Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing

A salad with a difference! This Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing is packed full of Middle Eastern flavours. Who wouldn’t want this for lunch?!

 Za’atar, zaatar or zatar?

I’ve seen this delicious Middle Eastern spice blend spelt a number of different ways! I’m not sure which is the ‘correct’ spelling, but I have opted for za’atar. But what is za’atar? It is a mix of sumac, sesame seeds and dried herbs such as oregano and thyme. 

It is quite readily available. I have seen it in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s but you may also be able to find it in the ethnic food aisle in other supermarkets. 

I’d like an exotic salad please

That is what one of my lovely friends said to me when I asked her what she would like for lunch when she came over. Oh and that she would like some chicken to be involved. So my brief was an exotic salad with chicken. Exotic can mean different things to different people so there wasn’t just one direction to go in!

After I worked out I was going to use za’atar, I used my organic veg box for inspiration and came up with this Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out to be completely honest. I was really pleased with it and what is even better; my friend Abi loved it.

Salads don’t have to include lettuce

I don’t know about you, but growing up a salad always seemed to have lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber. I’m not knocking these in a salad, but not all salads have to have these. Don’t worry you definitely won’t miss the lettuce in this Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing. Couscous is a fantastic ingredient to add to a salad because it helps to bulk out and keep you fuller for longer. 

I chose to use carrots and courgettes because they came in my veg box this week and because they are in season. I got some lovely young carrot with their tops still on. These didn’t need peeling, just a quick wash so you don’t necessarily have to peel your carrots. You can definitely change these vegetables to what you have in your fridge or what is in season. 

 

Don’t miss out the tahini dressing! 

I’ll let you in on a little secret; this was my first time using tahini! If you didn’t already know, tahini is made from sesame seeds. This made it the perfect ingredient to use in a dressing to combine the flavours from the za’atar. I then kept playing with the flavours until I had the perfect dressing (that is after making it a little too lemony at first!).  

This recipe makes enough tahini dressing for two generous portions. If you’re anything like us, you’ll start off with a modest drizzle and keep adding more and more! I would recommend making the quantity below and if you happen to have any left over it would be great on salad or drizzled over vegetables. 

Vegetarian alternative

If unlike Abi you don’t want chicken, you can easily make this Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing vegetarian! Instead of chicken, some grilled halloumi would work really well. The halloumi would work just as well with the za’atar as it does with the chicken. I used the flavour combination before in my Roasted Halloumi & Za’atar Tray Bake

5 from 5 votes
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Za'atar Chicken & Cous Cous Salad with Tahini Dressing

Course Salad
Cuisine International, Middle Eastern
Keyword Chicken, Salad, Za'atar, Couscous
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 60 days
Servings 2
Calories 669 kcal
Author Curly

Ingredients

For the vegetables

  • 250 g carrots
  • 1 courgette (approx 250g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Za'atar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

For the couscous

  • 100 g couscous
  • 160 ml boiled water
  • ½ tsp concentrated chicken stock
  • ½ tsp olive oil

For the chicken

  • 1 chicken breast (approx 200g)
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp Za'atar
  • pinch sea salt

For the tahini dressing

  • 40 g tahini
  • 30 ml lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (fan assisted, 200°c non fan)

  2. Peel the carrots if needed and cut them however you like so they are approx 1cm thick. Cut the courgettes into roughly the same thickness and add them all to a large bowl

  3. Add the olive oil, Za'atar and salt to the bowl with the carrots and courgettes. Mix thoroughly to make sure the vegetables are evenly coated

  4. Tip the vegetables onto a baking tray so they are on one layer. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning over every 10 minutes

  5. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the rest of the salad

  6. Prepare the chicken by adding it to a bowl. Add the oil, Za'atar and salt and mix until the chicken is completely coated

  7. Heat a pan over a medium high heat and cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side until cooked though. Remove from the pan and leave to one side

  8. Make the dressing by adding the tahini, lemon juice, water, honey, olive oil and salt to a jar. Put the lid on and shake until it is mixed

  9. Assemble the salad by stirring the couscous through with a fork and adding it to a plate. Top the couscous with the roasted carrot and courgette. Slice the chicken and add it to the salad before drizzling with the dressing

Recipe Notes

If you do not have a griddle pan or you would prefer to cook it in the oven you definitely can. I'd put it in with the vegetables and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. 

Nutritional information is given as a guide only.

Nutrition Facts
Za'atar Chicken & Cous Cous Salad with Tahini Dressing
Amount Per Serving
Calories 669 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 48%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 531mg 22%
Potassium 1249mg 36%
Total Carbohydrates 64g 21%
Dietary Fiber 9g 36%
Sugars 12g
Protein 37g 74%
Vitamin A 424.5%
Vitamin C 41.7%
Calcium 15.9%
Iron 34.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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10 thoughts on “Za’atar Chicken & Couscous Salad with Tahini Dressing

  1. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder


    I’ll take this salad for lunch any day of the week! I love lettuce free salads with a substance and this one sounds delicious. I’m a huge fan of tahini and use it all the time and your dressing sounds really good. I always find that couscous needs a bit of a sauce or a dressing as it can be on a dry side. Such a yummy feast!

    Reply
    1. Curly Post author

      Thanks Jo. I have a feeling I’ll be using tahini a lot more now! It definitely does, plain couscous can be very dry!

      Reply
  2. Monika Dabrowski


    I agree that salads don’t have to include lettuce, especially ones that can also work as stand alone meals, such as this gorgeous salad. Love your tahini dressing too! Thank you for bringing this tasty dish to #CookBlogShare

    Reply
  3. sylvie


    I love the Middle Eastern flavours of this dish, such a great combination of yummy ingredients! I love za’atar on everything but have never tried it on chicken – cannot wait to give this a go 🙂

    Reply

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