Sometimes, simple is better. I had planned out an elaborate dinner to celebrate my cousin’s visit (complete with a thorough pre-visit house cleaning). A text asking if friday night would work instead chimed on my phone, and without hesitation I said “Sure!” Yes, I could have scrambled around hurriedly, but instead, I went with simple. I already had this recipe, which I was dying to try.
I’d picked up Zaatar, along with a cut up chicken, earlier in the day. I had tomatoes that were ripe and a bunch of organic parsley that I got because it was only 98 cents for the bunch (I love parsley). I had mint that I’d bought that day that absolutely had to be used because if you don’t use mint right away it gets really gross. Some organic lemons in the fridge that my friend K had given me off her tree a while ago. [Here’s the trick to storing lemons – although I don’t use a jar, I use a heavy duty ziploc bag]
So what is Zaatar? Its an herb blend the likes of which are similar to Herbes de Provence in that there are many variations. Oh, and everyone thinks theirs is the best. I didn’t want to make my own to start with, so I bought a mix. The classic ingredients are thyme, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. You can go on from there and add other things as well. The blend I got also contained marjoram. It’s commonly mixed into yogurt, cheese, hummus, and it goes well with practically everything. Here’s a great recipe if you feel like making it yourself (which I am going to for future use – I have a feeling this will be my go-to spice blend this summer).
So lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper and zaatar mixed together and then poured over the chicken and left to marinate for 2 hours. Next time I’m using more zaatar, lots, and letting it marinate longer.
Luckily I had enough time to cook the bulgur wheat for my tabouli. 1/2 cup dried bulgur, 1 cup boiling water, let sit for an hour. The rest of the recipe, which I had originally gotten from The Healthy Kitchen and now just wing it on the measurements, got thrown together pretty quickly and left to wait. Tomatoes, roughly chopped, minced garlic, one entire bunch of parsley. Usually I chop this pretty finely, but I wanted to try it a bit more coarse this time. I use way more parsley than called for, because, again, I love parsley. I want my tabouli to be a green salad, not a wheat salad with a little green in it. Although I will say this: when you are cooking for kids, maybe chop up the parsley a bit more – I think all three were a little weirded out by the parsley “branches” they were presented with. Also, it says something that none of the three made any comments.
That was it – zaatar and lemon grilled chicken and tabouli. Husband J put the chicken on the grill after we’d finished our first beer (Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, which I thought would go well with the Zaatar and lemon flavor) and the salad was already done. I wasn’t running around trying to finish anything, I wasn’t stressing out about anything, and I got to spend time with friends and have a great dinner. (Which I will be making again…and again…)