Here in L.A., summer temps are breaking records. If we could live on popsicles and watermelon we would, but more often, it’s Middle Eastern food that fits the bill. This spiced, paleo-friendly dinner is perfect and simple thanks to Meseidy Rivera’s easy to work with cookbook and — if you’re feeling adventurous — you could even work this exotic version of za’atar into the recipe…

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend of dried herbs, sesame seeds and sumac. It’s very savory and aromatic, and I recommend everyone add it to their pantry. These chicken thighs are seasoned with za’atar and roasted with cauliflower, red onion, lemons and whole garlic until the chicken is tender and the skin is crispy. You literally put everything on a sheet pan, rub it with seasonings and toss it in the oven. It is a full Middle Eastern–inspired meal. Enjoy the chicken as prepared or served with basmati rice, warm naan bread or roasted sweet potatoes with tahini dressing.

crispy za’atar chicken and cauliflower
Serves 4

2 tbsp (30 ml) melted ghee or clarified butter
3 tbsp (23 g) za’atar
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1½ tsp (9g) kosher salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups [400 g])
1 red onion, cut into 1″ (2.5-cm) wedges
3 heads garlic, tops trimmed
2 lemons, halved
2 lbs (905 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 large thighs)

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a rimmed sheet pan with foil

In a small bowl, combine the melted ghee, za’atar, lemon juice and salt.

Place the cauliflower, onion, garlic heads, halved lemons and chicken on the prepared sheet pan. Add the seasoning mixture and toss until evenly coated. Arrange everything into a single layer on the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, then broil on high for 1 minute, or until the skin is crispy.

Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the heads and sprinkle over the chicken, then serve.

Notes: The chicken can be seasoned the night before and stored in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to cook, to get your dinner on the table even faster.

Reprinted with permission from Weeknight Gourmet Dinners by Meseidy Rivera, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Meseidy Rivera

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