Za'atar Spiced Fish Pasta with Spinach

January 25, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 2 with leftovers for lunch
Author Notes

I am the queen of one-dish meals. I rarely get home from work before 5:30 or 6, and prefer to have a home-cooked dinner, so pasta is a mainstay of our diet. We love pasta with fish, and are always experimenting with different flavors and combinations. When onetribegourmet posted a recipe for homemade za'atar, I was so smitten that I ordered fresh sesame seeds, lemon thyme, sumac and aleppo pepper from World Spice Market. This recipe came from that inspiration. It is a perfect week-night meal that can be made in about a half hour, and adjusted to your taste. It cleans up easily, too! - drbabs —drbabs

Test Kitchen Notes

This delectable dish has the ability to transform a weeknight meal into a special event. As promised, within 30 minutes you can have a dynamite & healthy meal on the table. The Za'atar is responsible for kicking things off, but the combination of the other ingredients make this recipe sing. The lingering taste of the grated meyer lemon rind refreshes the palate, making you long for another bite. I'll add this one to my entertaining repertoire as well. —sticksnscones

What You'll Need
  • Za'atar Spice Rub
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried lemon thyme (or regular dried thyme)
  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Fish and Pasta
  • 3/4 pound white fish filets such as snapper, cod or tilapia
  • za'atar seasoning from above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 spring onion (or 2 scallions), minced
  • 1-2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives, chopped fine
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or aleppo pepper)
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • zest of one meyer lemon
  • more toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 pound pasta of your choice--I used shells.
  1. Dry fish filets and sprinkle both sides with za'atar spice rub. You will not use all of it. Some will go into the sauce when cooking and you will probably have some left over.
  2. In a large saucepan (You will ultimately put the pasta in this pan so it should be large.), heat oil over medium heat, and saute shallots, onions and garlic till soft but not browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and wine, and turn up heat so that sauce comes to low boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in about a tablespoon of za'atar and add spinach, stirring till wilted.
  3. Boil salted water for pasta. While water is coming up to boil, cut fish into 1 inch pieces, and put fish and seasoning into tomato sauce. Stir so that fish pieces are completely covered. Stir in chopped kalamata olives and red pepper flakes (or aleppo pepper).
  4. Cook the pasta to just al dente. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of pasta water in case you need it for the sauce (I didn't.). Stir pasta into sauce, taking care to leave fish in rather large chunks. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want to add salt and pepper or more za'atar seasoning.
  5. To serve, spoon pasta with sauce onto plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley, lemon zest and sesame seeds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Burnt Offerings
    Burnt Offerings
  • Bluejade
  • AntoniaJames
  • healthierkitchen
  • hardlikearmour

9 Reviews

Squid June 29, 2016
Great recipe, I look forward to trying it. Thank you! (Anything with za’atar is good in my book!)
Burnt O. September 2, 2011
Not wanting to make a trip to the store today, I literally typed: fish, spinach, pasta into Foodily.com and this came up! I have some frozen mahi mahi filets, and I just made some za'atar for another dish. I may sprinkle some feta cheese over it too and use that up. Thanks for the tasty, healthy, recipe - and avoiding a trip to the store!
drbabs September 2, 2011
Foodily.com? How cool! I hope you enjoy it--thanks so much for letting me know!
Bluejade April 27, 2011
A great combination and a very easy recipe. I had almost everything in stock except all the za'atar ingredients. So I substituted Penzy Spices's Tuscan Sunset mix, which turned out great. I used tilapia, which cooked up quickly. We liked the chunks of fish idea. Didn't have white wine, so substituted 1/4 cup cooking sherry and 3/4 cup water -- turned out fine. The chopped parsley, lemon zest and sesame seeds at the end are a fabulous way to plate this up -- don't forget them! Thanks for the recipe!
drbabs April 27, 2011
Thanks for commenting! I'm so glad you liked it. Za'atar is my new favorite seasoning, but I bet the Tuscan Sunset blend was really good, too!
AntoniaJames February 3, 2011
This looks sensational. Definitely on the must-try, no, the "make this ASAP" list. Stay tuned. . . . ;o)
healthierkitchen January 26, 2011
A great idea!
hardlikearmour January 25, 2011
Looks great, drbabs!
drbabs January 26, 2011
Thanks--I'm a za'atar fanatic now!