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Zaatar Salmon with Persian Jewelled Quinoa

Zaatar Baked Salmon with Jeweled Quinoa.jpeg

With Passover and Easter coming during the same week, we are all looking for elegant dinners or  luncheons for family and friends! Zaatar Salmon is a lighter menu choice. It reheats well, making it easy to make the day before, keeping your kitchen clean when having guests. And it is absolutely delicious! I am a fan of zaatar but had never used it on salmon before. Now I’m a fan!! The Fresh Herb topping is a fantastic addition--don’t forget a squirt of lemon on top, which heightens the flavor. I paired the salmon with what is traditionally a rice dish, but substituted quinoa, in Persian Style Jeweled Quinoa, gluten free and perfect for Passover. A pretty presentation with dried raisins, cranberries. The recipe is made for four. You can divide or multiply the recipe as suits your need. Both the salmon and quinoa last nicely in the refrigerator, so you can make a bit more and have it for the next day or two. Leftover quinoa can be frozen.

Stuffed Vegetables, hollowed out.jpeg
Stuffed zucchini and yellow squash (2).jpeg

Check out my article, Egyptian Jews: A Global Culinary Community, paired with a recipe of course! 

Zaatar Salmon with Persian Jewelled Quinoa

Serves 4 as main course, 6 as 1st course


Persian Style Jeweled Quinoa

1 1/2 cups quinoa

2 teaspoons olive oil

2-3 scallions, chopped

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamon

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon saffron

1/2 cup mixed dried cranberries, cherries and golden raisins

3 cups water


Spice rub

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons zaatar

1/2 teaspoon paprika



4 -6 fillets of salmon (Salmon freezes well, so cut the larger fillets into individual sized portions, wrap any extra in plastic wrap and place in freezer bag for future use.)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Herb-Nut Topping

2 tablespoons cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons cup almonds, sliced
2 teaspoons dried basil or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped or torn

2 teaspoons dried parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped or torn

2 teaspoons dried mint or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped or torn

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, optional

2 tablespoons olive oil



  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh sieve.

  2. Heat olive oil in medium sized pot. Place quinoa in pot and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add spices. Stir to mix the spices with the quinoa.

  3. Add water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Add dried fruit. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or according to package instructions.

  4. Remove from heat, fluff and put aside until ready to serve. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s going to be more than an hour, refrigerate and then reheat for serving. You can make the quinoa a day ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Spice rub

  1. Mix spices together.

  2. Set aside until needed.



  1. Place parchment paper on a baking dish or sheet. Arrange the salmon skin side down. Mix olive oil and lemon juice. Brush salmon fillets on both sides with the mixture.

  2. Sprinkle the spice rub generously over each salmon piece. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour. You can also leave the fish overnight in the refrigerator until closer the time to serve.

  3. Preheat oven to 450F. Remove plastic wrap from fish and place pan in oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through.


Herb topping

  1. While fish is baking, mix herb toping together. You can mix dried and fresh herbs if you don’t have all fresh. Mint was the only fresh herb in my garden now (neighbor’s dog visited with a bit of digging!).

  2. Remove fish from oven. Top with herbs. Squeeze a slice of lemon on fish before serving.


Expandthetable suggestions

Other fish: Instead of salmon, try any firm white fish such as sea bass, cod, halibut, pollock, grouper, mahi mahi or tilapia. Look for wile caught rather than farmed.

Other grains: Instead of quinoa, try rice, farro or orzo. These other options are not gluten free.

Allium free: Omit scallions and substtitute a sliced radish from quinoa, and garlic from herbed topping.

Nut free: Omit walnuts and almonds from the herb topping. Add piñoli instead.


Adapted from Joon: Persian Recipes Made Simple  

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