Shades of Green Salad with Creamy Za'atar Dressing (Kale, Roasted Zucchini, and Green Pea Salad) is a great way to nourish your body with fresh vibrant vegetables.
When spring starts to roll around my body somehow knows and starts craving the color green like it’s going out of style. That was the inspiration for this salad.
Other than the creamy za'atar dressing, I tried to go for all things green in this recipe. The only ingredient that is questionable is the sunflower seeds, but I think it’s fair to say that even they have a greenish hue.
One of my favorite types of salad is a combo of hot and cold, usually roasted or sautéed veggies on a bed of greens.
In this recipe, we quick-roast zucchini. However, in keeping with the green them, asparagus or green beans would also be perfect.
With the addition of avocado for healthy fat and sunflower seeds for protein, this makes a great lunch in itself (it serves 2 as a vegetarian meal). Or you can serve it as a side dish along with anything you want to grill up (it serves 4 as a side salad).
The Best Creamy Za'atar Dressing
The za'atar dressing here is something really special. It’s rich and creamy like ranch, but seasoned with a Middle Eastern spice mix called za’atar.
What is Za'atar?
Zaatar means "thyme" in Arabic. It typically refers to a thyme-heavy seasoning blend that commonly contains some blend of the following: dried thyme, ground thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, marjoram, savory, and/or salt.
Za'atar spice mix is zesty and packed with flavor. There are regional variations of this mix in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (and possibly other areas).
Za'atar is frequently added to breakfast in the Middle East. During my time in Syria and Jordan, we would tear off a bite-sized piece of bread from a large flatbread, soak it in good-quality olive oil, and then dip it in za’atar. When the bread is fresh and hot, this is perfection. Especially paired with piping hot sweet black tea!
What's the Difference Between Red and Green Za'atar?
When I lived in Kuwait a couple years ago, a friend brought back a big bag of za’atar from Palestine for me, which is what I used in this recipe. It looks most similar to this kind of za’atar on Amazon.
The biggest difference I noticed between this version of za’atar from Palestine and the Jordanian version that I’m more familiar with, is that the Jordanian recipe includes (much more) sumac. Za'atar with a good amount of sumac is called red za'atar. In addition to a reddish hue, sumac adds a bright, tangy flavor that's reminiscent of tart lemon.
Palestinian za'atar is a bit more herbaceous with oregano, thyme, and sesame as the predominant flavors. Za'atar with less sumac and more thyme (aka za'atar) is referred to as green za'atar.
To me, green za’atar makes this creamy dressing similar to green goddess dressing, but with even more flavor.
Green Salad with Creamy Zaatar Dressing
Ingredients in Green Salad with Roasted Zucchini:
- Avocado oil spray - to roast the zucchini
- Zucchini - roasted zucchini makes this salad feel hearty
- Salt and black pepper - to season the dish
- Apple cider vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey - along with a little salt and black pepper, this makes a quick vinaigrette for the kale; you can use maple syrup instead of honey if you prefer
- Kale - this is the base of our green salad; you can use any leafy greens you like, such as chard, collard greens, arugula, spinach, etc.
- Scallion - adds savory onion flavor to the salad (without the overpoweringly strong flavor that regular onion has)
- Green peas - frozen peas work great, just thaw and drain them first
- Avocado - adds richness and makes our salad more satisfying
- Unsalted sunflower seeds - adds crunch and bumps up the protein in this green salad
Ingredients in Creamy Za’atar Dressing:
- Mayo - this is the base for our creamy salad dressing
- Heavy cream - to thin out the mayo a bit
- Fresh parsley - for color and flavor
- Fresh lemon juice - to brighten the flavor of the dressing
- Za'atar spice mix - you can use whatever your favorite type of za'atar is; here I used a green Palestinian za'atar mix
- Garlic - just a little fresh garlic takes zaatar dressing over the top!
How to Make Green Salad with Roasted Zucchini
Step 1: Roast the Zucchini:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray the bottom of a small baking sheet with avocado oil. Spread the zucchini out onto the sheet and give it a quick spray with oil. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat. Roast until softened and starting to brown in spots, about 12 minutes. Cool.
Step 2: Prep the Kale:
Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Make the Za'atar Dressing:
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate until serving.
Step 4: Assemble the Salad:
To assemble the salad, spread the kale out on a large serving platter. Arrange the zucchini, scallion, peas, avocado, and sunflower seeds on top. Serve along with the dressing to drizzle on top.
How to Store Za'atar Dressing
Store this dressing in a covered glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
How to Use Creamy Za'atar Dressing
There are so many ways to use this creamy sauce other than just as a salad dressing! Here are a few of my favorite ways to use creamy za'atar dressing:
- As a dip for raw vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips, broccoli florets, etc.
- Spread onto a sandwich or wrap instead of mayo
- As a sauce for grilled chicken or chicken nuggets
More Ways to Use Za'atar
- Za’atar and Mint Butter Bean Salad (Vegan) from An Edible Mosaic
- Roasted Roma Tomatoes with Feta and Za’atar from Things I Made Today
- Za’atar Pomegranate Cheese Ball from Chez Us
- Braised Broccoli Rabe with Chickpeas, Za’atar, and Tahini Drizzle (Gluten-Free) from An Edible Mosaic
Shades of Green Salad with Creamy Za'atar Dressing
- Avocado oil spray
- 1 medium zucchini chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt divided into ¼ teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper divided into ⅛ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 5 cups chopped kale
- 2 scallions green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen green peas thawed
- 1 avocado sliced
- 4 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds toasted
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray the bottom of a small baking sheet with avocado oil. Spread the zucchini out onto the sheet and give it a quick spray with oil. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper and toss to coat. Roast until softened and starting to brown in spots, about 12 minutes. Cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, honey, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Add the kale and toss well to coat. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate until serving.
- To assemble the salad, spread the kale out on a large serving platter. Arrange the zucchini, scallion, peas, avocado, and sunflower seeds on top. Serve along with the dressing to drizzle on top.
- Recipe Yield: This recipe serves 2 as vegetarian meal or 4 as a side dish.
- Make the Dressing Ahead: Store it covered in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. If you do so, make a double or triple batch - you're going to love it!
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on March 12, 2018. It was updated with more information on April 16, 2023.