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Za'atar Salmon with Couscous, Delicata Squash, and Tahini

  • All Salmon
  • Middle Eastern
  • Active Time:15 min
  • Total Time:30 min
  • Servings:2
  • Difficulty:Intermediate
Photo by Kim Laidlaw

A sprinkle of tangy and herby za’atar, a drizzle of nutty tahini sauce, and a fluffy bed of steamed couscous give this roasted salmon dish plenty of Middle Eastern flair. Za’atar is a herb and spice mixture containing sesame seeds, sumac, and often thyme, marjoram, and salt, although spice mixtures vary. Delicata squash has a tender skin so there’s no need to peel it. To make removing the seeds from rounds easy, use a small biscuit cutter.


  • 2 tablespoons tahini

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 medium or 2 small delicata squash (10 ounces), cut crosswise into ½ inch slices and seeded (no need to peel)

  • 2 king salmon fillets (6- to 8-ounces each), pin bones removed

  • 1½ teaspoons za’atar

  • 1 cup dry couscous

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish


Make the Tahini Sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sturdy baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon warm water, and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be just thin enough to drizzle. Set aside.

Roast the Squash and Salmon

Drizzle squash with a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Spread into an even layer over ⅔ of the sheet, leaving room for the salmon. Roast until barely tender, about 8 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Brush the salmon all over with olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet, skin-side down. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top of each fillet evenly with ¾ teaspoon za’atar. Roast until the salmon is cooked but still slightly pink in the center and the squash is golden and tender, about 7 minutes, depending on thickness. (If the squash cooks too quickly, remove it from the oven and continue to roast the salmon.)

Make the Couscous

While the salmon and squash are roasting, make the couscous. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the couscous, stir, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes or cook according to package directions. Fluff the couscous with a fork, stir in the 1 tablespoon parsley, and cover to keep warm.

Finish and Serve

To serve, divide the couscous between two shallow bowls or plates. Top each with half the roasted squash and a salmon fillet. Drizzle with some of the tahini, then garnish with parsley. Serve at once.

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Pro Tips

Level It Up

Drizzle the squash with pomegranate molasses after roasting for a sweet-tangy punch of flavor. Scatter fresh mint leaves over top for a bright herbal kick.

Change It Up

Toss any leftover couscous, salmon, and squash with fresh chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and serve chilled or at room temperature for a refreshing salad.


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