The flavours of Israel have stayed with me ever since I came back from my trip back last September. The moment I came back home (packed with a tonne of spices I must say) I found myself feeling nostalgic for all the dishes I had tried during my stay. The truth is that there are so many reasons why I love Israeli food. Let’s just start by saying that I am drawn to the fact that they’ve welcomed flavours from around the world, and created their own unique cuisine. One that is incredibly vibrant. However, If I had to choose what I love the most about Israeli food, it would without a doubt be the spices. Especially Za’atar and Sumac. One is earthy, the other, bright and lemony. And both happen to be amazing when paired with fish. Including in the recipe that I’m sharing with you today. An incredibly flavourful Roasted Salmon with Za’atar and Sumac, that’s has been on repeat at our home. This recipe has so many layers or flavour and it has been taking me back to Israel with every bite. And I’m not mad about it.
If a trip to Israel is on your mind…
As you might remember, last September I went to Israel with the non-profit organization Vibe Israel. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and we spent 9 days discovering the unparalleled food scenes of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. With 5 other Bloggers from around the world, we spent our days visiting cultural landmarks, markets, restaurants and attending super fun workshops. We even had the chance to have Shabbat dinner at a local family’s home. Every dish we tried during our trip was simply incredible. And I loved the fact that there’s no shortage of vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian options wherever you go. So if like me, you don’t eat meat, rest assured. You are covered. But back to our recipe today! This Roasted Salmon with Za’atar and Sumac was inspired by the incredibly fresh seafood I tried in Tel Aviv. Each spiced with flavours I had never used on fish before, including…
This supremely aromatic spice blend, combines toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried marjoram, and Sumac. Simply put, it’s an all around earthy and olive green combination of spices, that you could use literally on anything (while in Israel we even tried it on pizza). It’s delicious on hummus, roasted cauliflower, and lately I’ve been adding it to lentil soup. Za’atar is often called a gateway to the Middle Eastern pantry.
The Sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into a coarse powder. Ground Sumac has become one of my favourite spices for its versatility. It has a tangy lemony flavour, a bit more balanced than lemon juice. In fact, if you are making a dish that needs lemon, and don’t have one handy, you can easily use Sumac instead. You can use Sumac, for rubs and marinades as well as adding it to dishes just before serving. I love adding a bit to my Israeli salad too.
I brought both Za’atar and Sumac from Israel, but have been replenishing my supply with the ones by New York Shuk. A Brooklyn based maker of high quality Middle Eastern spices. They also happen to make preserved lemon paste (you will use it on everything) and Harissa.
You can enjoy the Roasted Salmon with Za’atar and Sumac with lemony smashed potatoes, a green salad or with a fragrant turmeric rice. But ever since I tried my friend Ari Lang’s out of this world crispy pan seared salmon with Israeli couscous, I’ve been obsessed with how well salmon and couscous go together. The Za’atar gives the salmon a deeply nutty and earthy flavour thanks to the thyme and marjoram. While the Sumac infuses it with a tart and lemony flavour.
If you haven’t tried it you are in for a treat. In a word, Israeli couscous is versatile. You can use it in soups, swap it for arborio rice for risotto, or add it to salads. To go with The Roasted Salmon with Za’atar and Sumac, I’ve simply cooked it with a bit of olive oil, garlic, harissa and lemon juice. I’ve also added cherry tomatoes that when slow cooked, release its juices lending this sauce a hint of sweetness. This makes for great dish on its own it can be enjoyed hot cold) but when served with the salmon, it’s simply next level delicious.
Even though you can certainly enjoy the Roasted Salmon without it, believe me when I tell you, that you will be putting this sauce on absolutely EVERYTHING. Like the best things in life, this sauce is simple. And it only takes a few key ingredients to make. It has creamy yogurt, chilies, lemon juice, garlic, mint and za’atar. That’s it. Not only does it goes well with fish, but you can add a dollop to sweet potatoes, grilled vegetables, roasted cauliflower or spoon it over beets.
Like with the majority of my recipes, this one takes 35 minutes to make. Which makes it a great option for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch with friends. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we at home have. And that it inspires you to explore different spices when it comes to fish. If you make this recipe, I would love to see it! make sure you tag it at #dialaskitchen on Instagram. Or leave me a comment below!
Roasted Salmon with Za'atar and Sumac
- For the Salmon
- 4 fillets organic (if possible) salmon, about 1/2 pound or 250 grams each. skin off or on.
- Sea salt and pepper, to season
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Za'atar
- 1 tbsp Sumac
- 1 lemon, sliced
- For the Couscous
- 2 cups Israeli Couscous
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 4 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste (or ground harissa)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
- For the yogurt sauce
- 1 cup 2% yogurt
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp za'atar
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Thai chili, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds/
Pre heat the oven to 375 F.
Place the salmon fillets in a shallow baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the Za'atar and Sumac. Rub the spices all over the salmon fillets. top eat piece with a slice of lemon and let stand for 5 minutes. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Setting the oven to broil for the last two minutes.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add about 1 tbsp of salt when boiling and then add the couscous. The couscous will be ready and al dente in about minutes. In the meantime, in a large frying pan, set over medium heat, pour in the the olive oil and add the garlic. Cook for about 3o seconds stirring often. Add the green onions and harissa. Stir for a minute. Then add the cherry tomatoes, and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. The tomatoes will release its liquids and you'll end up with a super flavourful sauce. Pour in the wine and cook for an extra minute. Add the drained couscous to the sauce, as well as the parsley and feta. Stir until combined and set aside.
To make the sauce, in a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, Za'atar and chili, if using. Stir until combined.
Serve the salmon over the couscous, and spoon some of the sauce over each fillet. sprinkling it with pomegranate seeds.