Sunday, September 26, 2010

Za'atar Roasted Potatoes and Pesto-Covered Baked Tilapia

First of all...thanks to Maren for her awesome giveaway! I can't wait to try her cookies and tell you all how delicious they are :)

Second of all...before I get to the recipes, I just want to tell you how excited I am to share this meal with you. It turned out GREAT! :)

I can't remember the first time I tried za'atar, but I have been a huge fan recently. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it typically refers to a Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, and other spices. It's mild but extremely flavorful and adds a great extra zing to dishes. I especially love it baked onto pita bread or mixed with olive oil for a dipping sauce.

There is a great Middle Eastern grocery store near my parents' house in OC, and they have fabulous prices on everything. The last time I was there I picked up a huge bag of za'atar for about $3 - score! It's been sitting on my counter for a few months and I thought tonight would be a great night to put it to use.

We love having diced potatoes simply roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever herbs get added. They crunch up in the oven and are just flavorful and wonderful. For this meal I thought, why not use za'atar? I added it to the potatoes and roasted them for about 40 minutes, and added the tilapia to the oven halfway through.

All the stuff for the 'taters:

Chopped up and ready for the oven:

While the potatoes bake, spread pesto over your tilapia in a cooking-sprayed oven-safe dish:

Drumroll please...the finished product!

I can't say enough good things about this meal, if I have to toot my own horn. Hubby loved it too and kept saying "mmm" during dinner, so you know that's a good sign :) The za'atar added just the right flavors and seasonings to the potatoes - definitely that little something extra to make them much more special than your usual roasted potatoes. The pesto added a great flavor and nuttiness to the mild tilapia, which served as a great blank canvas to backdrop the pesto flavor. This was also super simple to make - just pop everything in the oven and have a glass of wine while you wait :) What could be better?

Za'atar Roasted Potatoes - serves 3-4

  • 3-4 small/medium baking potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. za'atar (purchase at your local ethnic market)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash your potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • On a foil-lined baking sheet, spread out the potatoes. Drizzle with the EVOO. Add lemon zest and za'atar; toss to coat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Pesto-Covered Baked Tilapia - serves 2

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or use the same oven as the za'atar potatoes :) ).
  • Coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Arrange tilapia filets in a single layer in the dish. Cover each filet with enough pesto to cover (about 2 tbsp. each). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake on the middle rack uncovered for 20 minutes, or until fish is opaque. Serve with the za'atar roasted potatoes.


  1. What a delicious, exotic recipe! I'm so glad that I stumbled on your blog tonight. You are doing some great things here. Thank you for sharing. I want to give this recipe a can you go wrong with roasted potatoes?

  2. This sounds so good. I love pesto on anything. I have to find some za'atar. -Gina-

  3. Thanks ladies! It's super easy to make. Hope you enjoy :)

  4. Okay, so I have this thing about green foods ... I'm suspicious. I didn't eat guac for the LONGEST time. I've never tried pesto! What does it taste like?

  5. Oh my that looks good, and love the flavors :)

  6. this sounds really yummy! i just happen to stumble on you blog! it's awesome. thank you for sharing this.

  7. @Sarah - pesto is really good! Traditionally it's a paste of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and seasonings, so I'd compare the consistency to a tapenade or roasted red pepper spread. It's smooth but thick and nutty - kinda like basil "butter", for lack of a better term? You'll definitely get the basil, garlic, and nut flavors in there. 'Tis delicious :)

  8. Great idea for the potatoes...I love za'atar too! Wonderful dinner, especially the popping in the oven and having a glass of wine while you wait. I love meals like that!


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