Middle Eastern

Za’atar Salmon & Tahini From Ottolenghi Test Kitchen

November 17, 2021
12 Ratings
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

If you haven’t yet paired fish with tahini, then you’re in for a real treat. This version combines tahini with herbaceous za’atar and sour sumac, our ever familiar but much treasured test kitchen staples. We strongly recommend using creamy, nutty tahini that’s sourced from countries within the Levant. Eat this shortly after cooking, as cooked tahini doesn’t sit or reheat very well. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Recipe excerpted with permission from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi, published by Clarkson Potter © 2021. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Za’atar Salmon & Tahini From Ottolenghi Test Kitchen
  • 4 salmon fillets (1 lb 5 oz/ 600g), skin on and pin bones removed
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • 2 teaspoons sumac, plus 1/2 teaspoon more for sprinkling
  • 4 tablespoons (60 millileters) olive oil
  • 9 ounces (250 grams) baby spinach or other tender green of choice
  • 1/3 cup (90 grams) tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Pat dry the salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the za’atar and sumac, then sprinkle this all over the top of the salmon to create a crust.
  3. Place a large, oven-safe sauté pan on medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the spinach and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until wilted.
  4. Top with the salmon, skin side down, and drizzle the top of the fish with 2 tablespoons of oil. Bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the tahini, garlic, 21⁄2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a good pinch of salt, and 7 tablespoons/100ml of water until smooth and quite runny.
  6. When ready, remove the pan from the oven and pour the tahini all around the salmon (but not on the fish at all). Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the tahini is bubbling. Spoon the remaining 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and oil over everything and top with the cilantro and extra sumac.
  7. Make it your own:

    – Swap out the salmon for other sustainably caught fish, adjusting cooking times as needed.
    – Use other leafy greens in place of spinach, such as kale or chard.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Beth Bardin
    Beth Bardin
  • dutchjb
  • sdovi
  • aclincol

12 Reviews

dutchjb May 5, 2024
I should add that although i set my oven at 450, my thermometer showed it was closer to 400 degrees. Maybe 425. 10 minutes worked just fine cause of that. Otherwise i can see how it was too long for others.
dutchjb May 5, 2024
Beth B. April 8, 2023
So Good! I love sumac and the tahini really surprised me. I've made this several times and it's so simple and delicious. Makes a good impression for a special but easy meal.
sdovi September 7, 2022
This recipe was simply and extremely tasty. I was getting sick of salmon but the tahini sauce made it luscious.
aclincol June 8, 2022
Loved the flavors. I did use another technique to cook the salmon since it’s so reliable -Sally Schneider's Slow-Roasted Salmon. Used with this spice rub, adding the tahini blend at 10 minutes. Will make again.
therealmg February 1, 2022
This was so frikin good. Flavors were wonderful. My husband and I loved it! Doesn’t take long, pretty simple recipe. The salmon came out so soft and incredibly moist. Adding to my recipe book. I served with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
FMK718 January 4, 2022
This was amazing!! I doubled the tahini/water/lemon because another commenter said it was too dry. The salmon was perfectly cooked in about 11 minutes. I would make this again in a heartbeat. My family loved it.
Froggie December 5, 2021
Made exactly in accordance with the recipe, salmon was over cooked and the “sauce” had set.

Flavour/taste ok - but remarkably stodgy, not light and bright as I’d hoped.

First fail for me from an ottolenghi/murad recipe.
CassT April 29, 2022
Can't agree more
Everybody's raving about this recipe but it never turn out the way I expect it.
Salmon overcooked, sauce ok but not whoa, and heavy.
Next time, I'll try to cook the salmon for 6 to 8 min, and lighten the sauce by adding and more lemon (and less tahini)
Peter D. June 24, 2023
I also agree with these posters. I would make again though but with adjustments. Saute spinach to wilt. Remove. No one particularly liked the spinach under the salmon. Roast salmon but way less time. Lighten the sauce with more water and lemon. Add sauce when the salmon has 5 minutes left. If the salmon is thin, this could mean 1 or 2 minutes after the salmon went in the oven. Reserve some sauce to toss with spinach separately.
pamela November 21, 2021
not a review but questions:
wouldn't the spinach cook under the salmon anyway?
why not put skin up w/ zaatar for that crispy skin?
salena November 19, 2021
What a wonderful and unexpected way to cook salmon. I used dill instead of cilantro because that's what I had. Delicious and easy.