40 mins until they are lightly charred. The onions might be ready before then so take them out if they start to burn. 

Cucumbers:

Step 1: Toss sliced cucumbers in red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Step 2: When plating, mix the roasted vegetables with the cucumbers. 

 

Chicken:

Step 1: Lightly coat chicken breast in 1 tbsp zaatar seasoning, salt, pepper, and 2-3 tbsp olive oil.

Step 2: Heat up a non-stick skillet. Once the pan is hot, place down the chicken and cook on each side for 4-6 minutes. If you have thick pieces of chicken you can cover them with a lid or place them in the oven at 350 for 3-5 minutes. 

Tahini sauce:

Step 1: Mix together the tahini, greek yogurt, juice of ½ lemon, and ¼ tsp salt. Once fully mixed and the sauce has become thick, slowly add water 1 tbsp at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Step 2: Drizzle the tahini sauce all over your bowl and enjoy!