Za’atar Crusted Salmon with Roasted Winter Israeli Couscous

Salmon gets the Middle Eastern treatment in this recipe, served over roasted winter vegetable Israeli couscous. By searing the salmon in advance, you can have them ready on a sheet pan to finish in the oven for a few minutes right before you serve. The couscous can also be made in advance, then simply reheating it with a little extra vegetable stock and olive oil. It’s one of those dishes that everyone will gawk over, not knowing how simple it is.

For those of you who follow my culinary endeavors on Instagram (hopefully all of you), you probably saw that this was the centerpiece of my Shabbat feast last week. I started working with a company called OneTable, that encourages young Jews to get back into the habit of hosting Shabbat (which was one of my New Year's resolutions). Stay tuned every week for my Semitic shenanigans and some mouthwatering recipes!

Za’atar Crusted Salmon with Roasted Winter Israeli Couscous

Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes


For the Couscous:

3 large rainbow carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 large parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

½ cup olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4½ cups vegetable stock

2 cups Israeli couscous

½ cup minced parsley

3 tablespoons lemon juice

For the Salmon:

One 4-pound salmon side, cut into ten filets

¼ cup olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup honey

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons za’atar


  1. Make the couscous: Preheat the oven to 450°. On a sheet pan, toss the carrots, parsnips and sweet potato with the olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender, 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. Add the couscous and simmer, until tender and most the liquid is absorbed, 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

  3. To the couscous, add the roasted vegetables, the remaining olive oil, the parsley and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning, then keep warm.

  4. Make the salmon: Dry each piece of salmon well with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season 5 filets with salt and pepper and sear, flipping once, until golden brown but still raw in the middle, 2 minutes per side.

  5. Repeat this process with the remaining olive oil and salmon until all 10 filets are seared. Line them on a parchment-lined sheet pan.

  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey and lemon zest. Brush liberally on the salmon, then top each with a sprinkling za’atar. Place in the oven and bake until cooked to medium, 3 to 5 minutes.

  7. Lay the couscous on a large platter and top with the salmon filets, then serve.