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More Nigella recipes

Za'atar Chicken With Fattoush

by . Featured in NIGELLA SUMMER
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Introduction

This is just wonderful when you have friends over in summer, though not to be discounted for the rest of the year, either. There was a time I cooked it just about every two weeks, and it's an easy habit to get into! It’s simple: the chicken deeply spiced with za’atar, that wonderful Middle-Eastern spice blend comprising thyme, sesame seeds and ground sumac, itself a glorious blood-red berry with an intensely astringent lemony tang; the salad a fresh tangle of mint, parsley, cucumber, tomato and spring onions, crumbled with torn shards of toasted pitta and sprinkled, again, with sumac. To be entirely proper, you should throw in some leafy, herbal purslane, too, but unless you happen to live near a Middle-Eastern shop, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your hands on any, so I haven’t listed it below.

The chicken, once cooked, does go an unphotogenically dark colour, but that is divinely matched by such depth of flavour.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is just wonderful when you have friends over in summer, though not to be discounted for the rest of the year, either. There was a time I cooked it just about every two weeks, and it's an easy habit to get into! It’s simple: the chicken deeply spiced with za’atar, that wonderful Middle-Eastern spice blend comprising thyme, sesame seeds and ground sumac, itself a glorious blood-red berry with an intensely astringent lemony tang; the salad a fresh tangle of mint, parsley, cucumber, tomato and spring onions, crumbled with torn shards of toasted pitta and sprinkled, again, with sumac. To be entirely proper, you should throw in some leafy, herbal purslane, too, but unless you happen to live near a Middle-Eastern shop, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your hands on any, so I haven’t listed it below.

The chicken, once cooked, does go an unphotogenically dark colour, but that is divinely matched by such depth of flavour.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Za'atar Chicken with Fattoush
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 6

Metric Cups
  • 125 millilitres olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 chicken (approx. 2–2.25kg/3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons zaatar
  • Maldon salt

FOR THE FATTOUSH

  • 2 pitta breads
  • 3 fat spring onions (halved and sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, quartered lengthwise and chopped)
  • 3 tomatoes (diced)
  • bunch flatleaf parsley (chopped)
  • bunch fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 6- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Maldon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • ½ cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 chicken (approx. 2–2.25kg/3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons zaatar
  • sea salt flakes

FOR THE FATTOUSH

  • 2 pita breads
  • 3 fat scallions (halved and sliced)
  • 1 cucumber (peeled, quartered lengthwise and chopped)
  • 3 tomatoes (diced)
  • bunch Italian parsley (chopped)
  • bunch fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 6- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sumac

Method

  1. Pour the 125ml/½ cup oil into a large roasting tin, big enough to fit all the chicken portions in a single layer, and then put in the chicken portions, rubbing them about in the oil to give them a glossy coating. Sprinkle over the za’atar, and then work into the oily skin of the chicken so that each piece is well covered with the bosky, bark-coloured spices. Leave the meat to marinate for up to 2 hours at cool room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/425℉/gas mark 8 and, when the chicken’s had its aromatic steeping time, transfer the tin, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up, to the oven.
  3. Roast the chicken portions for about 45 minutes, by which time they should be well cooked, which is how we want them here, and their spice-sprinkled skin burnished and crisp and baked to a fabulous burnt umber. Pile the pieces up, or arrange them as you like on a large flat plate and sprinkle over a little Maldon salt.
  4. When the chicken’s nearly cooked, you can get on with the fattoush. So, cut the pitta breads open lengthways so that you have four very thin halves, and lay them on a baking sheet. Toast them in the oven with the chicken for about 5 minutes to give them a bit of crunch then take them out and leave them somewhere to cool.
  5. In a bowl, combine the spring onions, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and mint and mince in the garlic. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the pitta into pieces over the bowl of salad – I tend to snip them into rough triangles – and drop them in, leaving a few back for the top. Toss the salad then dress it with the oil and lemon juice, tossing it again. Add some Maldon salt, and have a quick taste to see if the ratio of oil and lemon is right, adding more of either if necessary. Sprinkle over the reserved toasted pitta triangles and the lovely dark red, deeply bitter sumac, and serve the fattoush right alongside the za’atar chicken.
  1. Pour the 125ml/½ cup oil into a large roasting tin, big enough to fit all the chicken portions in a single layer, and then put in the chicken portions, rubbing them about in the oil to give them a glossy coating. Sprinkle over the za’atar, and then work into the oily skin of the chicken so that each piece is well covered with the bosky, bark-coloured spices. Leave the meat to marinate for up to 2 hours at cool room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/425℉/gas mark 8 and, when the chicken’s had its aromatic steeping time, transfer the tin, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up, to the oven.
  3. Roast the chicken portions for about 45 minutes, by which time they should be well cooked, which is how we want them here, and their spice-sprinkled skin burnished and crisp and baked to a fabulous burnt umber. Pile the pieces up, or arrange them as you like on a large flat plate and sprinkle over a little sea salt flakes.
  4. When the chicken’s nearly cooked, you can get on with the fattoush. So, cut the pita breads open lengthways so that you have four very thin halves, and lay them on a baking sheet. Toast them in the oven with the chicken for about 5 minutes to give them a bit of crunch then take them out and leave them somewhere to cool.
  5. In a bowl, combine the scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and mint and mince in the garlic. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the pitta into pieces over the bowl of salad – I tend to snip them into rough triangles – and drop them in, leaving a few back for the top. Toss the salad then dress it with the oil and lemon juice, tossing it again. Add some sea salt flakes, and have a quick taste to see if the ratio of oil and lemon is right, adding more of either if necessary. Sprinkle over the reserved toasted pitta triangles and the lovely dark red, deeply bitter sumac, and serve the fattoush right alongside the za’atar chicken.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD/ STORE:
The chicken can be marinated overnight in a covered dish in the fridge. Let the chicken come to cool room temperature before you put it in the oven.
Leftover chicken should be refrigerated as soon as possible (and within 2 hours of cooking) and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Eat cold.

MAKE AHEAD/ STORE:
The chicken can be marinated overnight in a covered dish in the fridge. Let the chicken come to cool room temperature before you put it in the oven.
Leftover chicken should be refrigerated as soon as possible (and within 2 hours of cooking) and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Eat cold.

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What 3 Others have said

  • Out standing! My chicken was not as dark as yours, I am wondering if it is because of the brand I bought here in CA. It was so very tender and had the most delicious flavor. I will be making it again. Thanks Nigella, I love your recipes.

    Posted by Maryvirginia on 13th September 2022
  • Just made the za'atar chicken using chicken thighs rather than cutting up a chicken, made it even quicker and easier to do and the result was so good I can see why it is a favourite

    Posted by JaneKathryn on 16th August 2022
  • This one of my all time favorites from Nigella. The za’atar is so woodsy and sour, and the salad is so refreshing. When it’s too hot to roast, I marinate chicken breasts in oil, lemon, and garlic, coat the meat in the za’atar, and then throw them on the grill. Either way, this meal is perfect, and I will never stop making it. The Lemon Tendercake (from At My Table) is a wonderful way to finish off the evening!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 14th August 2022
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