Renee Cherkezian, RN is a nurse-turned-chef and co-founder of Epicured.

In my house growing up, we would put za’atar on just about everything. Za’atar is a traditional Middle Eastern & Mediterranean spice blend and one of my very favorite flavors. Food carts and lunch joints across the Middle East use it for labneh, a thick and tangy sheep’s milk yogurt. In Lebanon, the traditional salad of tomatoes and ripped pita called fattoush is topped with a dusting of za’atar.

The za’atar you buy in the spice shop is usually a blend of different herbs. According to Lior Lev Sercarz, the master spice blender from the spice shop La Boîte, the most traditional elements of a za’atar blend are its namesake za’atar leaves along with sumac, sesame seeds and thyme.

When creating our Za’atar Chicken, we looked all over the perfect blend. Which za’atar tasted best dry? Which za’atar tasted the best with extra virgin olive oil? Most importantly, which za’atar best complimented the chicken’s marinade of lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic infused olive oil, sumac, parsley black pepper?

I tested 7 different za'atars before finding one that met this standard. La Boîte’s blend was simply the best, hands down. The Za’atar Chicken is one of my favorite new creations. It’s healthy, fresh, and it takes me back to my childhood when I was first inspired to cook. I hope you enjoy.

The Za'atar Chicken with Quinoa Tabbouleh. Credit: Ben Fink Productions 

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