Sumac and Za’atar Marinated chicken on Farro with Orange and Pomegranate

For the marinade:
8 boneless chicken thighs cut into 4 pieces each
2 tbsp Sumac
2 tbsp Za’atar ( alternatively use fresh thyme pounded with sesame seeds)
2 small red onions sliced
2 cloves garlic grated
Grated Zest and juice of 1 orange
Generous glug of olive oil
1 tsp salt

For the rest:
1 1/2 cups uncooked Farro
1 ripe pomegranate
1 navel orange
1 pink grapefruit
1 packet of feta cheese
Large handful of fresh mint and more for garnish

Debbie SchembriDebbie Schembri

You’re completely forgiven if you don’t know what half the words in this dish are. Cooking is about learning so let us begin: Sumac is a tart berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is often dried and ground to a powder. Incredibly zingy, I love it. I have found it in a few shops in Malta but you can substitute with lemon juice and zest for something similar. Za’atar: Quite simply a mixture of ground sesame and dried thyme. If you cannot find it in shops you can very easily make your own.  As for Farro, this is a super wholegrain with great nutritional values with barely any fat or cholesterol. It retains a slightly chewy texture with a real nuttiness.

This is one of my favourite dishes to cook at home and with pomegranates in season and fabulous Maltese oranges, it’s your turn to impress your own guests with a fabulously colourful lunch.

Putting it together:

The beauty of this dish is that the individual ingredients pack so much flavour that you barely have to do anything to them. Ideally think of marinating the chicken overnight. However, if you’ve forgotten, or are pressed for time, a couple of hours will impart enough flavour. Just throw all the marinade ingredients into a bowl or Ziploc bag with the chicken. Massage it in, or, if you are using a ziplock, make sure it is sealed really well, and, I’m not joking, punch it. Repeatedly. Maybe it’s just because I enjoy it but I feel that this forces the flavours even further into the chicken whilst effectively tenderising it. Pop it in the fridge and let it recover for a while.

Cook the Farro according to the packet instructions. It does tend to take around an hour. Once it’s cooked, let it cool to room temperature. Chop up the mint,  some for garnish and stir it into the Farro. Cut the skin off the orange and grapefruit and segment the flesh. Chop half of it, roughly keeping the rest for garnish and mix in. Seed the pomegranate and again mix in half. Add a drizzle of olive oil.

Turn on your oven grill. Take the chicken out of the fridge and lay it all out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. You are cooking the chicken in the entirety of the marinade, so you want it to be spread over the sheet evenly so that nowhere cooks quicker than other places. Grill until the chicken is cooked and the onions have softened.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Divide the Farro mix between four plates, top with fragrant chicken and crumble feta over the top. Divide the orange segments between the plates and scatter the pomegranate seeds over the top, finishing off with the mint.

Debbie Schembri from Barefoot and Curious is a private chef.


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