Za’atar Chicken with Green Lentils
Chicken is never boring when seasoned right and cooked until it is fall-off-the-bone tender. Za’atar Chicken with Green Lentils brings the flavor and the extra hit of plant protein. The secret weapon seasoning here is za’atar.
If you’ve never heard of za’atar, don’t feel left out. I had not heard of it either until a few years ago. A friend gifted me with a jar of it upon her return from a trip to Israel. Za’atar is a blend of herbs and spices commonly used in the Levant or eastern Mediterranean area. Countries like Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey use it liberally in their cuisines.
The herb and spice blend usually contains hyssop (also called za’atar), marjoram, oregano, roasted sesame seeds, salt, and thyme. Sometimes coriander, cumin, orange peel, or sumac is added. Because home cooks have their own recipe blends of za’atar, the mix can differ from region to region.
What does it taste like? Think: herby, nutty, woodsy, and zesty. You can sprinkle it on everything including bread, dips, eggs, fish, hummus, meats, poultry, salads, and vegetables.
While you can certainly put together your own za’atar blend, there are many options to purchase it in spice shops, well-stocked grocery stores, and online. Or have a well-traveled friend bring some home to you from their trip.
It is the star seasoning in this chicken recipe and is complemented by earthy green lentils.
Green Lentils versus Puy Lentils
So, are you at the store and unable to decide between green lentils and French Puy lentils? They are both green. What’s the difference?
We’ve discussed lentils previously. There are many colors and they each cook up differently. Green lentils are similar to brown ones in that they are great adds to soup, grains, and meat dishes where they get soft but don’t turn to mush.
French Puy lentils are a type of green lentil. They are smaller and darker than regular green lentils. And like your favorite type-A person, they are peppery, have thicker skin, and don’t get mushy in hot water.
Puy lentils take longer to cook than green ones so normally you don’t want to substitute one for the other. For this recipe, however, you can use either kind because this dish has a 50-minute cook time.
- If you want your finished dish to be saucier, add an additional cup of chicken broth before the long cooking time.
- My family isn’t crazy about green olives, so I only used half a cup. But if you like them, use a full cup.
- I think this dish would benefit from a last-minute garnish of something acidic like chopped preserved lemon. You can make your own!
Many thanks to Better Homes and Gardens for the za’atar chicken and lentils recipe.Print
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 Tbsp za’atar seasoning
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup green lentils
- ½ cup pitted green olives
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle za’atar evenly on both sides of the chicken.
- Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, then add chicken. Allow chicken to brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, then remove to a plate.
- Lower the heat to medium and add onions and carrots to the pan. Saute until they are lightly brown, then add the garlic and stir together. Tip in the broth and tomato paste and stir to combine. Dump in the lentils and green olives.
- Nestle the chicken pieces into the onion and lentil mixture. Bring the pan to a simmer and cover it.
- Now, you can either allow the chicken to continue to cook on the stovetop at medium-low heat for 50 minutes or transfer it to the oven to braise for 50 minutes at 325F/162C. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over Israeli couscous or rice.
Keywords: za'atar chicken with green lentils