Grilled Chicken with Za’atar


Can you say “za’atar?” Sure you can. In fact, if you lived in the Middle East, you’d be invoking the name of this herb-and-spice mix nearly every day. Za’atar has long had a reputation as a brain enhancer, and science may be providing a clue; researchers wrote that, in low concentrations, the carvacrol found in oregano and thyme may increase feelings of well-being. Chicken is particularly rich in brain-enhancing nutrients. This recipe makes about half a cup of za’atar, which is a lot more than you need for the chicken; store the extra in a jar and use to sprinkle on top of vegetables, dips, salad dressings, fish, eggs, or anything you would like to add a touch of the exotic.

2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons sesame seeds,
1 tablespoon dried sumac
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried marjoram

1 tablespoon extra-virgin
olive oil
1 tablespoon za’atar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
4 skinless, boneless organic
chicken breasts or thighs
2 tablespoons finely chopped
fresh parsley, for garnish
My Everything Drizzle

To make the za’atar, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Set aside 1 tablespoon to season the chicken and reserve the remainder for other uses.

To make the chicken, put the olive oil, za’atar, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Working with one piece at a time, put the chicken between several layers of parchment paper and pound with a meat pounder until about 1/4 inch thick. Put the chicken in a pan in which the pieces fit without overlapping. Spread the reserved tablespoon of za’atar evenly over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Bring the chicken to room temperature.
Oil a grill or grill pan to and heat to medium-high heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook until the chicken is firm to the touch and the juices run clear, 2 minutes on each side.
Serve garnished with the parsley and the drizzle.

COOK’S NOTE: Giving your chicken a good pounding will allow the flavor to infuse into the meat in as little as 15 minutes of marinating time.

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers

These chickpea burgers are similar to a Middle Eastern falafel. This isn’t like the Americanized version of falafel that resembles carnival food deep-fried in some unhealthy oil. That’s a culinary crime, because falafel done right is so delicious and nutritious. It’s all in the blend. Here the secret ingredient is basmati rice, which holds the chickpea mixture together and creates a complete protein. I love the mini-burger concept; the whole wheat bun is like putting falafel in a top hat and tails, perfect for folks who like the taste of beans when they’re broken down and combined with heady herbs and spices. Gently pan-seared or baked, these burgers are bountiful bites of health. 

MAKES: 17 patties

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or
1 (15-ounce) can, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ground coriander 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 organic egg, beaten
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
21⁄2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
1⁄4 cup loosely packed minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the chickpeas, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, egg, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and process until smooth and well combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the rice, bell pepper, and parsley.

Moisten your hands to keep the mixture from sticking, then shape the mixture into 1⁄4-inch-thick patties about 21⁄2 inches in diameter. Place them on the prepared pan and bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the patties start to get dry and crisp on the outside. They will firm up as they cool.

VARIATIONS: For a crispy burger, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. For a vegan burger, substitute 1 tablespoon tahini for the egg.

COOK’S NOTE: If you want to cook just a few patties, pop them in your toaster oven. To freeze these burgers, either cooked or uncooked, stack them up with parchment paper between the burgers, then wrap first in plastic wrap, then in foil. The parchment paper makes it easy to remove the desired number of burgers from the bundle. Once thawed, cooked burgers can be reheated at 350ºF for 15 minutes, and uncooked burgers can be baked as directed here, at 375ºF for 22 to 25 minutes.

STORAGE: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Burgers can also be frozen in cooked or uncooked form for 2 months (see Cook’s Note).

Reprinted with permission from The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Copyright © 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.


Lentil Salad with Roasted Beets

MAKES 4 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 20 minutes • COOK TIME: 1 hour

Back in the days when I was a kitchen serf, I received a great piece of culinary advice from a cook. She said to take a food you wanted to work with and imagine preparing it thirty different ways. That’s a mental exercise that has served me well over the years, because certain foods are so valuable from a health perspective that they need to show up time and again in new and interesting forms. So it is with lentils. They’re so versatile, and they act as a great backdrop for salads and side dishes. In this recipe, they’re the foundation for a wonderful blend of citrus and crunch, with fennel, sweet roasted beets, and walnuts all gleefully playing together in the sandbox. Now I just have to come up with twenty-nine more lentil combinations to satisfy that cook.

2 beets
1 cup dried lentils, preferably
Le Puy green lentils, rinsed well
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Toasted Cumin Citrus Vinaigrette
Sea salt
1 cup diced fennel
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wrap the beets in parchment paper, then in foil, and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on their size), until tender and fragrant. Remove from the oven and, when they are cool enough, peel and cut into small cubes. 

Combine the lentils, garlic, bay leaf, and cinnamon in a saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils thoroughly and discard the garlic clove, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. 

Toss the lentils with half the vinaigrette and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and let it rest a few minutes. Then add the fennel, beets, and remaining dressing. Stir in the mint and parsley, walnuts, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Taste; you may want to add another pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, or a bit more lemon juice. Serve. 

VARIATION: This salad can also be heated and served over arugula or spinach. The heat will gently wilt the greens. 

COOK’S NOTE: You don’t have to presoak lentils, but rinse them well in a bowl of cold water, using your hands to swish them around. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Don’t boil lentils, which makes them mushy and causes them to fall apart. Let them simmer for a nice, tender texture

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.



Toasted Cumin Citrus Vinaigrette

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP • PREP TIME: 5 minutes • COOK TIME: Not applicable

I come by making salad dressing honestly, as my dad was in the food manufacturing business. Many a day I’d come to my dad’s office with my latest vinaigrette concoction in a yogurt cup and take it to the lab, where I learned to measure ingredients precisely so we could reproduce the taste in my little yogurt cup when it was scaled up to a two-hundred-gallon drum (talk about the importance of learning how to write down a repeatable recipe!). This airtight dressing is easy to prepare and delicious.

2 oranges, zested
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking all the while, and continue whisking until smooth.  Transfer to a small container with a fitted lid and shake well.

Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.