Get inspired by Middle Eastern flavors with this one pan za’atar chicken bake. It’s easy to whip up and tastes incredible, especially with a drizzle of tahini dressing. Paleo, gluten-free and whole30 approved.
Gah! As I type this I’m feeling super behind because I still haven’t done a recap of our trip to Israel in November. When we got home I was consumed with catching up, then the holidays began, and now it’s 2018 and I still haven’t put my Israel travel post together. I guess part of me is wondering if my travel recaps are even something you are interested in. So help a sister out — do you like it when I do travel recaps? Do you want to hear about our Israel trip? Just leave a comment and let me know!
The whole reason I’m bringing up our trip to Israel is because today’s recipe for za’atar chicken and butternut squash is 100% inspired from our trip. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that I had heard about before, but it wasn’t until our trip when we actually made our own za’atar seasoning blend that I became familiar and excited about experimenting with it.
While in Israel we made jars of za’atar to take home with the ladies of Sindyanna of Galilee, a really cool non-profit organization led by a team of Arab and Jewish women working to create social change from the ground up. Za’atar spice blends vary, but our blend has dried za’atar leaves (which are very similar to oregano or thyme), sesame seeds, sumac, olive oil and sea salt. It’s aromatic, herby and salty with a hint of tang from the sumac. In the Middle East za’atar is used as a table condiment, like salt and pepper, so you’ll see people sprinkling it on everything from eggs and oatmeal to yogurt (or labneh) and meat. I personally love it mixed with olive oil as a dip for pita bread!
Since we’ve been home I’ve been experimenting with the za’atar and have almost used our whole jar! I’ve made a few dishes that we’ve loved, and this one pan za’atar chicken bake with butternut squash is definitely a favorite!
If you’re new to za’atar and don’t have it in your spice cabinet, no worries! You can find it at most international or natural grocery stores, or at a specialty spice shop like Penzeys. I’ve definitely seen it at my local Whole Foods.
If you’ve been reading EBF for a while you’ll know I’m all about quick and efficient meals, and sheet pan bakes are on the menu at least once a week over here.
This particular one pan bake is perfect for weeknights because once the chicken is marinated and the veggies are chopped — two steps that you can totally do in advance — the dish only takes about 10 minutes to toss together and 30-40 minutes to bake. Once cooked, the chicken and veggies can be served as is or topped with a drizzle of my zesty tahini dressing, which complements the za’atar seasoning perfectly.
One thing I thought about after taking the photos for this recipe is how awesome it would be as a salad. If you’re up for trying it as a salad, just follow the recipe as written. Then once the one pan bake is finished cooking, simply chop the chicken and serve both the chicken and veggies over a bed of mixed greens. Drizzle the zesty tahini dressing on top and serve! I’m going to try the salad method next week.
I hope you like this Middle Eastern one pan bake as much as we do!
One Pan Za'atar Chicken Bake
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small, bite-size pieces (about 3-4 cups)
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- zest of one lemon
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- zesty tahini dressing, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, za'atar, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make the marinade. Reserve 2 Tablespoons to use on the veggies.
- Coat chicken in the remaining marinade and let sit for at least 30-60 minutes and up to 24 hours; letting the chicken marinate longer will impart more flavor. Toss butternut and red onion in the reserved 2 Tablespoons of marinade.
- Add butternut and onion mixture to a large baking sheet (for easy cleanup, line sheet with parchment or a silicone liner). Create space between the veggies and place marinated chicken on the sheet as well. Place in the preheated oven, uncovered. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until butternut squash pieces are easily pierced with a fork and chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately. Drizzle chicken and veggies with tahini dressing, if using.
Feel free to swap tofu for the chicken to make a vegetarian/vegan version of this recipe!
If you try this one pan za’atar chicken bake let me know how it turns out in the comment section or share a photo on social media. Just be sure to tag me (@eatingbirdfood + #eatingbirdfood) so that I see it!