Za'atar stars in Lebanese chicken dinner

Linda Gassenheimer
Tribune News Service

Noticing so many eastern Mediterranean and Lebanese restaurants becoming popular, I was hungry for a quick dinner with their savory and aromatic flavors. Using za'atar found in the spice section of the market, I created this quick dinner with very little effort.

Za'atar, a spice mixture used in many eastern Mediterranean countries, is made with varying types of spices. In general, it’s a combination of dried oregano, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. You can also find it in jars mixed with olive oil. This can also be used in the recipe.

Helpful Hints

  • You can use any type of microwaveable rice if basmati rice isn’t available.
  • You can use chicken tenders instead of chicken breast.
  • You can use four garlic cloves instead of minced garlic.


  • Prepare ingredients.
  • Start chicken.
  • While chicken sautees, microwave zucchini and rice.
  • Complete the recipe.

Shopping List

To buy: 1 bottle za'atar spice, 1 lemon, 1 jar minced garlic, 1 container no-salt-added chicken broth, 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1 large zucchini, 1 bunch cilantro and 1 package microwaveable basmati rice.

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Lebanese Chicken and Basmati Rice. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)


Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

  • 2 tablespoons za'atar seasoning
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup no-salt-added chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound boneless chicken breast
  • 2 cups1/4-inch zucchini cubes
  • 1 1/2-cups microwave basmati rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Mix za'atar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and chicken broth together in a small bowl.

Place chicken on a cutting board. Remove visible fat from chicken and pound until about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. This can be done with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a sturdy skillet.

Heat a nonstick skillet just large enough to hold the chicken in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown 3 minutes. Turn chicken over and add the za'atar sauce to the skillet and cook 3 minutes. If za'atar sauce runs dry, add a little more broth.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and add the basmati rice for 1 minute or according to package instructions. Measure 1 1/2 cups and reserve any remaining rice for another meal. Add the rice to the zucchini and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the rice between 2 dinner plates. Place the chicken over the rice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and rice. Sprinkle cilantro on top.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 541 calories (33% from fat), 19.6 g fat (3.2 g saturated, 8.2 g monounsaturated), 126 mg cholesterol, 44.4 g protein, 45.3 g carbohydrates, 3.1 g fiber, 273 mg sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, "The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook." Listen to Linda on and all major podcast sites. Email her at